Comparative Critical Studies 3, 3, pp. 291–323

© BCLA 2006

‘Time Passes’ – Virginia Woolf’s Virgilian Passage to the Future Past Masterpieces: A la recherche du temps perdu and To the Lighthouse
margaret tudeau-clayton
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‘When we speak of literary filiation [...] it is not so much the mere game of tracing influences which is involved as the implied definition of the artist’s status’1 ‘see the past in relation to the future; and so prepare the way for masterpieces to come’2

In ‘How Should One Read a Book?’, an essay that she drafted as she worked on To the Lighthouse in 1925–1926, Virginia Woolf recommends that readers juxtapose and compare texts from different historical moments, that, for instance, they read Shakespeare’s King Lear and Aeschylus’s Agamemnon side by side.3 As writer as well as reader she had made this very comparison – of King Lear and Agamemnon – in another essay, entitled ‘On Not Knowing Greek’ (1925), in which she also juxtaposes Sophocles, first with Jane Austen, then with Marcel Proust.4 Jane Austen is in turn described, in yet another piece from this period, as a writer who ‘would have been the forerunner of Henry James and of Proust’, had she lived longer.5 As in this instance, such comparative juxtapositions serve ‘to bring out’ a ‘common quality’, as she puts it in ‘How Should One Read’, and so to affirm what she calls, in ‘How It Strikes a Contemporary’ (1925), the ‘continuity and calm’ that remain despite the ‘storm’ – the literary and cultural as well as socio-political turbulences that accompany the passage of time.6 Woolf’s practice of such comparative reading was encouraged by daily habits of reading and writing. A ‘work list’ in her journal entry for January 7, 1923, for instance, starts with the writing of Mrs Dalloway, a review article and ‘the Greek chapter’ (for The Common Reader), 291

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then goes on to name the Greek authors that she plans to read for this chapter, which she juxtaposes with ‘perhaps, another vol of Proust’ – a juxtaposition which translates into the comparison of Sophocles and Proust in the chapter ‘On Not Knowing Greek’.7 In this essay I want to explore how what I call, following Richard Aldington, literary filiations to ‘the old and the new’ are juxtaposed in To the Lighthouse.8 Specifically, the figure of ‘the greatest modern novelist’, as Woolf describes Marcel Proust in April 1927,9 the year of the publication of To the Lighthouse, is juxtaposed with a figure of ancient classical culture, though this is not a Greek author, as in the essays and journal entries cited above, but the Latin author Virgil. There are distinctive features to these filiations that I will look at from within an overview of Woolf’s relation to each figure, principally because of these features, but also because critical discussion of these relations is either non-existent (Virgil) or restricted in scope (Proust).10 The filiations are, however, also connected, in particular through the figure of the contemplative poet and reader Augustus Carmichael who, at the opening of the second part of To the Lighthouse, ‘Time Passes’, is ‘reading Virgil’, while, in the third part, ‘The Lighthouse’, he is ‘reading a French novel’.11 Whether or not the novel is Proust’s, readers are invited to recall the earlier evocation of the contemporary French masterpiece at the close of the first part, ‘The Window’ (discussed below). Virgil and Proust are, moreover, brought together at the conclusion of the novel by a trope of comparison that also includes To the Lighthouse itself. For Carmichael’s ‘French novel’ is here compared to a ‘trident’, a figure which alludes not only, self-consciously, to the tripartite form of Woolf’s novel, as Randall Stevenson has suggested,12 but more generally to an aesthetic form or ‘shape’ (to use Woolf’s preferred word) which is shared by the new and the old. As we shall see, it is likely that Woolf knew of the original tripartite conception of Proust’s novel, as of course she knew of the tripartite structure of James Joyce’s Ulysses (which she was reading as she started Proust in 1922). Her own tripartite structure is, at the same time, consciously aligned with ‘old’ analogous tripartite generic sequences – Shakespearean as well as Virgilian – as I shall show. Generalised through the figure of the trident, tripartite shape then represents a ‘common quality’ that survives the discontinuities of the passage of time, an instance of what remains through and beyond historical and cultural particularity. As these preliminary observations suggest, the filiations to Proust

Recalling To the Lighthouse in details as well as more generally. Forster has failed to achieve this combination where Proust has succeeded. and the narrative mode with its commitment rather to particular local actuality on the other. consistently represented. in ‘The Lighthouse’. contradictory project of combining rupture with continuity. of the ideal model to which Lily Briscoe aspires for her painting. Fiction and the Future’ (1927) from which the quotation is taken. which refers at once to Woolf’s novel and to Lily’s painting.14 In this discussion of the fiction of E. which is echoed in the description. this essay. as I will consider in detail later. notably in the tellingly titled ‘Poetry.‘Time Passes’ 293 and Virgil are connected. as here. like others of the period. contradictory ‘ingredients’. As I will explore later. for instance. The ‘recipe’ his masterpiece exemplifies is. According to Woolf. This is what we find. This is stressed in the closing performative ‘I have had my vision’ (226). the novel first signals its filiation: what is the ‘recipe’ for the modern masterpiece of fiction that will at once ‘take the mould of that queer conglomeration of incongruous things – the modern mind’ and bear ‘the seeds of an enduring existence’?13 It is a question posed by Woolf in a number of essays of this period. at a more general level. Proust’s writing is recurrently cited by Woolf as exemplary of the ‘recipe’ or paradigm for the enduring modern masterpiece against which English contemporary writing. in a journal entry on the achievement of Proust. the echo underscores the close parallel between Lily’s painting and Woolf’s own writing. in terms of a successful combination of heterogeneous. In the case of Proust this question might be formulated in terms of the culinary discourse through which. It is of course precisely such a combination that she herself has just attempted in her own novel To the Lighthouse. is measured. moreover. M. through their relation to the question of cultural survival. the ‘authority of a masterpiece’. It is in its combination . participates in the novel’s future-oriented project – the seemingly impossible. here contradictory generic modes with their respective perspectives on ‘reality’: the lyrical mode with its aspiration to the symbolic and universal on the one hand. in another essay of 1927. As in the essay on Forster. the historically particular with the permanent and universal in order to achieve what Woolf calls. she identifies the key to this ‘authority’ and so to enduring cultural existence as ‘the power of combination – the single vision’ in which oppositions are combined. and the implied aspiration of Woolf’s novel to the status of a work not merely of fiction. including her own. Forster. but of art.

such an aspiration requires not only that writers modify their practice. but also that English critics and readers modify their cultural assumptions in order to generate an affirmative response to the titular question. the concern with cultural status and survival that is expressed not only in Woolf’s essays of the period. there has been no such equivalent to date precisely because in England. even as it ironises.294 margaret tudeau-clayton in a single ‘vision’. in a 1927 review of E. For this scene evokes . the Brothers Karamazov and A la recherche du temps perdu’. precisely in order to make the critical judgement implied in the question. acquires particular prominence through the figure of the anguished academic. as Woolf indicates in her review of Forster. Prompted by a question raised during dinner in relation to the fiction of Walter Scott – ‘how long do you think it’ll last?’ (116) – which. ‘a novel is not a work of art’. as Woolf habitually does. Mr Ramsay. he applies to his own work. Ramsay takes up one of Scott’s novels and reflects on ‘Scott and Balzac’ and. in the self-obsessed manner of anguished academics. on the one hand. Forster’s Aspects of the Novel. unlike France and Russia. However. but also in her journal where it carries a more personal inflection. and as she recommends in her essays that her readers should do. and English and French cultural particularity are all evoked in the scenes at the climax of ‘The Window’ in which the filiation to Proust is first signalled: the scene of the family dinner party and the scene of reading which follows. It is then its character as art that justifies what I take to be its implicit claim to a place alongside Proust’s masterpiece as its English equivalent. on ‘the English novel and the French novel’ (131). ‘Is Fiction an Art?’ It is. To the Lighthouse seeks more generally to contribute to the development of English fiction as art. more generally. It is a concern that.15 Aspiring to fill this vacancy. which is thematised throughout the novel in relation to painting as well as writing. only in this collective production of fiction as art that ‘the seeds’ of a genuinely ‘enduring existence’ lie.16 the figure of Mr Ramsay embodies. of the personal and particular with the impersonal and general that To the Lighthouse aspires to the condition of art. of heterogeneous generic modes and heterogeneous filiations to the old and new and. According to Woolf. hence ‘[t]here are no English novels to stand beside War and Peace. as we shall see. on the other. moreover. is tied up with the particular comparison that the scene of the family dinner party has just invited readers to draw between the contemporary counterparts to Balzac and Scott – Proust and Woolf. Reading comparatively. Here the question of survival. M. cultural survival. The character of the artistic masterpiece.

letters and journal entries of the period. In both scenes. in England as well as France. This volume had been awarded the Prix Goncourt in December 1919. as Woolf had not (yet).‘Time Passes’ 295 the opening scene of the second volume of Proust’s novel. as she does more explicitly in her essays. all the more so given the focus of Aldington’s essay. where it was almost certainly read by Woolf. Norpois’ in the first English critical essay on Proust. thematised in the two scenes themselves. which appeared in The English Review of June 1920. who was not only a contemporary and so a potential rival. A l’ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs (1919). literary filiation as a measure of artistic status (see my first epigraph). ‘[i]t is a French recipe of my grandmother’s’ (109). is accompanied by what I have called anxious desire – a complex of contradictory feelings that characterises from the outset Woolf’s relation to Proust. by the time of his premature death in 1922. notably by a distinguished male guest (Mr Bankes/ M. too. including the narrative itself. as Woolf foregrounds. Mrs Ramsay has earlier been described as descended from an ‘Italian house’ (13). had achieved widespread recognition. A narrative inconsistency since. in partial explanation of the culinary triumph. traditionally ‘higher’. Through the trope of the ‘French recipe’ Woolf acknowledges the exemplary status of his writing. or nearly the same. Woolf’s choice of it to advertise her filiation with Proust clearly signals her desire that To the Lighthouse receive the same recognition. this registers the pressure to advertise what is implicitly more important than narrative consistency. Most prominently. while the particular scene had been singled out for praise by Richard Aldington. both scenes feature the presentation of a dish of Bœuf en Daube which is celebrated as a masterpiece. Norpois) for whom. which likewise centres on a family dinner party. . as Hermione Lee points out. who describes it as ‘that amazing dinner with M. but a contemporary who. however. Woolf underscores the filiation through the figure of Mrs Ramsay who comments. moreover. It is. ‘recipe’. namely the filiation with the writing of Marcel Proust. forms of visual and verbal art. the culinary masterpiece is brought into a play of relations with other. the meal has been especially prepared by the family cook (Mildred/Françoise).17 Loaded as the scene is with associations of achieved recognition. Artistic status is. in each case. which is precisely literary filiation and. a filiation that. what is more. even as she draws attention to its cultural specificity and the difference as well as likeness with her own novel which follows the same. as we shall see.

