“Tradition” and “Mrs Brown”

T. S. Eliot and Virginia Woolf
  • Jane Goldman
Part of the Transitions book series (TRANSs)


This chapter moves to a comparative reading of Eliot’s essay on tradition and Woolf’s essay on 1910, modernity and change, “Mr Bennett and Mrs Brown”. It explores the emerging gender divide in these manifestos. This leads us to the gender-based arguments of Part II. The chapter begins, however, with a reading of Eliot’s scientific discourse, in “Tradition and the Individual Talent” and elsewhere, as understood and recorded by Woolf. Eliot’s allusions to Dante’s hell are explored, as is a range of his imagery in comparison with Woolf’s, in “Modern Novels”, the earlier version of Woolf’s “Modern Fiction”. His essay’s engagement with classical myth and allusions to the Trojan War lead to consideration of Joyce’s Ulysses and modernist narratives of hell. Eliot’s debt to Keats and his engagement with the poetics of Romanticism he reviles leads to comparison of his formalism with that of his Bloomsbury colleague, Clive Bell. “Tradition and the Individual Talent” is then considered in the significant context of the massive undertaking to publish Joyce’s Ulysses.


Individual Talent Male Tradition Classical Myth Modern Fiction Modernist Narrative 
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© Jane Goldman 2004

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  • Jane Goldman

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