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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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Virginia Woolf Reads the Romantics

Virginia Woolf Reads the Romantics

(p.109) Virginia Woolf Reads the Romantics
Virginia Woolf and Heritage

Davi Pinho

Liverpool University Press

A prised legacy handed down to modernists by British Romantics is the understanding that memory is the organising force of all human art, that childhood is the source of our imaginative powers, and that poetry is the culmination of an I who works through collection and recollection, i.e. the reassessment of the visible in an emotional appraisal of the world. These are characteristics that mark Virginia Woolf’s artistic expression. Her attempt is to write in a space between poetry and prose, which can be traced back to Wordsworth’s 1802 preface to Lyrical Ballads. While her novels carry out this vision of art and the artist, Woolf directly discusses the Romantic heritage in several essays. We propose to survey the weight of Romanticism to Woolf’s art by revisiting the dialogues she establishes through her essays and the ones that are implicit in her considerations. To do so, we will unpack Woolf’s elegiac discussion of Romantic poets and their work in her essays, particularly in “Not One of Us” (1927), “The Man at the Gate” (1940), and “Sarah Coleridge” (1940), as well as briefly discuss the presence of a Romantic Heritage in her mature novels. Our aim is to show that through the life and art of the British Romantics, Woolf frames the importance of Romanticism to her own life and art: the possibility of making her private and isolated existence become an image that connects to the whole of art, poetry, and all human life.

Keywords:   Androgyny, Language, Non-human, Romantic Poetry

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