"The little twist of sound could have the whole of her:" silence, repetition, and musicality in Virginia Woolf's "Between the Acts" and Gertrude Stein's "The Mother of Us All"

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Brickey, Alyson
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This thesis tracks an alternative trajectory for thinking about the way in which modernist texts incorporate silence as an aesthetic and a theme, one that departs from those currently favoured by contemporary modernist criticism. Particularly, I wish to move away from the prevailing approach to Virginia Woolf's texts that borders on biographical criticism, an approach that theorizes silence as indicative of the author's trauma, pointing to that which is 'unsayable' as evidence of some psychically unassimilable event. Instead, I argue that by experimenting with an aesthetics of silence, repetition, and musicality, Woolf is participating in a wider cultural debate. With Between the Acts, I believe she seeks to incorporate sound to such a degree that the novel becomes a listenable art piece, requiring a reconceptualization of reading as not only a visual act, but an aural one as well.
literature, modernism