who had already evoked them in Jacob’s Room (1922). as. however. if more discreetly. ‘in the gloom’ of which. At the same time it advertises continuity through and despite the discontinuities – formal and literary as well as socio-political – that ‘Time Passes’ represents (in both senses). foregrounds the future orientation of the concern with cultural survival which is common to both scenes of reading and their respective literary filiations. she wrote ‘Time Passes’. we must wait for the future to show’ (137). in another scene of reading.296 margaret tudeau-clayton No such anxious desire haunts the filiation with the ‘serene’ classic Virgil. ambivalent. however. which. The threat is. Like Virgil’s Georgics I. the Georgics were particularly appreciated by Woolf. a holding out against oblivion.20 Woolf is. suggests a scene of vigil. about the agents of this redemptive labour. ‘Time Passes’. As Hermione Lee maintains. ‘Time Passes’ presents a lyrical meditation on ‘degeneration and renewal’ in human history and nature and a celebration of ‘redemptive labour’. This effect of continuity is reinforced. the scene of reading which describes Augustus Carmichael as the one who stays ‘awake’ (137). specifically Georgics I. as she herself later commented. dispelled by a reassertion of the redemptive . as Virgil is not. which is not the Eclogues as critics have usually assumed. ‘Well. Indeed. unconnected to any prior utterance.18 the figure of the old who is named twice in the opening sections of the novel’s second part. we might add.19 but the Georgics. Specifically.21 Following Lee I shall argue that the Virgilian vision of redemptive labour is shadowed by a vision of an emergent socio-cultural post world war (one) order which poses a threat to the continuity of a literary tradition as well as to an aesthetic ideal. which Virgil and his Georgics represent. which takes place on the evening of the same day as the scene of reading which closes ‘The Window’ – a local instance of Woolf’s combination of (formal) rupture with (temporal and thematic) continuity. Absent from the holograph draft. As we shall see. through the common qualities that are emphasized in the final version between ‘Time Passes’ and the relevant Virgilian poem. Woolf’s ambivalence towards her working class figures needs to be understood in relation to her mixed feelings about the General Strike of May 1926. she is less expansively generous than Proust in the celebration of her artistcook. the scene furnishes a ground of cultural authority – the name of Virgil – for what was the most innovatory (‘ground-breaking’) and intractable part of the novel for Woolf. ‘Time Passes’ opens with an utterance from Mr Bankes. reading Virgil by candlelight ‘past midnight’ (139).

and ‘this lack of tradition affects him immensely [. together with personal memories. not insignificantly. as she writes in ‘Modern Fiction’ (1925). Woolf comments that Lawrence ‘echoes nobody. as her evocation of Virgil’s Georgics in Jacob’s Room illustrates. personal memories are inextricably tied up for Woolf with the collective. Proust’s writing is thus.] reads us’24 and we are.26 Though Greek was the source of most pleasure.. while Caesar was conquering and making laws. Affirming this by weaving literary filiations to the old and new into an autobiographical narrative. pagan Greek and Latin cultures.‘Time Passes’ 297 cultural work of art – the production of continuity in time which is the meaning of tradition. as she puts it elsewhere. The importance of filiations with the literary tradition and their close association with artistic form are underscored. continues no tradition. 1905. is unaware of the past’. with the ‘classics’. 2 ‘This is the song I Virgil made. Woolf implies. the novel carries the collective memory of an ideal of aesthetic form as well as of particular literary monuments.22 Once again ‘comparing’ the English writer ‘with Proust’. what we read. neither the classics of the English tradition – Jane Austen and Henry Fielding – still less the classics of ancient..23 Filiations with the literary tradition and aesthetic form are here mutually implicated critical criteria that Lawrence fails to satisfy while Proust succeeds. in Woolf’s ‘Notes on D. which goes on to recall a prior scene of reading: ‘that little bit of Virgil with . since. Lovely!’25 Virginia Woolf’s ‘quarrel’ was not. the past redeemed for the future is similarly not just personal and individual but also collective and general. Lawrence’. in particular his ‘stately and melodious’ Georgics. ‘literature [.. likely to endure as a future past masterpiece even as it performs a redemptive function for a collective (Western European) cultural memory or literary tradition. individually and collectively.] which haunts one’.] one feels that not a single word has been chosen for its beauty. through the discontinuities – and threat of oblivion – of the passage of time. that draws this comment in a journal entry of February 16.27 she also enjoyed Latin which. or for its effect on the architecture of the sentence’. In To the Lighthouse. has a ‘charm [.. H. which aspires to the same cultural status.. if ‘without the vitality of my dear old Greeks’. Indeed..28 It is the reading of Virgil.

the reading of Virgil was also associated with her father and his fierce.31 Here she is already cultivating the habit of reading authors alongside each other. Woolf is here optimistic about the capacity of the literary monuments of Western European . Shakespeare and Dante in a closing exhortation to ‘common readers’ that they read both ‘old and new’ in order at once to ‘preserve and to create’. Virgil remains important for Woolf. and Virgil and Shakespeare’. 1940. The practice of comparison is indeed already a habit. which will no longer be dominated by a male elite. formal (and in retrospect slightly comical) rigour: recalling in later years a scene of family reading. including one on the Latin poet. Though not frequently named. the novel that she wrote in memory of her brother (who died in 1906). where she poignantly evokes the figure of Virgil and his Georgics to mediate an imagined shared consciousness of sister (authorial narrator) and brother (protagonist) – a healing (re)union of minds. These associations return in Jacob’s Room (1922). where she plans several articles (none apparently written). where she records her reading of and response to the fourth book of Virgil’s Georgics. dated July 28. named as one of a pantheon of immortals alongside Aeschylus. and so to bring about the new. In an essay of the same year (first given as a paper in May).29 If associated in particular with her brother. Virgil is. For she compares Virgil’s ‘exquisite delicacy’ of description to Pope’s in The Rape of the Lock and likens the figure of Cyrene to Milton’s figure of Sabrina in Comus. Woolf describes how he ‘jumped at a false quantity when we read Virgil with him. more egalitarian post (second world) war order. In a letter of 1898 she invites Emma Vaughan to join her Virgil reading class. 1908.298 margaret tudeau-clayton T[hoby]’ (her brother) that she had read the previous summer and that had ‘brought a sense of harmony’ into her disturbed mind (following a severe bout of mental illness and a suicide attempt). Virgil and his Georgics are thus associated from an early date at once with the relation to her brother and with the haunting and healing power – the ‘charm’ – of the art of poetry. while in 1906 she writes to Violet Dickinson that she is ‘reading a Greek play. This much is indicated in a journal entry of March 21. moreover.’30 But her reading of Virgil was also shared with women friends. as we can see from the most specific early reference to Virgil in one of her unpublished notebooks.32 Recommending as she does elsewhere that readers compare old and new in order to make a critical judgement. anticipating the method of comparative criticism that she will recommend and practice in her essays and thematise in To the Lighthouse.

‘all writers whose books survive have known how to master’ the fragmentary impressions of experience: ‘they have mastered their perceptions. is without the confidence exhibited by the essay in the inherent value of aesthetic form and its sufficiency to guarantee cultural survival. which. though ‘we want to be rid of realism. which thus thematises what is a general concern in the essays and a particular concern in the journal where Woolf records her struggles to impose shape.35 and to preserve their sense of aesthetic ‘shape’. in the process. which is ‘concocted’ like ‘[t]hree quarters of the novels’ today of ‘experience’ without the shaping ‘discipline’ of form. ‘[t]here is no shape’ to the ‘apparitions’ in Miss Stern’s A Deputy was King. to cite just one instance. ‘Time Passes’. or ‘shape’. is crucial to critical judgement. who recommends. In ‘The Window’ Mrs Ramsay conceives of her . is for Woolf a necessary condition if contemporary English fiction is to survive its historical moment. aesthetic form. Thus.. having read through a novel by Scott.36 By contrast. but who. to penetrate without its help into the regions beneath it. to generalise as the authors of past masterpieces had done.39 In the novel it is with the two female artist figures – Mrs Ramsay and Lily – that the aspiration to shape is particularly associated. had lost qualities crucial to ‘an enduring existence’34: the poet’s capacity to transcend the particular and the personal.38 The question of and quest for ‘shape’ recur in To the Lighthouse. ‘could not remember the whole shape of the thing’ (130). Her quarrel was indeed not only with those moderns who turned out the conventional thirty-two chapters of bourgeois realism. that is.] typical of the modern mind’.. In ‘The Window’ Mr Ramsay. This is in (perhaps deliberate) contrast to the vision in ‘Time Passes’ of a new post (first world) war order which poses a threat to their survival.33 but also with those who had made the break with bourgeois realism in order to ‘record the changes [. In essays of the 1920s she repeatedly laments the deficiencies of modern writing in this respect – its lack of aesthetic ‘shape’ and its consequent failure to meet the conditions of survival. as it is for Woolf. for him.37 Thus. in ‘How Should One Read’ that readers suspend judgement until the book ‘takes on a definite shape’. hardened them and changed them into the fabric of their art’.’ we ‘further require’ that the modern writer ‘shall fashion this new material into something which has the shapeliness of the old accepted forms’. especially on the second part of the novel. If not necessarily sufficient.‘Time Passes’ 299 culture to survive a radical restructuring of the socio-political context of reception in England.

