Virginia Woolf, Europe, and Peace

BookVirginia Woolf, Europe, and Peace

Virginia Woolf, Europe, and Peace

Vol. 2 Aesthetics and Theory

Clemson University Press


July 9th, 2020



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From the “prying,” “insidious” “fingers of the European War” that Septimus Warren Smith would never be free of in Mrs Dalloway to the call to “think peace into existence” during the Blitz in “Thoughts on Peace in an Air Raid,” questions of war and peace pervade the writings of Virginia Woolf. This volume asks how Woolf conceptualised peace by exploring the various experimental forms she created in response to war and violence. Comprised of fifteen chapters by an international array of leading and emerging scholars, this book both draws out theoretical dimensions of Woolf’s modernist aesthetic and draws on various critical frameworks for reading her work, in order to deepen our understanding of her writing about the politics of war, ethics, feminism, class, animality, and European culture.

            The chapters collected here look at how we might re-read Woolf and her contemporaries in the light of new theoretical and aesthetical innovations, such as peace studies, post-critique, queer theory, and animal studies. It also asks how we might historicise these frameworks through Woolf’s own engagement with the First and Second World Wars, while also bringing her writings on peace into dialogue with those of others in the Bloomsbury Group. In doing so, this volume reassesses the role of Europe and peace in Woolf’s work and opens up new ways of reading her oeuvre.

Examines how Virginia Woolf developed innovative aesthetic and theoretical approaches to peace and Europe.

Author Information

Peter Adkins is an assistant lecturer at the University of Kent. He has recently completed a PhD on modernism and the Anthropocene which examined how the novels of James Joyce, Virginia Woolf and Djuna Barnes responded to changing ideas about the planet, nonhuman life and the figure of the human in the early twentieth century. He is currently working on a monograph entitled The Modernist Anthropocene: Nonhuman Life and Planetary Change in James Joyce, Virginia Woolf and Djuna Barnes. Derek Ryan is Senior Lecturer at the University of Kent and author of Virginia Woolf and the Materiality of Theory: Sex, Animal, Life (Edinburgh UP, 2013) and Animal Theory: A Critical Introduction (Edinburgh UP, 2015). He has published widely on modernism and animality and is currently completing, with Linden Peach and Jane Goldman, the Cambridge Edition of Woolf’s Flush: A Biography. His most recent book is The Handbook to the Bloomsbury Group (Bloomsbury, 2018), edited with Stephen Ross, and he is Literature Editor for the Routledge Encyclopedia of Modernism.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
List of Contributors15
Part I: Forms of Reading27
1. “Messages of Peace”: Bloomsbury’s Peace Terms; or, Working for “ancient woolf’s peace-time university"29
2. Woolf and Criticism in the Time of Post-Critique: “How Should One Read a Book?” and The Common Reader53
3. Reason, Ridicule, and Indifference: The Rhetoric of Nonviolence and Collective Security in the Essays of Virginia and Leonard Woolf69
Part II: Ethical Encounters83
4. An Ethics of Wartime Protest: Voicing Servant Characters in To the Lighthouse and The Years85
5. “Peace as awakeness to the precariousness of the other”: Virginia Woolf ’s Pacifist Ethics99
6. “[A]s if some animal were dying in a slow but exquisite anguish”: Glimpses of Animal Trauma in the Work of Woolf113
Part III: Broken Bodies129
7. The Disintegration of Sense and Bodies in Pain: Woolf, Wittgenstein, and the Rhetoric of War131
8. Breaking the Peace: The Darwinian Politics of Virginia Woolf ’s “creature, Dictator”147
9. Woolf, Weeping Women, and the European mater dolorosa161
Part IV: Retracing Relations177
10. “Peace was the third emotion”: Tripartite Balance in Between the Acts179
11. “Real Loyalties”: War, Sibling Love, and Loss in The Voyage Out and Night and Day193
12. Thoughts on Flowering in an Air Raid: Apples and Poppies—Alive, Alive Oh!207
Part V: Protest and Hope219
13. Between Aesthetic and Political Theory: Virginia Woolf ’s Utopian Pacifism221
14. Intersections: Propaganda and Just War Theory237
15. Radical Hope as Protest: Virginia Woolf ’s Everyday Feminism255
Index of Names331