To the Lighthouse
Virginia Woolf brought a totally new approach to fiction in the second decade of the 20th century, her work having a common feature with the works of other two writers of the time, namely James Joyce and DH Lawrence. The thing that united the works of the three modernist writers was the common reaction against realist method asillustrated by Edwardians writers who tried to express through symbols, order, truth and justice.
Virginia Woolf and the other modernist writers become aware of the importance of conscious aesthetic attention, meaning that writers are now self-conscious about the nature of their endeavour. Art and the process of art is the subject of the 20th century fiction. Virginia Woolf’s attitude toexperience is aesthetic. The artists that struggle to order experience into a coherent vision become one of the concern of Virginia Woolf. Thus she tried to give coherence to the chaos of experience.
Virginia’s fiction was not a ‘criticism of life’, but a re-creation of the complexities of experience, seen as a flux that the novelist must communicate. The fiction must be adaptable to catch the ‘tones’,the light and shade of experience.
The task of the novelist was also to dematerialize what was material, to de-create form and to make the novel a self-creating species, at once decomposition, and composition. The key notions of Virginia Woolf’s fiction were flux, change, time as opposed to order and form. The unique quality of her art is given by her ability to balance these notions in sucha way that one enhances the other.
Plot, character, comedy, tragedy and the concentration on ‘love interests’, the old conventional themes, were all disposed of, and no longer considered adequate to communicate the stream of the modern consciousness.
Consciousness’ became a key word in modern fiction, the unconscious mind becomes as important as the conscious. Consciousness in not afixed or unchanging entity but rather a flux shaped by our daily experience and by our contact with the external reality and with the others. Thus the modernist writers are using revolutionary techniques such as the stream of consciousness and the interior monologue, employed by Virginia Woolf. To these techniques Virginia added her personal touch, a poetic and feminine one. Through these newtechniques, the novelist tries to capture a character’s flow of internal thoughts, being able to present simultaneously several points of view. The novelist can describe the thoughts and feelings of a character without using any dialogue. Using the indirect free style and the interior monologue Virginia Woolf also expresses her own vision of the world.
To the Lighthouse is widely considered oneof the most important works of the twentieth century. With this ambitious novel, Woolf established herself as one of the leading writers of modernism. As Sigmund Freud explored theories of consciousness and subconsciousness, Virgina Woolf wrote a novel that focuses not on the events of the external world but on the richness and complexity of mental interiority. It is to be noticed the Woolf'semphasis on consciousness and character's inner lives which illustrates the fact that it’s not important what actually happen more important being the consequences. In the novel the action occurs not in the outside world but in the thoughts and feelings of the characters as exhibited by the ongoing narrative. Although there is a narrative voice apart from any of the characters, a large portion of thenarrative consists of the exposition of each characters' consciousness. Some sections use entire pages without letting an objective voice interrupt the flow of thoughts of a single character. Virginia Woolf manages to create a narrative chain, linking the consciousness of various characters in an unbroken flow and emphasizing the connection between people that Mrs. Ramsay always tries to...