Mrs Ramsay achieved ‘shape’ ‘in the midst of chaos’. well I rush at it and at once scatter out two pages. she writes. the passage of time. all eyeless and featureless. For Lily.. no people’s characters. when she tackles the painting for a second time. to accept the advice of the critics ‘by consulting the masterpieces of the past. while both translate as geometric figures the triadic character of the novel in which they appear. at one moment enthusiastic.. my emphasis). she sees as the ‘problem’ in her tripartite conception: ‘this impersonal thing [. as she notes in her journal. whether literally or mentally.300 margaret tudeau-clayton essential self as a ‘wedge-shaped core of darkness’ (69).] the passage of time. in ‘The Lighthouse’. For Woolf it is similarly the middle passage of To the Lighthouse that. with nothing to cling to. as Lily tries to do in her painting. delights in ‘a curved shape against a round shape’ in a dish of fruit (118). 94.. For Woolf it is at such moments of doubt that the modern writer needs to turn to past masterpieces.’40 Vacillating and insecure as she tackles her own attempt at ground-breaking contemporary writing. ‘I cannot make it out – here is the most difficult abstract piece of writing – I have to give an empty house. my emphasis). most memorably. impelled [. at the next pessimistic’ about contemporary writing it is ‘time’. and the consequent break of unity in my design’ (July 20. where Lily perceives her as ‘an august shape. Is it nonsense? is it brilliance?’ (April 30.] by some imperious need to anchor our instability upon their security. More particularly. . ‘making of the moment something permanent’ (176). In its triadic character this shape anticipates the wedge shape Mrs Ramsay conceives as her essence. 1925. Lily thinks of her painting in terms of a relation between masses on the right and left with a problematic middle where she fears ‘the unity of the whole might be broken’ (60. and which preoccupies her throughout ‘The Window’ (92. the shape of a dome’ (58. Woolf reaches. 1926). and. finds the ‘essence of life’ ‘shaped’ in the classical form of the Shakespearean sonnet (132).. 101. 111) and ‘The Lighthouse’ (161. ‘Lovely’ is the closing comment in her notebook entry on Georgics IV. We feel ourselves indeed driven to them. my emphasis) – a shape which links her to the figure of Augustus Carmichael as I’ll consider shortly – a perception which is then translated into a ‘triangular purple shape’ on her canvas. for the Latin poet she associates with a (paternal) formal discipline. 191). and specifically for the poem that she associates with the healing ‘harmony’ of aesthetic form. when ‘vacillating from extreme to extreme. Mrs Ramsay also represents the ‘shape’ of Lily’s artistic aspiration in ‘The Lighthouse’ (195) and in ‘The Window’.

a likeness that is underscored in the final version of To the Lighthouse by Woolf’s introduction. both set the permanence of natural elements and cycles against the tendency. use the imagery of war to represent nature’s destructive tendency. as she puts it here. moon & stars’. to degeneration and destruction. At one level a response. the reiterated name of Virgil serves as a metonymy of cultural survival even as it marks the ‘cutting out’ – excision as well as frame – which aesthetic shape requires. a juxtaposition that she introduces into the final version of ‘Time Passes’ through the figure of Augustus Carmichael. for the first time..42 Woolf and Virgil. at the point where it is particularly striking (sections 6–7).43 This function is indicated in the final version by the naming of Virgil in two descriptions of the scene of reading at the close of each of the first two sections. Virgil and his ‘carefully finished’ Georgics thus furnish a cultural landmark for Woolf as she works to give shape to writing in which. that is.‘Time Passes’ 301 which follows her compressed rendering of the seven line epilogue with which Virgil summarises and frames the four books as a single poem: ‘This is the song I Virgil made. Used here as they are throughout the final version of ‘Time Passes’ (they don’t appear in the holograph MS) to bracket – cut out – singular events of linear history. As Woolf’s outline suggests. which is a drastically curtailed version of the description of the descent into oblivion of the first night with its interrogation ‘How long would they endure?’ (138).44 This ‘cutting out’ is at once visually represented and complicated by the square brackets which are employed here.] Sun. It was past midnight. 1926. who was reading Virgil. Both. which evokes at once the classicist aesthetic and the figure of Virgil’s imperial patron. Marking the close of each section. to enclose the second description of the scene of reading: ‘[Here Mr Carmichael. moreover. it is specifically with Virgil’s Georgics I that ‘Time Passes’ shares a crucial structuring opposition – ‘The gradual dissolution of everything […] contrasted with the permanence of – [. the name of Virgil at the same time frames what comes between.. in nature as in human history. of the figure of Augustus Carmichael and the poetry he produces during the war. while Caesar was conquering and making laws. blew out his candle. she feels ‘all over the place’.]’ (139). as she puts it in a letter of May 15. the brackets signal the perilous dependence .’41 Woolf’s compressed version foregrounds the contrastive juxtaposition of the making of poetry and the making of war. who produces a volume of poetry during the war and who is associated with Virgil both by the act of reading and by his first name.

Cut out by square brackets. Linear temporal structures and linear history are thus subordinated to recurrent natural cycles as they are in Georgics I. Woolf thus combines without resolving the contradictory aspirations of her project. Augustus Carmichael is a more general figure in the final version of ‘Time Passes’. been anticipated by earlier descriptions of the recurring natural phenomena of storms in terms of war (‘proelia’. Serving here to introduce the Virgilian juxtaposition of poetry and war. moreover. but also the linear sequence of the ten numbered sections which correspond to the passage of ten years only at this numerical level. and so take on general significance as illustrations of the tendency in human society to degenerate into destruction. lines 466–497). Details of a personal history which feature in the MS have been again cut out. so that. These events have. where she too describes nature’s signs of war. when the death of Julius Caesar and the civil wars are invoked (Georgics I. like and with nature. which is without singular event until the very close. convinced of ‘the ineffectiveness of action. we ‘know the outline not the detail’ (211). lines 318. notably in her central section 7 when she describes the ‘universe […] battling’ and ‘the chaos and tumult of night’ (147). that is. which is a success because ‘the war had [. These cycles counterpoint not only the (bracketed) singular events. just as Woolf’s novelist of the future will give ‘the outline rather than the detail’ – as poetry does. and ‘The Seasons’ (Woolf’s outline).. ‘agmen’ [Georgics I. the singular events of linear history appear as punctual interruptions to the recurring natural cycles of night and day. like Lily. ‘tumult’ (not in the MS) may be an echo of Virgil who uses ‘tumultus’ (line 464) of the wars predicted by the signs of nature (line 439). Augustus Carmichael is perceived by Mrs Ramsay as well as by Lily from this ‘poetic’ perspective as a ‘monumental and contemplative’ ‘brooding’ figure (105). or what Woolf (like Fairclough in his translation) calls ‘tokens’ (145) in section 6. on the very singularity of linear history that is ‘cut out’ by the imperatives of the lyrical mode to generality and aesthetic shape as well as by the affirmations of continuity with Virgil’s writing. the .45 Though viewed like most of her characters from several different and contradictory perspectives..] revived interest in poetry’ (146). Human and natural violence – war and storms – are brought together by Woolf too.302 margaret tudeau-clayton of Virgil’s cultural survival on particular readers and writers in time. To foreground the likeness she inserts at the end of this section the event of the publication of ‘a volume of poetry’ by Augustus Carmichael. 322]).

the novel’s ‘lyric portions’ are ‘collected’ (September 5.47 Augustus Carmichael is not. as if the individual and collective traumas of the passage of time had not been or. however. The maternal figure thus acquires a more general significance as a figure of ‘the beauty of this world’ (42). just as Woolf herself seeks to do in To the Lighthouse. They are linked too by the figure of the asphodel. the to kalon of ancient culture. This explicit link to the figure of Augustus Carmichael is then underscored in the final version by a description of them ‘united’ in a shared appreciation of a dish of fruit (105–106)... the loss of which is imagined in ‘Time Passes’ when of course the death of Mrs Ramsay is narrated. Like the name of Virgil marking closure. 1926). in other words. only Mrs Ramsay in the MS). which Virgil celebrates as the human . Pope). 225. Mrs Ramsay in ‘The Window’ ‘wore to Lily’s eyes. the shape of a dome’ (58. while for Lily in ‘The Lighthouse’ ‘one would be thinking of Greek temples’ when listening to her speak (212).48 The imagined loss is. he is associated with ‘the incantation and the mystery’ that poetry represents. and exhibits the ‘aloof’ perspective of the poetic mode46 – ‘[t]here was an aloofness about him’ (211).] surveying [.‘Time Passes’ 303 supremacy of thought’ (213). Like Virgil writing poetry while war is waged.. and ‘spreading his hands over all the weakness and suffering of mankind [. In ‘Time Passes’ the threat of loss is represented by the figures of the ‘energy of labour’ (139).] much as it used to look years ago’ (155).] their final destiny’ at the close of ‘The Lighthouse’ (225). my emphasis). that it looked. as if they had been cut out. the only figure associated with the perspective and aesthetic character of the poetic mode that Virgil and his Georgics represent. and which is mentioned in connection with them both in the final version (34... the immortal beauty of Mrs Ramsay is explicitly ‘Greek’ (34). an august shape. who makes this connection in ‘The Window’. however. notably in this part in which. an echo of the earlier description of Mrs Ramsay that invites readers to imagine – with Augustus Carmichael. he assumes at moments the appearance of a Virgilian vatic poet: ‘chanting’ poetry in a ‘long white robe’ (120) with religious seriousness at the close of the dinner scene in ‘The Window’. as she comments in her journal. This perspective is what Woolf’s novelist of the future will need to capture. dispelled at the close of ‘Time Passes’ by the return of ‘the voice of the beauty of this world’ (154). who also returns at this close – that ‘it looked [. the flower of pagan classical culture which is associated with immortality in the English literary tradition (Milton. As I mentioned earlier.. we might say. For Mr Bankes.

