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Virginia Woolf and Heritage$
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Jane deGay, Tom Breckin, and Anne Reus

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781942954422

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9781942954422.001.0001

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“The little bit of power I had myself”: Lady Lasswade’s Shifting Sense of Place in The Years

“The little bit of power I had myself”: Lady Lasswade’s Shifting Sense of Place in The Years

Chapter:
(p.60) “The little bit of power I had myself”: Lady Lasswade’s Shifting Sense of Place in The Years
Source:
Virginia Woolf and Heritage
Author(s):

Ann Martin

Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.5949/liverpool/9781942954422.003.0008

Woolf’s relationship to feminism and the domestic sphere is as complicated as her relationship to class and the landed gentry. Though Woolf focuses on the “daughters of educated men” in Three Guineas(1938), her theories and novels feature titled women who use their positions in ways both complicit with and resistant to the patriarchal status quo. The complexities of upper-class female agency, as well as the ambivalence with which Woolf regards social status and its role in modernist England, are strikingly presented in The Years through the figure of Kitty Lasswade. The presentation will focus on the excised 1918-1921 section of the manuscript, which brings the gendered politics of the aristocracy to the foreground and links Kitty to a range of other women, including Eleanor, across a span of years. Following the death of her husband and facing her son’s sale of the country estate, Kitty recognizes that her loss of “the little bit of power I had myself” is connected directly to her loss of social place, as she will be “pensioned off like an old servant” (Woolf 387). In Kitty’s retrospective critique of the superstructure and her shifted position to the margins of England, Woolf presents a shifted perspective on the consequences of the patrilinear system for women in their individual and implicitly collective experiences. Lady Lasswade’s economic agency and personal autonomy act merely as a foothold—albeit a foothold with potential—within the restrictions of the inherited heteronormative state.

Keywords:   The Years, Kitty Lasswade, body, class, age, intersectionality, agency, space

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