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Virginia Woolf and Her Female Contemporaries$
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Julie Vandivere and Megan Hicks

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781942954088

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9781942954088.001.0001

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Making Waves in Lonely Parallel: Evelyn Scott and Virginia Woolf

Making Waves in Lonely Parallel: Evelyn Scott and Virginia Woolf

(p.129) Making Waves in Lonely Parallel: Evelyn Scott and Virginia Woolf
Virginia Woolf and Her Female Contemporaries

Joyce E. Kelley

Liverpool University Press

This essay concerns the parallel careers of English author Virginia Woolf and American author Evelyn Scott, focusing primarily on Woolf’s novel The Waves (1931) and on Scott’s The Wave (1929), a historical novel about the American Civil War. Despite their strikingly similar titles, these modernist novels have never been compared, likely due to their very different subject matter. This essay posits that both authors felt that history should be told through accounts of ordinary people; though Woolf’s planned book project of telling English history through obscure lives was never completed, Scott’s The Wave tells the history of the Civil War by shifting through the perspectives of numerous characters as the war transfers energy from point to point, person to person. Woolf’s The Waves is similarly composed as a series of “soliloquies” of six individuals; both texts focus on the wave as a transfer of energy from character to character. Both authors further use the concept of the wave to demonstrate individuals as both alienated and part of a collective, focusing on the theme of subjective experience amid a larger tide of human history. While these women writers shared such points of tangency throughout their careers, they never met or corresponded.

Keywords:   Virginia Woolf, Evelyn Scott, The Waves, The Wave, modernist novels, women writers

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