51 In this connection it is worth recalling . ‘it was finished’. with which George is twice observed by his mother. by the alignment of the figures of human labour – George Best and Mrs McNab – with the tendency toward degeneration and destruction that they work against. the scythe (Georgics I. working to control the growth of unproductive vegetation and the invasion by rodent animals which Virgil specifies as instances of nature’s degenerative tendency requiring a farmer’s attention. Details have again been cut out to leave the sparsest of outlines to this figure that Woolf names George. as an ambivalent figure who should be seen in relation to Woolf’s mixed feelings about the working class at the time of the General Strike in May 1926. The survival of Virgil and of the aesthetic ideal that the Georgics represent is thus. where he is introduced earlier than in the MS. line 348). is derived from the Greek for farmer.] her son scything’ (153). George ‘caught the rats and cut the grass’ (152.49 To this is added the time-honoured instrument of agricultural labour. the verbal repetition suggesting the rhythm of his work: ‘George scything the grass [. The Virgilian opposition of human labour to natural degeneration is complicated. that is. like the name. threatened by the figures of human labour that the poem idealises and celebrates.50 This is reinforced in the final version. The son of Mrs McNab’s fellow worker. It is a choice suggestive of the title of Virgil’s poem. Woolf assimilates the work of her labourers to the Virgilian ideal of redemptive labour by introducing into the final version of ‘Time Passes’ a biblical echo of Christ’s dying words. including the Waverley novels around which the question of cultural survival had turned in ‘The Window’ (152). which. as Woolf surely knew. ironically. the shape that George Best acquires in the final version is suggestive of the Virgilian poem. associated at once with redemptive labour and with the oblivion of time against which such labour works. to mark the end of the ‘labour within and cutting and digging without’ (153). George Best functions. George is shadowed by another scythe-wielding figure.. As a double agent. Marking time by this rhythmic repetition. only the latter in the MS)..304 margaret tudeau-clayton force that conquers the degenerative tendency in nature: ‘labor omnia vicit’ (Georgics I. having hesitated between Fred and George in the MS. More particularly. then. line 145). in a sentence immediately following a description of the ‘pool of Time’ and the ‘oblivion’ from which Mrs McNab and Mrs Best ‘rescued’ various objects. Mrs Best. Time itself: ‘nothing ’gainst time’s scythe can make defence’. Whether or not she was conscious of the irony (as I suspect she was).

she is repeatedly characterised through the privative suffix: ‘witless’. [. the redemptive cultural work of art. The last phrase is echoed two sections later in the description of the ‘universe [. Again a more general figure (though more individualised than George Best).] in brute confusion and wanton lust aimlessly by itself’ (147).] the voice of the beauty of the world’ (154. the ‘as if’ of the negative underside of the forces of labour. This is underscored by a description of Mrs McNab ‘akimbo in front of the looking glass’ (147). Later described as ‘wantoning on’ (153).. undirected and uncontrolled negative energy of the natural forces that her labour works to contain.] stood chanting’ (120). the next sentence represents the radical erasure – the oblivion of the pool of Time – as an imagined condition. Mrs McNab represents a threat of negation to the classical culture and aesthetic ideal that Virgil and his Georgics stand for and that are associated with Augustus Carmichael and Mrs Ramsay.‘Time Passes’ 305 that the sickle – near relative of the scythe and likewise associated with time/death – had recently acquired a historically specific significance as the emblem of agricultural labour in the ensign of the Russian revolution.52 With her own working class culture of popular theatre.. which follows . Mrs McNab is associated with the natural forces of degeneration and destruction that she works against: destructive (‘breaking the veil of silence’ [142]). This description recalls the solemn close of the dinner scene when Augustus Carmichael. Mrs McNab is thus associated with the arbitrary. The threat represented by the figures of redemptive labour is signalled too in the final version of the character of Mrs McNab... A fear of revolutionary erasure is indeed suggested in the sentence which follows the affirmation of the achievement of the work of redemptive labour: ‘it was finished’ (153). which is itself erased by the return of that which they have threatened to erase: ‘And now as if the cleaning and the scrubbing and the mowing had drowned it there rose that half heard melody. public houses and gossip (142–143). ‘aimlessly smiling’ (143).] battling [.. ‘the voice of witlessness’ (142)... ‘holding his table napkin so that it looked like a long white robe. my emphasis). who are agents of a different redemptive work. that intermittent music [.. ‘a force working [. invasive and ungainly (‘she broke in and lurched about’ [145]). the music hall.] something not inspired to go about its work with dignified ritual and solemn chanting’ (151). This voice returns with Augustus Carmichael and Lily (not in the MS).. Denying the status of final word to this affirmation.. Her labour is itself described as a negation.

by the return of ‘the beauty of the world’ together with the figures of Augustus Carmichael and Lily Briscoe at the close of ‘Time Passes’. as I have remarked. What is finished. which is set against them: ‘A brush.. or cut out.] to marvel how beauty outside mirrored beauty within.. The trauma of the loss of this beauty – the beauty of the world – and of the maternal figure which embodies it is thus ‘cut out’ – cancelled/healed – by the redemptive nature of Lily’s/Woolf’s work of art..] shape’ of Lily’s painting and the tripartite structure of the novel. [.. Continuity is also asserted through the alignment of the tripartite structure of the novel with the tripartite structures of the Virgilian and Shakespearean generic sequences to which Woolf’s sequence of parts corresponds53: ‘The Window’ to pastoral and comedy (especially in the combination of marriage and feasting at its close).306 margaret tudeau-clayton a description. is at once the ‘triangular [. This last correspondence is suggested not only through the epic motif of the symbolic journey and the figure of Mr Ramsay as a self-cast epic . the one dependable thing in a world of strife.. The continuity of these aesthetic forms with ancient pagan culture and its beauty is underscored by the final description of Augustus Carmichael as a ‘pagan god’ with a ‘trident’/novel in his hand (225). like the act of redemptive labour. [. in terms of the traditional (Platonic) trope of the mirror.. is. the novel’s penultimate sentence. even oppositional thrust. ruin. however. More precisely. of a rupture of continuity in an idea of beauty brought about by the war: ‘It was difficult [. Lily returns to the painting she had started before the passage of time and works out a final shape for it even as she recovers the memory of Mrs Ramsay.] to continue. and ‘The Lighthouse’ to epic and tragedy. ‘Time Passes’ to georgic and history. how chaotic’ (160) – especially in relation to her art.] the mirror was broken’ (146). which is singular and punctual. ‘It was finished’ (226). This recovery in aesthetic shape at once of the maternal figure and of the beauty of the world suggests that the echo that we find at the close of ‘The Lighthouse’ of the biblical phrase used in ‘Time Passes’ to mark the close of the work of redemptive labour carries not only a complementary but also a contrastive. marks the completion of the work of art (painting/novel). chaos’ (164).. The threat.. cancelled. specifically. who represents this ‘shape’: ‘in the midst of chaos there was shape’ (176). but which opposes the threat of negation that the figures of labour carry. In ‘The Lighthouse’ it is rather the redemptive work of art that is celebrated through the figure of Lily whose thoughts recall the threat of the forces of negation – ‘How aimless it was.

Mr Ramsay ‘looked like a king in exile’ who. just as Woolf’s novel does. in particular his daughter Cam.’ This brings us back to Marcel Proust. an early enthusiast for Proust who later became as fierce a critic. as Delattre pointed out. Indeed. nor as a play or sonnet by Shakespeare. who is first mentioned by Woolf in a journal entry for April 18. the title of which – Remembrance of Things Past – echoes a Shakespearean sonnet. (whose name I’ve forgotten)’. wild gaze’ and ‘his imperious need’ (160). invites comparison with the modern masterpiece that earlier textual echoes have already evoked and that does similar redemptive work: Marcel Proust’s A la recherche du temps perdu. but as ‘a French novel’. not as a poem by Virgil.55 3 ‘My great adventure is really Proust. the identification of the ‘trident’ that Augustus Carmichael holds in his hand. With his ‘distraught.57 Whether . ‘he read a quotation from a book by Proust. she writes. Moreover.56 ‘Occasionally’. which had been published by Bernard Grasset in 1913 with an advertisement for two further volumes. This book was of course the first and at this point only volume of A la recherche du temps perdu. for Lily. would have ‘flung himself tragically back into the bitter waters of despair’ had his children said ‘no’ and. ‘his sudden roars of ill-temper’ (167). slightly comic in his histrionic self-dramatisations. It thus carries these ‘classics’ along with the tripartite shape that they illustrate into the future. 185).‘Time Passes’ 307 hero. Recalling Cordelia. Lily ‘could say nothing’ (166). where she summarises a conversation with Roger Fry. performing the redemptive work for particular texts as well as for an aesthetic shape that the close of the novel affirms. Proust’s novel was immediately assimilated into the heart of the English literary tradition by Scott Moncrieff’s translation (which appeared from 1922). as it echoes a Shakespearean sonnet in ‘The Window’ and as it echoes Virgil in ‘Time Passes’. the novel once again combines personal and particular memories with the collective and general (and who has not glimpsed their father in King Lear?). but also through recurring echoes of the opening scene of King Lear. who ‘said nothing’ (184. as later his children ‘would say nothing’ (178). Du côté de chez Swann.54 Echoing Shakespearean tragedy here. in the scene of reading which comes between the Proustian dinner scene in ‘The Window’ and the scene of Augustus Carmichael’s reading of Virgil in ‘Time Passes’. ‘this was tragedy – […] children coerced’ (162–163). 1918.

