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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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Intimations of Cosmic Indifference in Virginia Woolf’s Orlando and Olive Moore’s Spleen

Intimations of Cosmic Indifference in Virginia Woolf’s Orlando and Olive Moore’s Spleen

Chapter:
(p.183) Intimations of Cosmic Indifference in Virginia Woolf’s Orlando and Olive Moore’s Spleen
Source:
Virginia Woolf and Her Female Contemporaries
Author(s):

Benjamin D. Hagen

Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.5949/liverpool/9781942954088.003.0026

This chapter explores a disconcerting connection between Virginia Woolf’s Orlando (1928) and Olive Moore’s Spleen (1930): what Woolf elsewhere calls “a sadness at the back of life.” In the background of these novels momentary glimpses of a cosmic indifference to the plight of human and nonhuman alike attests to the ephemerality of characters, landscapes, nations, oceans, and ecosystems. The questions the chapter raises are: How might one live without mitigating or mystifying the ruthless fate that awaits this planet and its inhabitants? How might cosmic indifference become affirmed or recognized as a ground for the critique of mimesis? Of anthropocentrism? Of the many consolations which human beings fabricate to keep such indifference out of sight and mind? Lastly, what might we learn by folding this indifference into our accounts of literary modernism?

Keywords:   Woolf, Olive Moore, dark ontology, indifference, pessimism, critique, anthropocentrism

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