All contraries confounded: the lyrical fiction of Virginia by Karen Kaivola

By Karen Kaivola

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Additional info for All contraries confounded: the lyrical fiction of Virginia Woolf, Djuna Barnes, and Marguerite Duras

Sample text

Lily must rid herself of Mrs. Ramsey's shadow; Woolf must rid herself of what she thinks a woman should be. But to lose Mrs. Ramsey and the comfort, security, and warmth of conventional representations of femininity is to suffer a great loss. Woolf's second adventure involves her less successful struggle to write beyond socially approved subjects. With a major psychological obstacle removed and no material barriers in her way, what, Woolf asks, stands in the way of her just being herself in her writing?

Texts that resist some forms of dominant ideologies are not completely outside the structuring powers of their contexts. And within the larger cultural context, texts that subvert traditional narrative forms can be alluring and seductive, particularly to feminist readers and critics who recognize the exigencies for social change. Such texts seem, especially in relation to other texts that replicate overtly and unselfconsciously existing and oppressive cultural paradigms, inspiring, liberating, and even harbingers of a different kind of material future.

In terror, the dog retreats to the corner as Robin approaches relentlessly, "grinning and whimpering" (170). As perverse or troubling as this scene may be, there is, we are told, in Robin's barking something "touching" as well. Her anguish is complete and consuming, and the agony in this final scene propels us into the void Matthew prophesizes: "Now . . " (166). It is indeed ''nothing," for as an ending it resists resolution: it does not serve but rather challenges the interests or reproduction of conventional social forms.

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