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Virginia Woolf and the Materiality of TheorySex, Animal, Life$
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Derek Ryan

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780748676439

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748676439.001.0001

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Materials for Theory: Digging Granite and Chasing Rainbows

Materials for Theory: Digging Granite and Chasing Rainbows

(p.26) Chapter 1 Materials for Theory: Digging Granite and Chasing Rainbows
Virginia Woolf and the Materiality of Theory

Derek Ryan

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter focuses on Woolf’s key figuration of ‘granite and rainbow’ in ‘The New Biography’ (1927), and opens onto an analysis of how these terms are complicated and extended throughout Woolf’s writing, offering a model of theorising that is itself embedded in the material world at the same time as it conceptualises that materiality. In doing so, the chapter provides an exhaustive mapping of Woolf’s use of ‘granite’ and ‘rainbow’, together and apart, in texts spanning her writing life, from early diary entries and her first novels The Voyage Out and Night and Day (1919), to various essays and letters and her ‘Sketch of the Past’. It also demonstrates that ‘digging’ granite and ‘chasing’ rainbows - as the materials for Woolf’s theory - entails a consideration of modern scientific developments in geology and physics, as well as in art and mythology. The final section considers the ways in which Woolf’s multiple granites and rainbows recast the relationship between culture and nature.

Keywords:   Virginia Woolf, nature, granite, rainbow, biography

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