Essays Novels

An essay is a piece of writing which is often written from an author's personal point of view. Essays can consist of a number of elements, including: literary criticism, political manifestos, learned arguments, observations of daily life, recollections, and reflections of the author. The definition of an essay is vague, overlapping with those of an article and a short story. Almost all modern essays are written in prose, but works in verse have been dubbed essays (e.g. Alexander Pope's An Essay on Criticism and An Essay on Man). While brevity usually defines an essay, voluminous works like JohAn essay is a piece of writing which is often written from an author's personal point of view. Essays can consist of a number of elements, including: literary criticism, political manifestos, learned arguments, observations of daily life, recollections, and reflections of the author. The definition of an essay is vague, overlapping with those of an article and a short story. Almost all modern essays are written in prose, but works in verse have been dubbed essays (e.g. Alexander Pope's An Essay on Criticism and An Essay on Man). While brevity usually defines an essay, voluminous works like John Locke's An Essay Concerning Human Understanding and Thomas Malthus's An Essay on the Principle of Population provide counterexamples.
In some countries (e.g., in the United States), essays have become major part of formal education. Secondary students are taught structured essay formats to improve their writing skills, and admission essays are often used by universities in selecting applicants and, in the humanities and social sciences, as a way of assessing the performance of students during final exams. The concept of an "essay" has been extended to other mediums beyond writing. A film essay is a movie that often incorporates documentary film making styles and which focuses more on the evolution of a theme or an idea. A photographic essay is an attempt to cover a topic with a linked series of photographs; it may or may not have an accompanying text or captions....more


RATIONALE

One purpose of this topic is to demonstrate that, contrary to a supposition that reigned for many decades, Woolf is a central figure in modern literature. Arguably, she synthesizes "modern concerns" with greater integrity than do Conrad, Eliot, Joyce, and Lawrence. The emphasis of this topic is not on glib comparisons between this author's work and that of other modernists, but on close scrutiny of her individual novels and essays. It is by establishing the depth and subtlety of her handling of such issues as perspective, gender relations, character portrayal, and the self-conscious role of the artist that we can come to appreciate the significance of Woolf's contribution to our understanding of modernism. Relevant questions include:

— What is Woolf's formal and moral agenda with respect to modernism and fiction?

— How does Woolf handle time, perspective, and the constraints of narrative (in comparison, for instance, with the approaches of her contemporaries and predecessors)?

— Woolf and feminism: In what sense and to what ends does Woolf address the nature of gender relations and the role of gender in fiction, culture, and history?

— In Woolf's fiction, what is the relation between character portrayal and the self-conscious concerns of the novelist as artist?

— What do we stand to gain by viewing Woolf's portrayal of human relations in an historical or biographical context?

— In what sense is Woolf as much a poet as a prose writer? How is her work related to that of Romantic (as well as Victorian and modem) poets?

PRIMARY READINGS

— A Room of One's Own
— A Writer's Diary
— Between the Acts
— The Common Reader
— Death of the Moth and Other Essays
— Mrs. Dalloway
— Mr. Dallowy's Party
— Moments of Being
— Orlando
— To the Lighthouse
— The Common Reader
— The Waves
— Three Guineas
— The Letters of Virginia Woolf (Six Volumes)
— The Diary of Virginia Woolf (Four Volumes)

SECONDARY READINGS

Batchelor, John
— Virginia Woolf: The Major Novels. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1991.
Boon, Kevin Alexander
— An Interpretive Reading of Virginia Woolf's The Waves. Queenston: Mellen Press, 1998.
Goldman, Jane, ed.
— To the Lighthouse and The Waves (essays and reviews) New York: Columbia University Press, 1998.
Kumar, Shiv
— Bergson and the Stream of Consciousness Novel. London: Blackie, 1962.
Hermione Lee
— The Novels of Virginia Woolf. London: Methuen & Co., 1977.
— Virginia Woolf. London: Methuen, 1977.
Jane Marcus, ed.
— New Feminist Essays on Virginia Woolf. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1981.
— The Common Reader. New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1953
Ratavaara, Irma
— Virginia Woolf's The Waves. London: Kennikat. 1979.
Reid, Su, ed.
— Mrs. Dalloway and To the Lighthouse. London: Macmillan, 1993.
Eric Warner ed.
— Virginia Woolf: A Centenary Perspective. London: Macmillan, 1984.
John Burt
— "Irreconcilable Habits of Thought in A Room of One's Own and To the Lighthouse, "ELH 49, no. 4, 1982.
Jane Lilienfield
— "The Deceptiveness of Beauty': Mother Love and Mother Hate in To the Lighthouse," Twentieth Century Literature 23, no. 3, October 1977.
.Tori Moi
— "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Feminist Readings of Woolf" in Sexual/Textual Politics (London/NY: Routledge, 1985).
Showalter, Elaine
— "Virgiania Woolf and the Flight into Androgyny" in A Literature of Their Own (Princeton University Press, 1977).
Silver, Brenda R.
— "The Authority of Anger: Three Guineas as Case Study," Signs 6, no. 2, 1991.

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