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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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The Weight of “Formal Obstructions” and Punctuation in Mrs. Dalloway and Pointed Roofs

The Weight of “Formal Obstructions” and Punctuation in Mrs. Dalloway and Pointed Roofs

(p.163) The Weight of “Formal Obstructions” and Punctuation in Mrs. Dalloway and Pointed Roofs
Virginia Woolf and Her Female Contemporaries

Emily Rials

Liverpool University Press

This paper explores formal differences between Virginia Woolf’s Mrs.Dalloway and Dorothy Richardson’s Pointed Roofs to argue that Woolf’s punctuation reveals how her fiction defies the “damned egotistical self” which she claimed “ruins” her contemporaries’ work. While Richardson’s ellipses distinguish her narration of Miriam’s thoughts from both the “current masculine realism” against which she wrote and male writers’ conventions of “feminine prose,” Woolf’s apparently-seamless sentences develop Clarissa Dalloway’s interiority by engaging, rather than rejecting, what Richardson calls “formal obstructions” on the page. Combining narratology with textual and feminist criticism, this paper argues that the novels’ punctuation reflects these writers’ radically different approaches to character interiority, narratorial authority, and the ethics of representation.

Keywords:   Woolf, Richardson, Narrative, Punctuation, Interiority, Gender

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