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Jane Austen, Virginia Woolf and Worldly Realism$
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Pam Morris

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781474419130

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474419130.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 18 September 2021

The Waves: Blasphemy of Laughter and Criticism

The Waves: Blasphemy of Laughter and Criticism

(p.107) Chapter 4 The Waves: Blasphemy of Laughter and Criticism
Jane Austen, Virginia Woolf and Worldly Realism

Pam Morris

Edinburgh University Press

The Waves enacts an immense widening of the scale of the perceptible from intestines and nerve endings to the movement of tides and seasons. Continuous with this comprehensive view of the physical world, the politics of the novel centres upon the fact of embodiment as the human condition and upon the determining disciplinary effects of that bodily being. The novel constitutes an extended palimpsest of Lucretius’ poem, De Rerum Natura. Like Lucretius, Woolf’s materialist aim is to denounce false systems of cultural belief but equally to contrast that conscripted social order with a poetic, empirical vision of the physical universe – hence the two-part structure of her novel. By associating her text with the work of a prestigious, but blasphemous, classical writer, Woolf challenges male, idealist definitions of culture and civilization that underpin gender, class and imperialist oppression.

Keywords:   the perceptible, embodiment, Lucretius, empirical vision, physical universe, culture, civilization, imperialism

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