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Virginia Woolf's Modernist PathHer Middle Diaries and the Diaries She Read$
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Barbara Lounsberry

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780813062952

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813062952.001.0001

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Introduction

Introduction

Chapter:
(p.1) Introduction
Source:
Virginia Woolf's Modernist Path
Author(s):

Barbara Lounsberry

Publisher:
University Press of Florida
DOI:10.5744/florida/9780813062952.003.0001

Virginia Woolf's diary is her longest, her longest sustained, and her last work to reach the public. The Introduction presents the book’s main argument, the new view that Woolf entered a secondstage as a diarist (after her first experimental stage)—that of her mature, spare, modernist diaries of 1918 to 1929. Woolf deliberately curbs her number of diary entries per year in this second stage, pushing the periodic diary about as far as it can go and still convey a life. The Introduction also documents Woolf’s increasingly inward turn across the 1920s and her continued modernist experiments with form, especially with the fragment. A diary’s inherent oppositions, its “symmetry … of discords” (Woolf’s diary phrase) allowed Woolf to explore a string of paradoxes: continuity and discontinuity, motion and stasis, impersonal and personal time. The insights of the great French diary theorist Philippe Lejeune are used to undergird the book’s argument that diary-writing now becomes a way of life for Virginia Woolf, “life insurance” that brings high returns. The Introduction also previews the book’s second major insight: the heretofore unexplored role of other diaries in Woolf’s revered modernist works.

Keywords:   Philippe Lejeune, diary theory, diary form, fragments, discords, discontinuity, diary stages, time

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