Virginia Woolf's Between the Acts and the Repetition of History
Adams, Danielle Cristiana
In this thesis, I analyze the meaning of Virginia Woolf's last novel, Between the Acts, as I see it representing the culmination of her emerging theory of the repetition of history. Tracing the beginnings of this theory to her 1927 novel, To the Lighthouse, I link the emergence of this theory to the experience of World War as it relates to its final articulation after the repetition of war in 1939. Building upon Sanja Bahun's analysis of the philosophical connections between Walter Benjamin and Virginia Woolf's theories of history, I link the emergence of these tandem theories, but I do not seek, as Bahun does, to argue for their mutual influence. Rather, I show how these theories independently emerge due to the experience of war, and I trace its earliest echo to Woolf's work in her 1927 novel, To the Lighthouse, her 1927 essay, "The Narrow Bridge of Art", and her 1929 short story "The Moment: Summer's Night": a link which has not been made in Woolf scholarship to this day. By doing so, I define To the Lighthouse and Between the Acts in a new critical light that connects the two works as forming the beginning and culmination of Woolf's understanding of this concept--thus, connecting two works that are often read in opposing light and complicating their generic classification.