When she finally takes the ‘plunge’ (a word used of reading in To the Lighthouse [206]). but then he writes French. and waiting to be submerged with a horrid sort of notion that I shall go down and down and down and perhaps never come up again. M. For if she talks about Proust. an overwhelming of the self in a definitive annihilation – the psychic equivalent of the cultural erasure imagined in ‘Time Passes’. the experience is couched in the not so very different terms of the ‘little death’ of sexual rapture. . she adds: ‘Does Proust come out of it well? Ah. she discusses him with Fry again in December 1921. explicitly in the context of future ‘masterpieces’: ‘Roger always sees masterpieces ahead of him & I see great novels’ (December 18). it is likely then that Woolf knew of the original tripartite conception of Proust’s project. who will embody and ironise Woolf’s ongoing authorial anxiety about cultural status and survival. and when she writes to Fry in France. as we saw above. an anxiety with which the response to Proust is tied up. however. although. Writing to Fry again in May 1922 she ‘propose[s] to sink’ ‘all day’ into the second volume. as she records in her journal. Forster in the following January (1922) underscores how anxious apprehension is stronger than desire.308 margaret tudeau-clayton from this or from the conversation with Fry. A l’ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs. Every one is reading Proust. which is also figured as drowning. A letter to E. but I’m shivering on the brink.59 The second volume. Please bring him back for me to read’. perhaps. This is exactly the critical idiom of Mr Ramsay (130). Whether or not Fry brought the second volume back from France as she asked him to.58 She does not. start reading it for herself. he had brought back from France after all. a formal public recognition of cultural status which Woolf perhaps anticipates here and which later haunts the advertised filiation in To the Lighthouse. It seems to be a tremendous experience. in December it would receive the Prix Goncourt.61 I sit silent and hear their reports. Woolf still does not read him. telling him about the recent publication of Night and Day in November 1919. had been out since June 1919.62 The threat of taking on the widely acknowledged contemporary masterpiece is here represented as death by drowning. which. She records too that she is reading Hardy (who will be paired with Proust as a ‘great writer’ of ‘masterpieces’ in an essay of 192660) and her expectation that ‘[t]his at least is going to be first rate’. Woolf still does not begin to read Proust.

the second revised version of ‘Modern Novels’ (1919): ‘Life escapes […] this.65 We might compare this with what she writes about Arnold Bennett’s novels in ‘Modern Fiction’ (1925).. assimilated into the vast textual archive of her memory on which she draws to ‘speak her mind for her’. who.‘Time Passes’ 309 and goes on to describe the experience in a self-conscious dramatisation of the encounter that. And at the moment such is the astonishing vibration and saturation and intensification that he procures – theres something sexual in it – that I feel I can write like that. temporarily. [. although she continues to read and refer to Proust. at last. if more sporadically. in her more private writing (journal..66 Her critical writing on modern fiction thus develops in tandem with her writing on Proust. and it is precisely ‘the task of the novelist to convey this varying. releases her – and her writing – from the disabling paralysis that the desire for fusional likeness – to ‘write like that’ – induces: Proust titillates my own desire for expression that I can hardly set out the sentence. Well – what remains to be written after that? […] How.. is consistently presented.. letters) as well as in her essays. and seize my pen and then I can’t write like that. but she begins to mediate the ‘great adventure’. the essential thing.64 Writing to Fry again in October 1922 Woolf is still absolute in her enthusiasm.] refuses to be contained’ in the obligatory thirty-two chapters of the bourgeois realist novel. has someone solidified what has always escaped – and made it too into this beautiful and perfectly enduring substance? [. until 1937 by which time his writing will have become. Scarcely anyone so stimulates the nerves of language in me: it becomes an obsession.63 Blocked by the obsession she does not persevere with Proust over the summer and it is only in October 1922 that she records in her journal that she ‘now begin[s] Proust’ (October 4). this unknown and uncircumscribed spirit’. in a more impersonal discourse that resembles the language of her essays on modern fiction. like Virgil’s. as she calls it.67 . My great adventure is really Proust. This marks the beginning of the most intense period of the relationship (1922–1927). as the epitome of the modern master who has achieved the seemingly impossible task of combining apparently contradictory qualities – here ‘perfect serenity’ and ‘intense vitality’ – in writing that will survive and endure. Oh if I could write like that! I cry. from this point on.] perfect serenity and intense vitality combined.

she asks herself if ‘the next lap will be influenced by Proust?’. as we saw earlier. comparisons that are coloured by the complex of personal feelings that I have called anxious desire.70 At the same time she draws comparisons in her journal between Proust’s A la recherche du temps perdu and her own writing. Flinch. whether ancient (Homer. As in the essays. she returns to her fiction after yet another pause. Forster. As she records. however. general impressions: from the many things being combined. in letters as well as essays.310 margaret tudeau-clayton In the reading programme recorded in her journal Proust is juxtaposed both with the classics of literature. goes on: ‘yet his command of every resource is so extravagant that one can hardly fail to profit. so persuasive is he’ (November 18). Proust’s consummate skill lies in the fusion into a whole of multiple. Woolf finds lacking in D. disparate impressions. a continuity that. & must not flinch through cowardice’ (February 10). Sophocles) or more recent (Stendhal). she is working intermittently on Mrs Dalloway when she begins to read Proust alongside Joyce’s Ulysses in October 1922. These juxtapositions translate into comparisons. for instance. as in many respects it surely does. Lawrence. for instance. the indications from her journal are that the comparisons she draws are rather with Proust. here perceived as . although it is Proust who ‘could say what [she] mean[s]’ when she is trying to describe a party of the ‘upper classes’. H. M. but not in E. gets wholes. For she ‘cannot read’ Proust. No doubt Proust could say what I mean – that great writer whom I cannot read when I’m correcting.68 while in an essay of the same year she describes Jane Austen as a ‘forerunner’ to Proust. perhaps with the scene at the conclusion of Mrs Dalloway in mind: ‘One sees groups. in a letter to a friend in 1925. Hardy is indeed the one English modern that she judges Proust’s equal.71 Though it is with Joyce’s Ulysses that Mrs Dalloway is usually taken by critics to engage. where we also find other comparisons. she recommends Proust over Dickens for ‘zest’. For Woolf this continuity is as crucial to the ‘authority of a masterpiece’ as the ‘single vision’ that she finds in Proust and Hardy. Forster). and with his modern contemporaries (Joyce. in February 1923. however. and having assuaged the implicit anxiety by reminding herself once again of his linguistic and cultural difference.72 When. is precisely what she does when she comes to revise Mrs Dalloway in the autumn of 1924.69 Such comparisons tacitly affirm the continuity of Proust with the classics of the literary tradition. especially her two experimental novels Mrs Dalloway and To the Lighthouse. This very skill is.

‘Time Passes’ 311 a threat to authorial autonomy. notably the introduction of ‘feathery and evanescent’ and the figure of the ‘butterfly’s wing’. Woolf avoids the disabling anxiety . ‘nothing […] compared with Proust in whom I am embedded now’. Beautiful and bright it should be on the surface. 1925) is recalled through the figure of Lily Briscoe. (186) Changes in the final version. for Woolf the reader – a sense of being held by Proust’s writing (‘embedded’) – brings disabling anxiety for Woolf the writer. one colour melting into another like the colours on a butterfly’s wing. is. For the passage. the echo underscores her anxiety about the loss of authorial autonomy that the desire to ‘write like that’ induces. Recalling her own mediation of Proust’s writing rather than the writing itself. embedded in reflections on her own writing in relation to it. 1925. The thing about Proust is his combination of the utmost sensibility with the utmost tenacity. and consists in the combination of contradictory and heterogeneous qualities. common to modern painting and modern writing. a striking image of being carried by the idiom of another which echoes the previous diary entry: ‘I am going to skate rapidly over Mrs D’ (November 1). Whether conscious or not. security even. to use Woolf’s own word. adding: ‘And he will I suppose both influence me & make me out of temper with every sentence of my own’. feathery and evanescent. What brings pleasure. but beneath the fabric must be clamped together with bolts of iron. and again she prefers not to read in order to be able to write. she comes to the severe conclusion. suggest conscious recollection. which is echoed in the description of Lily’s ideal model for her painting in ‘The Lighthouse’. The threat is such that it inhibits her own writing. Pondering whether she has achieved something with Mrs Dalloway. As the explicit echo underlines. This is signalled when Woolf goes on to represent the effect of Proust’s ‘persuasiveness’ as ‘slipping along on borrowed skates’. this goal is an aesthetic one. which describes Proust’s achievement. who suffers from the same anguish of self-doubt even as she aspires to the same goal as Woolf. Woolf’s alter ego in the novel.73 Just how closely anxiety about her own writing is tied up with desire for likeness to Proust’s is signalled by the context of the passage from the journal entry for April 8. He searches out those butterfly shades to the last grain. This scene of authorial anxiety as she is about to begin To the Lighthouse (which is first mentioned in the journal on May 14. possibly even a return to the passage in the journal and its associated scene of reading. He is as tough as catgut & as evanescent as a butterfly’s bloom.

as a culinary . however.. as they do in France. but also by journal entries during the period of the gestation of To the Lighthouse (April through August 1925). It is not. Woolf’s concern with cultural status and survival is also expressed in essays of the period where she underscores how crucial it is not only that writers introduce enduring aesthetic qualities into their work.. arrived. triumphant with this book’ (Mrs Dalloway) (June 16). as I also pointed out. As I mentioned earlier. as I suggested.] ready to acclaim me successful.312 margaret tudeau-clayton of the scene of reading even as she recalls it through the figure of Lily. ‘my friends are enthusiastic [. a comment that is immediately followed by her reaction to a published comment of Middleton Murry’s that she will not be read in ‘10 years time’: ‘Well. while immersed in the writing of To the Lighthouse in February 1926. but also that readers and critics begin to ‘take fiction seriously’. ‘Clive and others [. Woolf advertises the intertextual relationship between her dinner scene and the opening of A l’ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs. More specifically. the product of this recipe – Mildred’s Bœuf en Daube – is described as a ‘masterpiece’ (87). whose anxiety is heightened through its association with the desire for the maternal figure which Lily. by the Proustian scene that she evokes. she muses on April 20. For what Woolf calls ‘the fate of a book’ (May 17) in relation to Mrs Dalloway and ‘the temperature chart of a book’ (May 4) in relation to The Common Reader are measured here by meticulously recorded sales figures and the comments of reviewers. Woolf’s aspiration to this status – the status of a masterpiece – is indicated not only.. imagined so profusely’.] say it is a masterpiece’ (June 18). seeks to recover in her art. she records satisfaction at her progress – ‘never have I written so easily. If the anxious desire of Woolf’s relation to Proust is associated via the figure of Lily with the past-oriented emotional trauma at the origin of her art – the loss of the maternal figure – it is associated through the figure of Mr Ramsay with the future-oriented aspiration to elevated cultural status and survival in the scenes at the close of ‘The Window’ that I have already discussed.. whereas ‘[w]hat passes for cookery in England is an abomination’ (109).74 This comment follows the reference to the ‘French recipe’ through which. tonight I get a new edition of the V[oyage] O[ut] from Harcourt Brace – this was published 11 years ago’ (February 8). like Woolf. only their fiction that the French take seriously. friends and acquaintances and attended by reflections on her changing cultural status: ‘suppose I might become one of the interesting – I will not say great – but interesting novelists?’. but also their cooking. Again. that is.

