Many texts written during the Modernist movement have been known to evoke intense emotions in their reader by imposing ambivalent questions about topics, which play primary roles in human life, such as the interpretation of reality and the purpose of life on earth. Virginia Woolf was a Modernist writer who was encouraged to live a privileged life with her liberated parents, which fuelled her to write one of her most famous and free-spirited works. Djuna Barnes was an ex-patriot bisexual living in bohemian Paris, and she addresses problems characters experience with gender, sexuality and identity. Both writers are interested in the mind, and characters’ thoughts and private lives, with much emphasis on psychoanalysis.
In To The Lighthouse, Woolf depicts a mirrored world of the pre and post-war England in which she lived, which was constantly reflecting upon modernity, and one way in which she shows this is by illustrating psychologically curious characters. To The Lighth...
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...and the culture of Paris. Matthew calls the night an ‘unknown land’, implying that the city of Paris comes alive with café gossip and illicit, Bohemian behaviour that has yet to be explored. Nora feels exiled because she has a lesbian affair, even though homosexual relationships were not illegal in Paris. Whereas Woolf expresses the night as being a time where human life ceases, in Nightwood a darker, more mysterious side to life is revealed. To the Lighthouse has a more traditional view of the night being a time when everything looks eerie and surreal, and Nightwood is more radical in its treatment of nocturnal individuals in Paris.
Djuna Barnes, Nightwood, (London: Faber and Faber 2007), 106
Janet Winston, Woolf’s To the Lighthouse, (London: Continuum 2009), 21
Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse, (United States: Numitor Comun Publishing, 2011) 57
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