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Title: The Secret Languages of Modernism: On James, Woolf, and Faulkner
Authors: Chun, Maureen
Advisors: Wood, Michael Wood
Contributors: Comparative Literature Department
Keywords: Anglo-American
Comparative Literature
Subjects: Comparative literature
Modern literature
Issue Date: 2011
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation investigates a counter-current in modernism that turns away from the metaphoric production of meaning exemplified by Joyce and Flaubert, toward a concern with material embodiment as the crux of consciousness. The title of my dissertation is taken from Virginia Woolf's essay "The Cinema," in which she reflects on the new mechanical medium and its expressive potential: "Is there, we ask, some secret language which we feel and see, but never speak, and, if so, could this be made visible to the eye? Is there any characteristic which thought possesses that can be rendered visible without the help of words?" Drawing primarily upon The Wings of the Dove, The Waves, and Absalom, Absalom!, I argue that the later works of the three novelists reflect a dissatisfaction with the concept of consciousness as inhering in a single person, a discrete subjectivity, which dominates in The Portrait of a Lady, To the Lighthouse, and The Sound and the Fury. Each of the three novelists betrays an ambition to tell stories in an unspeakable "secret language": in anti-revelatory narratives embedded in a style that presents images in language as thing-like and consciousness as immanent in the material world. In attending to the status of metaphor developed in the syntax and forms of the later novels, I read this style as conflating multiple perspectives to assume itself the function of a material consciousness whose impersonality derives from the impersonality of the matter of the body.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Comparative Literature

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