Virginia Woolf and the East (Monograph)

London: Cecil Woolf Publishers, 1995

Virginia Woolf stands upon a bridge that connects not only the private and public worlds of women, but also the developing aesthetics of writers of different countries. This expansive view of Woolf is not popular today (1995) as Bloombury-bashing critics charge that the principle upon which modernism fashioned itself is exclusion and snobbery about intellectual and cultural difference. But it is time to shift the critical terms and locate Woolf outside this narrow ideological scope declaring her a modernist with an open--not a closed--poetics. In reading her diary, letters, essays and novels, we find that Woolf crosses cultural and class boundaries with her insistence upon the important of the "gift of self" in women's friendship, and that she is always curious about where the accent falls in the poetic language and literary expressions of foreign authors. Realizing that modernism was an international movement, she was interested in the variety of ways in which the legendary Mrs Brown might be described depending upon the age, country and temperament of the writer. Woolf makes up the "foreign" and "woman" in her writings--"made up as oe makes up the better part of life" (MD, 81)--casting off old cultural and aesthetic moulds....Woolf's engagement with the East--her developing fascination with the idea and metaphor of China and Japan--might first be sketched....

img029