‘Time Passes’ 313 work of art. like Proust. the Bœuf Mode (much like Bœuf en Daube) that he has enjoyed: ‘que mon style soit aussi brillant. represented in both cases by Michelangelo. Proust is more direct. and with their own writing.77 Within these scenes.75 Caught up in the throes of creation the day before the dinner. notably at its moment of presentation when. aussi clair. Woolf insists on the attention bestowed upon the dish by its creator: ‘[t]he cook had spent three days over that dish’. whereas Proust’s description. evokes rather masses – blocks of marble. however. Françoise. the desire to succeed in his ‘œuvre’ as she has succeeded in hers. Woolf too hints at parallels when the contents of Mildred’s dish are described. couché par le Michel-Ange de notre cuisine sur d’énormes cristaux de gelée pareils à des blocs de quartz transparent’ (29). in which he expresses. comparing his cook. Suggesting a still life painting rather than sculptured figures. muscular male bodies. cuts of meat. Céline Cotton. which is an addition to the final version. invite comparisons at once with traditionally ‘higher’ forms of visual art. if both Proust and Woolf recurrently draw parallels between their writing and the art of painting. she is likened in her pursuit of the best ingredients to Michelangelo ‘passant huit mois dans les montagnes de Carrare à choisir les blocs de marbre les plus parfaits pour le monument de Jules II’. if playfully. Sustained over several lines here. Both. Indeed. The phrase ‘Mildred’s masterpiece’.76 Proust also draws a direct and specific comparison between his writing and the art of cooking in a letter to a hostess. echoes an earlier description of ‘the authenticated masterpiece by Michael Angelo’ (35) which hangs on the wall of the Ramsays’ holiday home. the comparison is reiterated when the dish is presented at table: ‘Le bœuf froid aux carottes fit son apparition. Again . chunks of gelée – and the contrasting qualities of softness and hardness. Woolf’s description evokes (again) a blending of heterogeneous colours and textures. which is without colour. aussi solide que votre gelée – que mes idées soient aussi savoureuses que vos carottes et aussi nourrisantes et fraîches que votre viande’. and the maid removes the cover ‘with a little flourish’ in anticipation of the ‘triumph’ which Mr Bankes then announces (109). writing – and the narrative – are brought into relation with the culinary masterpiece through the ironic contrast between its achieved repose and the unachieved intellectual and artistic aspirations of the protagonists whose subjectivities are explored. through the eyes of Mrs Ramsay. as a ‘confusion of savoury brown and yellow meats and bay leaves and wine’ (109). with the Renaissance artist and sculptor at every stage of the preparation of her culinary ‘œuvre’.

too.78 The performance has been a disappointment. with Lily Briscoe who suffers self-doubt in her artistic aspirations. It was all in scraps and . here represented by the figure of the actress Berma in her performance in Phèdre. There is contrast. Charles Tansley. women can’t paint’ (94). Norpois. As absolute in his condemnation of Bergotte as he is in his praise of Françoise – he calls her a ‘chef de tout premier ordre’ (29) – M. This future orientation of Woolf’s novel finds expression. It is indeed in these contrasts – between the achieved repose of the culinary masterpiece and the unachieved aspirations of the protagonists – that the central structural likeness between the scenes lies. haunted as she is by the cultural prejudice ‘[w]omen can’t write. Through this ironic contrast Proust reflects self-consciously on the character of the artistic/literary masterpiece. with another formative event: the devastation of the narrator’s young self at the dismissive response of M. which he has attended the very day of the dinner with M. Immediately after the extended comparison of Françoise with Michelangelo the narrator contrasts her state – the burning conviction of the great creative artist (‘la brûlante certitude des grands créateurs’) – with his own anxious uncertainty as a young ‘chercheur’ in his aspirations to beauty (‘le beau’). Norpois takes Bergotte to task for an insubstantial formalism and dismisses him as having failed to produce a masterpiece (‘chef-d’œuvre’) that will be valued and preserved (45). as romances oriented to the future as well as to the past. It is a likeness that brings out the ‘common quality’ of the narratives as self-conscious narratives of quest – for a specifically modern subjectivity and for corresponding aesthetic forms which will nevertheless endure as future past masterpieces/chefs-d’œuvre – that is. Norpois to his first literary effort and the long critique of his model. Françoise’s success stands in ironic contrast. himself suffers from a sense that ‘nothing had shaped itself at all. as does Woolf who draws similar if less explicit contrasts. through the figure of Mr Ramsay whose restless self-centred anxiety about cultural survival – ‘how long do you think it’ll last?’ (116) – furnishes a particularly sharp contrast with the ‘perfect triumph’ (114) of ‘Mildred’s masterpiece’. as we have seen. which follows. who voices this prejudice. his feelings and opinions are complex and vacillating and he is clearly still thinking of the actress when later in the evening Françoise is congratulated on her success and he likens her straightforward response to that of a true artist (55–56). as their respective titles signal: To the Lighthouse and A la recherche du temps perdu.314 margaret tudeau-clayton Proust is more explicit than Woolf. too. Bergotte.

that is. The novel thus carries the collective as well as individual past into its own future when it will have become assimilated into the collective cultural archive on which readers draw. that is. which in many ways grows out of To the Lighthouse. Unlike Proust’s protagonist. She thus reiterates the collective character of the masterpiece which the novel both thematises (79) and exemplifies through its advertised filiations to ‘forerunners’. Woolf. insists. like Proust’s chef-d’œuvre. like the quest of Proust’s young protagonist. of an enduring future past masterpiece which ‘would remain’. which invests the ephemeral. There are no such moments of closural triumph in the Proustian scene as there are no such affirmations of survival – ‘this would remain’ – which Woolf’s readers are called upon to acknowledge in relation both to the moment and to the novel in which it appears. Like the ‘perfect triumph’ of the Bœuf en Daube. Her very explicitness. Mrs Ramsay restlessly searches for meaning and shape throughout the scene. Using round brackets to suggest analogy as well as simultaneity. however (but like Lily at the end of the novel).‘Time Passes’ 315 fragments’ (98). *** ‘[M]asterpieces are not single and solitary births’79 Woolf writes in A Room of One’s Own (1929). their lives. a quest which is taken up by Lily in the third part and which reflects an authorial quest. the achievement. on the redemptive function of her own writing. there is triumph in this achieved moment of being. if perfect. and heal. as Proust does not. however. as Woolf calls them here. to shape. as there is at the close of ‘The Window’ when Mrs Ramsay is described as having ‘triumphed again’ (134). . as she does throughout the first part of the novel. her next major piece of writing. individually and collectively. she experiences a ‘moment’ of repose and security as well as a certainty that ‘[t]his would remain’ (114). Most prominently. Mrs Ramsay finally finds what she is looking for: as she serves the Bœuf en Daube. suggests again an anxiety about the achievement of the desired effect. Woolf juxtaposes Mrs Ramsay’s ‘peering into the depths of the earthenware pot’ and finding ‘an especially tender piece’ of meat for Mr Bankes with her discovery of this moment ‘of eternity’. Through these filiations and through its character as redemptive art – emblematised in the figure of tripartite form – To the Lighthouse lays claim to the status of a future past masterpiece even as it affirms continuity through the individual and collective traumas of the passage of time that it ‘cuts out’. event of ‘Mildred’s masterpiece’ with the enduring character of a work of art.

as she practices. however.83 The recipe is.] has nevertheless created one of the most original novels of the time. to conclude: ‘Perhaps one of the most useful things proved by his books is that a mind steeped in tradition [.. The ‘new species’ which will last is here a product of textual cross-breeding.. the language of biology lending a Darwinian touch to its concern with cultural survival. Published the previous year (1919). it is literary filiations that are the measure of cultural status for Richard Aldington..] are always breeding [. Indeed.. S. unexpected couplings. in A Room of One’s Own Proust is described as ‘perhaps a little too much of a woman’ in Woolf’s elaboration of her notion of the androgynous mind.’81 For Woolf this would. coloured by the novel’s combination of filiations to (the ‘male’) Virgil and (the ‘female’) Proust.. past masters. especially given the gender associations each figure carried for Woolf. whose essay on Proust – the first to appear in English – has its own tacitly advertised filiation. she recommends. as we have seen. which is one way of describing the combination of the filiations to Virgil and Proust. With a mind similarly ‘steeped in tradition’. For while Virgil was associated. tracing filiations to various. have been an ideal reception for To the Lighthouse. with the male side of the family. which indeed suggest a sublimated Freudian family romance. comparative critical reading of the new and the old. Proust was rather associated with the female..82 Taken from the version of ‘How One Should Read’ that she wrote as she worked on To the Lighthouse one is tempted to see this as a portrait of the novel. Eliot’s seminal essay ‘Tradition and the Individual Talent’. which we might see here as a reworking of the ‘recipe’ of the modern masterpiece as a combination of heterogeneous elements.] from unexpected matches among themselves’. Eliot’s essay famously calls for the subordination of authorial particularity to the ideal total order of the tradition of Western European literature and for the ‘new’ to be consequently judged according to its relations to the ‘old’.316 margaret tudeau-clayton As we have seen. complicated in A Room of One’s Own by a new ingredient which the novel only touches on. In the novel this is thematised through the figure of Mr Ramsay and exemplified through the juxtaposed literary filiations to the ‘old’ (Virgil and Shakespeare) and the ‘new’ (Proust).80 Following Eliot. namely with T. In its combination of these filiations as well as in its mixing of heterogeneous generic modes the novel finds its originality as a ‘new species’ such as ‘books [. principally French. I imagine. namely the material . Aldington treats Proust as something of a test case. maternal (French) side.

