The Open Book pp 203-208 | Cite as


Fish in a Stream or Spider in a Web?
  • Margaret M. Jensen


In this passage from the conclusion of Woolf’s 1919 essay “Modern Novels,” she writes of the ultimate futility of comparing one fiction with another. Although here she is specifically discussing the “immeasurable” distance she envisions between the fiction writing of Russia and that of England, her statement feels pertinent to me on a more general, and indeed personal, level as well. As Woolf warns of the uselessness of contrasting different fictions, my entire enterprise in the preceding pages is called into question. Woolf’s caution here suggests that it would be “pretence” to insist that any “deductions” that I draw from such comparisons are, in any real sense, definitive. As Woolf makes clear, such a claim would represent an opportunity missed: in her view the very nature of literary endeavor demands that there is “no bound to the horizon, and nothing forbidden but falsity and pretence.”


Assure Posit Ghost Nial Metaphor 


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© Margaret M. Jensen 2002

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  • Margaret M. Jensen

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