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Interdisciplinary/Multidisciplinary Woolf$
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Ann Martin and Kathryn Holland

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780989082624

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9780989082624.001.0001

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Clarissa’s Glacial Skepticism

Clarissa’s Glacial Skepticism

John Tyndall and “Deep Time” in Mrs. Dalloway

(p.132) Clarissa’s Glacial Skepticism
Interdisciplinary/Multidisciplinary Woolf

Catherine W. Hollis

Liverpool University Press

This chapter focuses on Leslie Stephen's mountaineering, from his footsteps up mountains to his daughter's knowledge of glaciology, in Mrs. Dalloway. It considers Virginia Woolf's characterization of Clarissa Dalloway, and her responses to grief, time, and trauma, in relation to order and emotional disorder. Clarissa (and a young Virginia Stephen) would have been familiar with the biologist Thomas Huxley and the physicist John Tyndall as Victorian proponents of secularism, supporters of Charles Darwin, and members of the influential X Club, a social club organized around a “devotion to science, pure and free, untrammeled by religious dogmas.” The chapter then examines Tyndall's influence on Woolf as far as her own interest in the wave-like structure of identity over time is concerned. It also considers Clarissa's frozen, or repressed, grief and how it generates a skepticism informed by Victorian earth science that downplays the human era in favor of the planetary epoch.

Keywords:   mountaineering, Leslie Stephen, mountains, glaciology, Mrs. Dalloway, grief, trauma, John Tyndall, earth science

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