3 ‘How Should One Read a Book?’. Collected Essays II (London: The Hogarth Press. Virginia Woolf has stood ‘en tête de toutes les filiations’. 171). 233–235.‘Time Passes’ 317 contingencies of production and reception and the resulting absence from the literary tradition of women’s voices. edited by Andrew McNeillie. 1–11 (p. references. Woolf refers to the journal and to Richard Aldington in her journal. will be to this edition of the essays. ‘The Approach to Marcel Proust’. cultural selection depends on collective human will. 38–53. Unlike natural selection. pp. in Richard Aldington. pp.) Woolf corresponds with Aldington too. 325–326. Woolf cites the trio ‘Lear. pp. The Letters of Virginia Woolf. 171–180 (p.85 NOTES 1 Richard Aldington. See The Diary of Virginia Woolf. 1966). first published in The English Review in June 1920. In what may be a conscious response to Eliot. in Virginia Woolf. 4 (of 6 planned) vols (London: The Hogarth Press. edited by Anne Olivier Bell. Literary Studies and Reviews (London: George Allen & Unwin. the volume with which To the Lighthouse signals its filiation. all the more so given that. Unless otherwise stated. Precisely such a will was expressed by the group of women who in 1904 set up the Prix Femina as a corrective to the perceived sexist bias of the Prix Goncourt. Virginia Woolf.84 In 1928 Woolf received the Prix Femina (‘pour livre étranger’) for To the Lighthouse. III. pp. in 1922 and 1926. 10). 241). 577. Subsequent references to the letters will give the volume and page number of this edition. or Emma or La Recherche du Temps Perdu’ (sic) in A Room of One’s Own as examples of the achievement of the writer’s highest vocation to communicate ‘reality’. 4 Essays IV. 185. 183. 570–571. and in particular a will to change the conditions of production and reception for female authors. giving volume and page numbers. pp. 5 vols (London: The Hogarth Press. There is then a political as well as poetic justice to this act of public recognition. 1977–1984). 1924). 592–593. 1975–1980). pp. 233–242 (p. (Subsequent references giving the date of the journal entry will be to this edition. if briefly. The selection of the future past masterpiece is thus exposed as a function not only of an intrinsic aesthetic value. for French women writers of the twentieth century. pp. edited by Nigel Nicolson. nine years after Proust had received the Prix Goncourt for A l’ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs. A Room of . but also of the contingencies of a history which is his-story. and so of gender politics. Woolf shows how the tradition – the very tradition with which her novel advertises its affiliation – is not so much given as made. 2 The closing sentence of the later version of ‘How it Strikes a Contemporary’ (1925) in The Essays of Virginia Woolf. 6 vols (London: The Hogarth Press. IV. II. that is. 1986–1994). II.

In 1932 Floris Delattre published a critical study of the novels in which he underscores Woolf’s shared thematic preoccupations with Proust whom he describes as a significant influence. 331–346. 181). pp. 155). Adam: An International Review (1972). which is the most substantial and which focuses on their respective views on painting (and writing). 99. 463). and three pieces by Cheryl Mares: ‘Reading Proust: Woolf and the Painter’s Perspective’. 1990). pp. in Virginia Woolf and The Essay. Aldington. 119–136. 10. Essays IV. Forster’. in ‘The Leaning Tower’ and ‘How it Strikes a Contemporary’ (referenced above). 173–186 (p. The last two largely rehearse points made in the first. Silver (Princeton. 1. ‘“But what? Elegy?”: Modernist Reading and the Death of Mrs Ramsay’. 436. 1932). p. edited by Mary Ann Caws and Eugène Nicole (New York. The quoted phrase comes from ‘The Leaning Tower’ (1940). Essays IV. Essays IV. Randall Stevenson and Jane Goldman. pp. as Hermione Lee puts it. 491–502 (p. ‘serene’ is the word Woolf uses of the ‘air of accomplishment’ of the ‘classics’ in ‘Modern Novels’ (1919). Fiction and the Future’. edited by Beth Carole Rosenberg and Jeanne Dubinoi (Basingstoke: MacMillan. pp. Just prior to publication my attention was drawn to an interesting and original analysis of differences as well as likenesses between To the Lighthouse and the first volume of Proust’s work – Swann’s Way (in the translation by Scott Moncrieff which the author argues Woolf used): Elizabeth Andrews McArthur. 494). ‘Is Fiction an Art?’. Subsequently there has been one short piece. To the Lighthouse. N. various studies of Woolf have touched on aspects of the relation to Proust. Subsequent references will be to this edition. 327–359. 428–441 (pp. pp. 177). ‘“The Burning Ground of the Present”: Woolf and Her Contemporaries’. ‘The Approach to Marcel Proust’. 17–23. p. Virginia Woolf (London: Chatto and Windus. ‘Proust and Virgina Woolf’. 1996). pp. 166. Subsequent references. edited by Michèle Barrett (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books. Le Roman Psychologique de Virginia Woolf (Paris: J. edited by Brenda R. Floris Delattre. Essays IV. edited by Stella McNichol with an introduction and notes by Hermione Lee (London: Penguin. pp. Essays III. 241). ‘Poetry. will be to this edition. 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 . 1997). 142–159. Three Guineas. 176. 1992). Vrin.J. pp. pp. Bern. p. discussed further below. As Mares indicates. pp. pp. Essays IV. p. ‘Jane Austen’ (1925). see Hermione Lee. Virginia Woolf. p. 233–242 (p. in Collected Essays II. pp. largely anecdotal in character though touching on shared themes: George Painter. 413 and Virginia Woolf’s Reading Notebooks. 162–181 (p. 439). ‘The Novels of E. 1983). 31. 457–465 (p. Letters III. 185–195. ‘Following Swann’s Way: To the Lighthouse’. 137. in Reading Proust Now. 146–157 (p. pp. For other instances of how Woolf’s reading and writing ‘infiltrate each other’. For instance. For Richard Aldington see epigraph and n. M. Frankfurt etc: Peter Lang. ‘Woolf’s Reading of Proust’. 365. The Yearbook of English Studies 26 (1996).: Princeton University Press. p. Comparative Literature 56:4 (Fall 2004). Collected Essays II. 1993). given in the text.318 margaret tudeau-clayton One’s Own. Comparative Literature 41 (1989). pp.

To the Lighthouse. 185. The lines are quoted. pp. which may be another indication that To the Lighthouse is . p. Essays IV. edited by Kate Flint (Oxford: Oxford University Press. This has been changed in the later version to ‘his effort will be to generalize and split up’ (Collected Essays II. 162–181 (p. Essays IV. Woolf writes: ‘there were trees laced together with vines – as Virgil said. A Writer’s Life (Oxford: Oxford University Press. 240. Here was a station. 55.’ Virginia Woolf. are trained between elms (see Georgics II. 251. pp. Virgil’s bees had gone about the plains of Lombardy. 439. Editors have failed to comment that the first image here attractively renders ‘ulmisque adiungere vites’ (Georgics I. 30 ‘A Sketch of the Past’ in Virginia Woolf. edited by Mitchell A. p. 35 and Essays II. See too Virginia Woolf’s Reading Notebooks. Letters I. Lawrence’. which. My thanks to The Society of Authors for permission to quote this material. 436. pp. p. 1947). 28 A Passionate Apprentice: The early journals of Virginia Woolf (1897–1909). 34 ‘Poetry. Miles. 20. pp. Jacob’s Room. 374. 61. including the care of vines. Patrick Wilkinson. Moments of Being. if misleadingly.‘Time Passes’ 319 19 See. p. Virgil’s Georgics: A New Interpretation (University of California Press. 1992). Mass. in Lyndall Gordon. 181). 1974). p. 61. 85. pp. H. p. Virginia Woolf: To the Lighthouse (Harmondsworth: Penguin. Fiction and the Future’ that the future novelist’s ‘effort will be to generalise rather than to split up’ (Essays IV. 31 Letters I. lines 358–361 and lines 367–370). p. A. line 2) from Virgil’s opening description of the topics he will treat. for instance. p. ‘“But what? Elegy?”’. Stevenson and Goldman. and a tremendous leave-taking going on. Essays IV. 1980). my emphasis). p. 238. 79–82.: Harvard University Press. 24 Essays IV. Virgil’s Georgics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 27 See. in The Moment and Other Essays (London: Hogarth Press. p. p. The reference to Virgil’s bees alludes to Georgics IV. 86. 215. 29 Describing what the protagonist (Jacob/Thoby) saw on a trip to Italy. 32 ‘The Leaning Tower’. ‘VS Greek and Latin Studies’. Virginia Woolf. Leaska (London: Hogarth Press. with women in high yellow boots and odd pale boys in ringed socks. for instance. edited and translated by H. 1976). 21 Letters III. 33 ‘Modern Fiction’. pp.. repr. 1969). p. pp. Special Collections. as Woolf reiterates. Rushton Fairclough. All references to Virgil are taken from: Virgil. p. 160. 1989). 22 ‘Notes on D. 82. p. 25 Unpublished notebook. 35 ‘How it Strikes a Contemporary’. London: William Heinemann. 157–165 (p. 121–122. 20 Gary B. p. edited by Jeanne Schulkind (Sussex: The University Press. 1990). edited by McNichol. 228. 168. 158). 62.21. which Woolf summarises with comments in an early notebook (discussed below). Collected Essays II. Fiction and the Future’. 114–119. p. 23 Ibid. University of Sussex Library. Compare her argument in ‘Poetry. It was the custom of the ancients to train vines between elms. 183. p. Monk’s House papers. 26 Essays IV. citing Steve Davies. 439). (Cambridge. 1984).

