1st Edition

Virginia Woolf’s Afterlives The Author as Character in Contemporary Fiction and Drama

By Monica Latham Copyright 2021
    262 Pages
    by Routledge

    262 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book explores Virginia Woolf’s afterlives in contemporary biographical novels and drama. It offers an extensive analysis of a wide array of literary productions in which Virginia Woolf appears as a fictional character or a dramatis persona. It examines how Woolf’s physical and psychological features, as well as the values she stood for, are magnified, reinforced or distorted to serve the authors’ specific agendas. Beyond general theoretical issues about this flourishing genre, this study raises specific questions about the literary and cultural relevance of Woolf’s fictional representations. These contemporary narratives inform us about Woolf’s iconicity, but they also mirror our current literary, cultural and political concerns. Based on a close examination of twenty-five works published between 1972 and 2019, the book surveys various portraits of Woolf as a feminist, pacifist, troubled genius, gifted innovative writer, treacherous, competitive sister and tragic, suicidal character, or, on the contrary, as a caricatural comic spirit, inspirational figure and perspicacious amateur sleuth. By resurrecting Virginia Woolf in contemporary biofiction, whether to enhance or debunk stereotypes about the historical figure, the authors studied here contribute to her continuous reinvention. Their diverse fictional portraits constitute a way to reinforce Woolf’s literary status, re-evaluate her work, rejuvenate critical interpretations and augment her cultural capital in the twenty-first century

    Introduction: ‘I Have Been Dead and Yet Am Now Alive Again’: Catching the Phantom

    Biography, fiction and biofiction: from ‘bastard’ to ‘hybrid’

    Visions and designs

    Postmodernist truthful (mis)representations

    From truthful fictions to travesties of truth

    Goals and perspectives


    Chapter I: Bioplay(giarism)s

    The ‘little cut-and-paste job’

    ‘The play’s the thing’

    Virginia’s feminist companions

    The last song of the nightingale

    Virginia and Vita: a year in love


    Chapter II: Detecting Woolf

    In the shadow of WWI: Virginia as a feminist sleuth

    Who killed Virginia Woolf? The Cambridge Five!


    Chapter III: Virginia’s Daughters

    Virginia’s long shadow

    Virginia’s biological progeny


    Chapter IV: Vanessa and Virginia

    A tale of two sisters

    Vanessa and her sister: ‘twinned always’

    Vanessa and Virginia: ‘psychically Siamese’

    Vanessa and Virginia: a biofictional spin-off


    Chapter V: Polarity, Pairs, Peers and Parallelisms

    Riding the ‘Dark Mare’ at ‘sixty’s gate’

    Adeline and Virginia

    Mandril and the marmoset


    Chapter VI: Biofictive Mirrors: Clarissa Woolf / Virginia Dalloway

    A cameo appearance

    Mrs Woolf, Mrs Dalloway and Mrs Brown: death, birth and survival


    Chapter VII: Bloomsberries Reimagined

    Lytton and Virginia

    Variable geometries: squares, circles and triangles

    Bloomsbury legacies


    Conclusion: Posthumous Lives: ‘I Am Made and Remade Continually’

    Biographical Woolfs and fictional Virginias

    A summing up of Woolf’s afterlives

    Biofiction as critical interpretation

    Virginia Woolf legend: keeping the myth alive


    Monica Latham is a Professor of British literature at the English Department of the Université de Lorraine in Nancy, France, and a specialist of Virginia Woolf and genetic criticism. She obtained a PhD in 2003 from Université de Nancy, France. Her thesis analysed the genesis of Woolf’s first novel, The Voyage Out, and was entitled ‘De Melymbrosia (1908) à The Voyage Out (1915): l’invention allotropique du projet woolfien d’écriture’. Since then, Latham has published over sixty articles on modernist and postmodernist authors in many international journals and academic publications. She is the author of A Poetics of Postmodernism and Neomodernism: Rewriting Mrs Dalloway (2015). She is the co-editor of the series ‘Book Practices and Textual Itineraries’, ‘Biofiction Studies’ and ‘Virginia Woolf’s Reading Notebooks’.