The tortuous evolution of Woolf’s first novel, from 1907 to 1914, is told in detail in De Salvo’s Virginia Woolf’s First Voyage. What emerges is an unsatisfactory record of an emotional journey of emancipation, a ‘curious amalgam of two stages of the novel’s earlier phases … feverishly but imperfectly fused’.2 Looking back in 1920, Woolf admitted as much: ‘Such a harlequinade as it is — such an assortment of patches — here simple and severe — here frivolous and shallow — here like God’s Truth — here strong and free-flowing as I could wish. What to make of it, Heaven knows.’3 Woolfs use of the word ‘harlequinade’ is instructive, suggesting as it does both the fantastical nature of the boat journey to South America, and the ‘particoloured’ effect of the style of writing, changeable in the way she describes. The question of form became uppermost in her own mind, and it is interesting to see how a mind reared on nineteenth-century notions of form struggled to adapt itself to the Bloomsbury world of Post-Impressionist exhibitions and quite a new conception of form in art.


Flower Shop Painterly Vision Significant Form National Gallery Opening Scene 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© David Dowling 1985

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  • David Dowling

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