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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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Queering Orlando and Non/Human Desire

Queering Orlando and Non/Human Desire

(p.101) Chapter 3 Queering Orlando and Non/Human Desire
Virginia Woolf and the Materiality of Theory

Derek Ryan

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter presents a queer reading, or rather ‘queering’, of Orlando which reassesses the themes of love and desire in Woolf’s mock-biography. It begins with a section on Woolf and Vita Sackville-West, focusing in particular on the new perspective offered by Braidotti’s recent discussion of their relationship in Transpositions (2006). It then goes on to consider the ways in which Woolf’s theorising of love and desire in Orlando involves an array of material objects including wedding rings and a motor-car, and includes a consideration of how Orlando’s bedrooms become the site for a reconceptualisation of history. Orlando not only challenges notions of sexuality pertaining to identity categories and of desire founded on lack, but offers an affirmative reconceptualisation of desire as depersonalised and shared among human and nonhuman forces. Woolf finally rejects even the notion of a plural self measured by quantity in favour of a multiplicitous subjectivity engaged in qualitative creation - precisely because of this, Woolf’s fictional biography is all the more entangled in the material realities involved in a love story.

Keywords:   Virginia Woolf, Orlando, queer theory, sexuality, desire, subjectivity, Vita Sackville-West, Rosi Braidotti, Gilles Deleuze

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