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Virginia Woolf in the River: The Intersection of Relativity and Modern Buddhism in Mrs. Dalloway

Author:

Sawyer James Henry

Central Washington University, US
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Abstract

The modernist period ushered forth numerous scientific and philosophical theories that had a notable influence on art, literature, psychology, and philosophy. Discoveries such as Einstein’s general theory of relativity inspired theologians, philosophers, and psychologists to focalize new concepts of self, identity, time, reality, and human experience. These shifts in contemporary human understanding developed in concurrence with increased global travel and intellectual exchange between Western and Eastern countries. As a result, writers, philosophers, and artists became more interested in Buddhism and other Eastern philosophical beliefs. Virginia Woolf, while being a self-proclaimed atheist, was deeply influenced by Eastern philosophy and well versed in contemporary scientific theories. Drawing on literary and biographical criticism of Virginia Woolf, I trace the intersections of Eastern philosophical beliefs and Western scientific theories through the stream of consciousness narration of Mrs. Dalloway by analyzing both what and how things are experienced by individual characters. In the novel, the integration of each character's stream of consciousness fabricates a dissonant medium in which singular moments in the present time are experienced through the minds of multiple characters, while they simultaneously navigate past spans of time within their individual narrative consciousness. Through the analysis of narrative form and narrative consciousness in Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, it is possible to track the impact of Eastern philosophies and Western scientific theories in the novel’s exploration of external and internal perceptions of reality.
How to Cite: Henry, S.J., 2020. Virginia Woolf in the River: The Intersection of Relativity and Modern Buddhism in Mrs. Dalloway. International Journal of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities, 12(1), pp.1–9. DOI: http://doi.org/10.7710/2168-0620.0311
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Published on 30 Sep 2020.
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