1st Edition

Virginia Woolf’s Good Housekeeping Essays





ISBN 9781138321113
Published July 4, 2018 by Routledge
188 Pages

USD $160.00

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Book Description

In the mid-twentieth century, Virginia Woolf published ‘Six Articles on London Life’ in Good Housekeeping magazine, a popular magazine where fashion, cookery and house decoration is largely featured. This first book-length study of what Woolf calls ‘little articles’ proposes to reassess the commissioned essays and read them in a chronological sequence in their original context as well as in the larger context of Woolf’s work. Drawing primarily on literary theory, intermedial studies, periodical studies and philosophy, this volume argues the essays which provided an original guided tour of London are creative and innovative works, combining several art forms while developing a photographic method. Further investigation examines the construct of Woolf’s essays as intermedial and as partaking both of theory and praxis; intermediality is closely connected here with her defense of a democratic ideal, itself grounded in a dialogue with her forebears. Far from being second-rate, the Good Housekeeping essays bring together aesthetic and political concerns and come out as playing a pivotal role: they redefine the essay as intermedial, signal Woolf’s turn to a more openly committed form of writing, and fit perfectly within Woolf’s essayistic and fictional oeuvre which they in turn illuminate.

Table of Contents



Contents





 



Introduction



Woolf’s essays and their critical appraisal.



Woolf’s essays in Good Housekeeping magazine. Composition, publication, reception



The purpose of the book





Part I: The Good Housekeeping Essays as Intermedial essays





Chapter One



The humble art of description in the ‘Six Articles on London life’



Introduction



The documentary impulse



Practicing the art of description in ‘The Docks of London’ and ‘Oxford Street Tide’



Renewing the art of description in Good Housekeeping magazine



Developing the ‘critical attitude’



Conclusion





Chapter Two



The Art of photography in the Good Housekeeping essays



‘The Docks of London’ as an apparatus for the other essays



The photographic method in ‘Great Men’s Houses’



The photographic method in ‘Abbeys and Cathedrals’





Chapter Three



The art of architecture in the Good Housekeeping essays



Redefining architecture as democracy in ‘This is the House of Commons’ and ‘Portrait of a Londoner’



Intermediality and Woolf’s ethics of doubt



Constructing the essay as an intermedial form





Part II: ‘The Common Pool’





Chapter Four





Woolf’s ghosts in the Good Housekeeping essays



Woolf’s plea for democracy: a dialogue with her forebears



The intermedial dialogue with John Ruskin



‘Adaptive reuse’ and the political debates of the 1930s





Chapter Five



Virginia Woolf and Heritage



Woolf’s survival theory



Poverty as usus: the ‘common pool’



An ethical posture?



Poverty as an economic and aesthetic concept



Woolf and Benjamin





Part III Reassessing the Good Housekeeping essays





Chapter 6



The Good Housekeeping essays as cultural and creative essays



The Good Housekeeping essays as part and parcel of Woolf’s essays



The theoretical thrust of Woolf’s essays



Woolf’s ‘humble’ theory





Chapter Seven



The Good Housekeeping essays at the crossroads



The photographic turn



Implementing the theory of usus



Constructing history as trace



The political turn





Conclusion



The Good Housekeeping essays and The Arcades Project



Straddling the divide between high and low culture

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Author(s)

Biography

Christine Reynier is Professor of English Literature at the University Paul-Valéry Montpellier3, France. She is the author of Virginia Woolf's Ethics of the Short Story (Palgrave 2009) and a number of articles on modernist writers (Ford Madox Ford, Rebecca West, Virginia Woolf, etc.). She is co-editor (with M. Duyck and M. Basseler) of Reframing the Modernist Short Story (Journal of the Short Story in English, 2015) and (with B. Coste and C. Delyfer) of Reconnecting Aestheticism and Modernism (Routledge, 2017).