Whilst in full flow in answering the latter point, she quotes from Gray’s Ode : “what is grandeur, what is power? – what the bright reward we gain?’
Gain indeed; power is what people want and in her writings Woolf not only demonstrates this but she also deals with some of the ways and reasons it occurs.
It seems that this knowledge has prevented Clarissa from also committing suicide although why she would want to do so – so privileged she was such – is not completely clear. If, as she believed, her life was a failure then more had to be at root of such failure than the fact that she had not been invited along with her husband, Peter, to lunch with Lady Bruton that day.
For example, in her essay Poses and Passions, Zirka Filipczak reminds us that the poses adopted by men and women in the artwork of the English Renaissance are strategically quite different – whilst men are represented as active (holding a sword, perhaps) and intelligent (hands on a stack of books, for example), women either sit modestly silent, their empty hands crossed demurely across their girdles or, in exceptional circumstances, they hold a bible.
The implication is that if human character has changed (and according to Woolf at the end of the day all literature is about character) then literature must change as well. What better backdrop than the city to illustrate these changes!
If the ‘living language’ is neither about living, nor about how the folks in the street communicate, nor about taking a innovative approach to poetry, then about what can it be?
Most certainly as each different section of The Wasteland shifts to the next without transition (or sometimes without even obvious links), we get a sense of how frustrated and lost that society must have felt when all around them they got the same message. But unlike Howards End, The Wasteland seems to suggest connections cannot be made.
Tracy Hargreaves (Androgyny in Modern Literature) has suggested that for a broad range of writers, the androgyne has signalled both cultural regeneration and degeneration – a disruption in ‘normative’ gendered identities which can be seen as being ‘divine or reviled’. But whilst Woolf takes the position that such disruption would be divine, Eliot seems to suggest that as women become more like men, society suffers.
According to Joseph Frank, ‘(t)ime is no longer felt as an objective, causal progression with clearly marked out differences between periods: now it has become a continuum in which distinctions between past and present are wiped out.’ Most certainly that is more often than not the case in the writings of Virginia Woolf where I suggest that the more prosaic concepts of time and memory so lamented by Mr Frank have been manipulated in order to reflect Woolf’s own experience. For Woolf, time was not always experienced as objective (in the OED (A 3 b) sense of ‘distinct from the…
Western men are seriously threatened by rational, intelligent, and well-educated women. As Medusa, we are conquerable; as Athena, we are not.