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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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Figures of Contradiction

Figures of Contradiction

Virginia Woolf’s Rhetoric of Genres

(p.271) Figures of Contradiction
Contradictory Woolf

Sara Sullam

Liverpool University Press

This chapter explores Virginia Woolf's contradictory relationship with poetry, poets, and poetic forms and their role in Woolf's literary achievement. As a writer, Woolf tried to realize a blend between prose and poetry; as a critic, she dedicated several essays to her understanding of literary genres; and the Hogarth Lectures on Literature series stands as a further confirmation of her interest in the notions of genres and subgenres. The chapter then considers Woolf's use of rhetoric and its tropes to tackle the contradiction between prose and poetry, as well as her elaboration of a “rhetorical” notion of these two genres. Drawing on Northrop Frye's notion of “generic criticism,” it suggests that Woolf reaches a rhetorical understanding of genres where distinctions between prose and poetry can never be settled.

Keywords:   poetry, poets, poetic forms, prose, essays, literary genre, rhetoric, Northrop Frye, generic criticism

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