Rewriting Literary History in <i>Orlando</i>

Jane de Gay

in Virginia Woolf's Novels and the Literary Past

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print January 2006 | ISBN: 9780748623495
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748651849 | DOI:
Rewriting Literary History in Orlando

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This chapter is concerned with Woolf's Orlando, which can be viewed as a cheerful comic piece, and as critiquing the assumptions of patriarchal literary history, as well as developing feminist perspectives to replace them. It focuses on the ways Woolf rethought literary history by attempting to uncover a sympathetic and congenial past, and looks at Daniel Defoe, one of the predecessors to English novelists and the only one mentioned in the first draft of the novel. The chapter then studies Woolf's critiques of the ideas of John Ruskin and Leslie Stephen, and determines that literary parody and allusion are used to put an alternative model of history into practice, one whereby Woolf can express intimacy with the literary past. It shows that Orlando is the first novel wherein Woolf wholeheartedly turns to the past and embraces it.

Keywords: patriarchal literary history; comic piece; feminist perspectives; Daniel Defoe; literary parody; literary allusion; model of history

Chapter.  12918 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)

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