’ (July 30. Essays IV. Compare Georgics IV. 435. like herself. pp. 82). This obviously calls for comparison with the figure of Augustus Carmichael and with the discussion of the aesthetics of future fiction in ‘Poetry.. 401) ‘How it Strikes a Contemporary’. Essays III. Essays IV. pp. Susan Dick. p. pp. as others have remarked. Ezra Pound. 181–186. ‘The Tunnel’. In an essay of 1917 Woolf describes the Loeb library ‘as a gift of freedom’ to amateur readers of the classics. 11. The loss of the classical ideal of beauty is lamented too by Woolf’s fellow modernist Ezra Pound: ‘We see to kalon/Decreed in the Market place’. see[s] people in groups. Essays IV. p. 438. 12. Georgics I. again. 311–329. edited by Susan Dick (Toronto and Buffalo: University of Toronto Press. Compare Woolf’s later recollections of her mother. 236–237. ‘The Restless Searcher: A discussion of the Evolution of ‘Time Passes’ in To The Lighthouse’. ‘Hugh Selwyn Mauberley’. Appendix B. Virginia Woolf – To the Lighthouse. Essays IV. 401. pp. lines 559–566. 98–106. Fiction and the Future’. 114. 1925.. The other figure associated with Augustus Carmichael is Thomas de Quincey. pp. Letters III. Essays IV. p. Rushton Fairclough. yet our own in particular – had by virtue of being our mother. my emphasis). 1975).. pp. rats and toads is particularly suggestive of these passages. lines 151–159. filtered perhaps through the novel’s prior mediation: ‘I think I accepted her beauty as the natural quality that a mother – she seemed typical. ‘How It Strikes a Contemporary’. in Ezra Pound Selected Poems 1908–1959 (London: Faber and Faber. 262. p. The original holograph draft. Ibid. Essays IV. As Susan Dick points out there is no precise indication of the date of composition of this outline. 436. Compare the novel’s self-conscious opening scene of ‘cutting out pictures’ (7). Elsewhere she suggests a date around April 30.’ (A Sketch of the Past. The Georgics is described as ‘perhaps the most carefully finished production of Roman literature’ in Fairclough’s brief biographical introduction to his Loeb translation. pp. p. as outlines and they become at once memorable and full of beauty’. Virgil. one possible Virgilian modification in the 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 . which Woolf may have used as it was first published in 1916. p. universal. which she puts in an appendix. Woolf’s description of the degeneration of the house and garden (150) with its invasive thistle. p. Fiction and the Future’. she discusses de Quincey’s writing in terms. I. Essays IV. English Studies in Canada 5. Essays II. 403. ‘Life and the Novelist’. 400–406 (pp. of the relation between poetry and prose suggesting that De Quincey has opened up the possibilities of prose fiction by his powers of description as ‘a reflective writer’ who ‘draw[s] a little apart. 239. 367). p. x. 361–369 (p. in the essay ‘Impassioned Prose’ which Woolf worked on at the same time as To The Lighthouse.320 margaret tudeau-clayton at the back of her descriptions of the novel of the future since she writes in her journal: ‘I think I might do something in To the Lighthouse to split up emotions more completely. ‘Poetry. 1982).3 (1979). Future references to the MS will be to this edition. edited and translated by H. 1926. 397. ‘Life and the Novelist’.

15–17. p. discussed above. Essays in Criticism 36 (1986). 1998). ‘The Restless Searcher’. in Etudes proustiennes IV. when Sodome et Gomorrhe is published in 1922 the total has expanded to 10 volumes. 324–325). Stevenson and Goldman. pp. Comment Marcel Proust a composé son roman. Le Roman Psychologique. pp. pp. A. As in ‘Time Passes’ it is specifically ‘beauty’ that is the object of the ‘wastes of time’ (lines 9–10). Flint notes Woolf’s positive response to an essay by Clive Bell (dedicated to her) in which the ‘revolutionary coal-miner’ is described as a threat to civilisation (pp. 143–146. pp. As one of the journal’s readers pointed out. p. a word which would invite perception of likeness rather than of opposition. See Feuillerat. p. in an amusingly self-reflexive image: ‘Toads had nosed their way in’ (150) (cf. p. ‘“But what? Elegy?”’. 26–28. Cam recalls too the epic female figure of Camilla. 317–329 (p. Critics’ discussions of Mrs McNab (apart from those by Flint and Lee) have suffered from wishful thinking. In a letter to a friend in March . ‘Proust et la critique anglo-saxonne’. Kate Flint. Sonnet 12. for instances. p. This is scarcely an exaggeration as far as the educated elite is concerned. 145. p. p. and R. 536. ‘inventusque cavis bufo’ [Georgics I. as it does throughout King Lear. see Margaret Tudeau-Clayton. Mrs Ramsay is reading sonnet 98 in the final version of ‘The Window’ (see further below). 1982). See Lee. All references are taken from Shakespeare’s Sonnets. Gibson. 185–186. Shakespeare and early modern Virgil (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Essays IV. Delattre. see. Comment Marcel Proust a composé son roman (Geneva: Slatkine Reprints. Letters II. line 184]). Interestingly. Jonson. Le Roman Psychologique. 396. ‘Reading Proust’. 499 Letters II. as Woolf mentions in a letter to a friend in 1925 (Letters III. notably in the gloom of political correctness. 319–334. Appendix I A. Cahiers Marcel Proust N. ‘On Being Ill’. 320–323. 1997). Mares. Feuillerat. edited by Katherine Duncan-Jones (London: Thomas Nelson and Sons. Mrs McNab is described as ‘chanting’ in the MS.S. 318). the image of Time and his scythe recur in sonnets 100 and 123. pp. 1972 [first published in 1934]). See Delattre. The project notoriously expands so that in 1919 when volume 2 is published by NRF (Nouvelle Revue Française [Gallimard]) the complete work is announced as in 5 volumes. 333. Letters II. 166). Dick ‘The Restless Searcher’. recall too Woolf’s linking of Proust with Shakespeare (and specifically Lear) as well as with Jane Austen. as it is in sonnet 60 (‘nothing stands but for [Times’s] scythe to mow’). 319). ‘Virginia Woolf and the General Strike’. Susan Dick notes how the word ‘nothing’ resonates throughout the novel (Dick. p. 328. Essays IV.‘Time Passes’ 321 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 final version is the addition of the toads. 525. pp. For a brief discussion of the Virgilian generic sequence as the model for the Shakespearean. William Shakespeare. Virginia Woolf. 11 (Gallimard: Nouvelle Revue Française. p. p. especially. 11–49. 4.

repr. pp. pp. 565–566. 309). p. 109). for instance. pp. pp. passim. The Sacred Wood (1920). she next writes that Mrs Dalloway has ‘branched into a book’ (October 14. p. Letter to Céline Cotton. consciously or unconsciously. p. will be to this edition. 243–247 (p. Letters II. Proust. ‘Reading Proust: Woolf and the Painter’s Perspective’. 1923). 83–84). the essay cited in the previous note. Woolf may be thinking of this moment in To the Lighthouse when she illustrates the point that the French take their fiction seriously with ‘Flaubert will spend a month looking for a phrase to describe a cabbage’ (Essays IV. July 12. p. p. Marcel Proust. shaken together like those scraps of colour in a funnel that we played with as children. p. ‘Tradition and the Individual Talent’. p. Cf. Eliot.’ (Letters VI. p. but I cant remember where. p. p. 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 . 463). A l’ombre des jeunes filles. See Mares. A Room of One’s Own. 155. like many of her sentences in Mrs Dalloway. 244). (London: Methuen. she comments on the ‘strain upon the mind’ of Proust’s ‘obliquity’. A l’ombre des jeunes fille en fleurs. 166. 17. she comments ‘I dont think society is quite so omnipresent as P. Woolf. 1922. 1922). Something I mean about the soul. Essays IV. Mares. p. edited by Pierre-Louis Rey (Paris: Gallimard. Having ‘left off’ Mrs Dalloway on August 22.322 margaret tudeau-clayton 1937 Woolf attempts to account for her feelings: ‘I think Proust explains it. 56–102 (pp. in an essay of 1925 in which she describes the experience of reading a scene in Proust in terms of ‘tunnelling’ into the ‘cave of darkness’ of the protagonist’s emotions. 1925). more formally in ‘Phases of Fiction’ (1929). images which are echoed. 17. For not only does Woolf’s language echo Proust’s but her sentences have a Proustian sinuosity. 369. 297). given in the text. as she later recalls in the journal. it was the invention of Mrs Dalloway’s memories that renewed her desire to write the book (June 18. As early as 1923 Woolf singles out ‘the nine volumes of Proust’ as the preeminent example of fiction which ‘makes us more aware of ourselves as individuals’ (Essays III. 1988). passim. pp. 47–59. an exaggeration worthy of Mrs Ramsay who illustrates the abomination of English cooking with ‘[i]t is putting cabbages in water’ (p. Essays IV. ‘nine’ here is presumably a slip for ten). S. 522. 159–160. ‘“The Burning Ground of the Present”’. What is more she describes this invention in terms of a ‘tunnelling process’ into ‘caves’ behind her characters (October 15. Essays IV. p. how its elements are united differently by different stimulants. 1923. 1969). References. Letters III. Collected Essays II. August 30. This is not to say that she never makes critical comments. 112) The precise reference here has not been identified. in T. 1909. 59. in a letter to Ethel Smyth in 1934. Essays IV. The fresh impulse in October 1922 may indeed have come from the reading of Proust since. The effect figured in the image of borrowed skates is illustrated by the passage in praise of Proust in ‘Pictures’ (1925). 333. makes out’ (Letters V. as quoted by Rey. The essay first appeared in The Egoist in 1919. ten days after recording her beginning on Proust (quoted above.

180. A Room of One’s Own. p. ‘Le prix Femina’. p. 25. 390. See Sylvie Ducas. Woolf. p. 1–39. ‘Le prix Femina: la consécration littéraire au féminin’. ‘The Approach to Marcel Proust. 93. 85 Ducas. Recherches féministes 16:1 (2003). .’ p. Essays IV.‘Time Passes’ 81 82 83 84 323 Aldington.

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