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Virginia Woolf: Writing the World$
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Pamela L. Caughie and Diana L. Swanson

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780990895800

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9780990895800.001.0001

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Virginia Woolf, Katharine Burdekin, and Britain’s Cosmopolitan Musical Culture

Virginia Woolf, Katharine Burdekin, and Britain’s Cosmopolitan Musical Culture

(p.69) Virginia Woolf, Katharine Burdekin, and Britain’s Cosmopolitan Musical Culture
Virginia Woolf: Writing the World

David Deutsch

Liverpool University Press

This essay argues that Woolf’s depictions of music promoted and even predicted the continuation of Britain’s popular musical cosmopolitanism, a widely acknowledged, shared European heritage developed specifically and uniquely in Britain through the music of Bach, Beethoven, Handel, Mozart, and even Wagner. This analysis draws on Melba Cuddy-Keane’s suggestion that in Woolf’s work an “objet sonore” can provide a “bridge between the individual and the world” and can convey “a wholeness, a comprehensiveness, that embraces the communal life of the universe.” This essay focuses on classical music with a German provenance, reinforcing conceptions of a “communal” European culture, and compares the function of music in Woolf’s Between the Acts and Katherine Burdekin’s Swastika Night. The essay also analyses listeners’ letters to the BBC. Woolf and Burdekin projected public hopes that European musical traditions could represent long-lasting, international humanistic sympathies despite fascist atrocities in the years leading up to and during WWII.

Keywords:   Virginia Woolf, Katherine Burdekin, Between the Acts, Swastika Night, Objet sonore, WWII, Classical music, European heritage, BBC

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