Virginia Woolf was interested in giving voice to the complex inner world of feeling and memory and conceived the human personality as a continuous shift of impressions and emotions. So the events that traditionally made up a story were no longer important for her; what mattered was the impression they made on the characters who experienced them. In her novels the omniscient narrator disappeared and the point of view shifted inside the characters mind through flashbacks, associations of ideas, momentary impressions presented as continuous flux.
Her contribution to Modernism is made clear by a statement contained in her hessay Modern Fiction (1919):
Examine for a moment an ordinary mind on an ordinary day. The mind receives a myriad of impressions – trivial, fantastic, evanescent, or engraved with the sharpness of steel. From all sides they come, an incessant shower of innumerable atoms; and as they fall, as they shape themselves into the life of Monday or Tuesday, the accent falls differently from of old; the moment of importance came not here but there; so that, if a writer were a free man and not a slave, if he could write what he chose,, not what he must, if he could base his work upon his own feeling and not upon convention, there would be no plot, no comedy, no tragedy, no love interest or catastrophe in the accepted style, and perhaps not a single button sewn on as the Bond Street tailors would have it. Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-trasparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning to the end”.
As for Joyce, also Virginia Woolf subjective reality come to be identifiedwith the technique called stream of consciousness”. However differently from Joyces characters who show their thoughts directly through interior monologue, sometimes in an incoherent and syntactically unorthodox way, Woolf never lets her characters thoughts flow without control, and maintains logical and grammatical organisation. Her technique is based on the fusion of streams of thoughts into a third person, past tense narrative. Thus she gives the impression of simultaneous connections between the inner and the outer world, the past and the present, speech and silence.
Similar to Joyces epiphanies are Woolfs moments of being, rare moments of insight during the characters daily life when they can see reality behind appearances.
While Joyce was more interested in language experimentation and worked through the accumulation of details, Woolf use of words was almost poetic, allusive and emotional. Fluidity is the quality of the language which flows following the most intricate thoughts and stretches to express the most intimate feelings.
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