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Contradictory Woolf$
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Derek Ryan and Stella Bolaki

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780983533955

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9780983533955.001.0001

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Virginia Woolf and December 1910

Virginia Woolf and December 1910

The Question of the Fourth Dimension

(p.194) Virginia Woolf and December 1910
Contradictory Woolf

Makiko Minow-Pinkney

Liverpool University Press

This chapter explores the question of a “fourth dimension” in Virginia Woolf's fiction. In 1924, Woolf asked in her diary as she revised the manuscript of Mrs Dalloway (1925): “But is it unreal?” At issue here is the contradiction between “reality” and modernist fiction brought to the fore a year and half earlier in Arnold Bennett's critique of the characters of Jacob's Room (1922). His criticism had already prompted Woolf's essay “Character in Fiction,” in which she asserts, “on or about December 1910 human character changed.” The chapter discusses the connections between Cubism and pre-Einsteinian fourth-dimensional theory, along with Woolf's own depictions of mathematicians in her novels. It also considers Henry Parker Manning's compendium, The Fourth Dimension Simply Explained: A Collection of Essays Selected from Those Submitted in the Scientific American's Prize Competition (1910), and the extent to which it influenced Woolf's mischievous theory of character and cultural transition in December 1910.

Keywords:   fourth dimension, fiction, character, Cubism, mathematicians, Henry Parker Manning, cultural transition

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