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Years, The

Night and Day, The Pargiters, Three Guineas, The Years, Antigone, To the Lighthouse

novel family woolf english

a novel by V. Woolf, published in 1938. Woolf's longest and most arduously written novel, it appears to be a return to the more traditional narrative methods of Night and Day (1919). It is, however, a complex attempt, made with great difficulty, to analyse the political life of the English middle classes in the early twentieth century, without allowing the politics to dominate. It grew out of a ‘novel-essay’ called The Pargiters, which intercut the story of the family with a commentary on the conditions for women in English society. Woolf became dissatisfied with this formal experiment, finding that it made the politics too intrusive. In 1933 she decided to compress the ‘interchapters’ inside the novel. (The factual material she left out went into the feminist essay Three Guineas). As a result of this process The Years had, she thought, a ‘certain flatness in the dialogue’, and still too much material, which she cut down. The family story is told through fragmentary scenes moving between a large number of characters, with recurring references (as to Sophocles' Antigone) to suggest her arguments. It makes a darker, more embittered version of the Ramsays' family history in To the Lighthouse. Each section is headed by a date, starting in 1880, then 1891, 1907, 1908, 1910, 1911, 1913, 1914, 1917, and jumping to a long scene in ‘Present Day’, 1936. It begins with the Victorian family, dominated by Colonel Pargiter—who has a secret, squalid ‘love nest’ and bullies his children—on the day of the mother's death. It follows the next two generations (Delia, Martin, Rose, North, Peggy) but especially the lives of the unmarried daughter Eleanor, who keeps house for her father, and of the daughters of the Pargiters' cousin Kitty, Maggic and the eccentric Sarah. There is deliberately no central character, but in the novel's disturbing analogies between Victorian patriarchy and a ‘present day’ dominated by male egotism, megaphonic propaganda, class division, and fascism, it is Sarah and Eleanor who have the central utopian visions of another possible existence, more fluid, impersonal, and free.

Jack B. Yeats (Jack Butler Yeats) Biography - (1871–1957), (Jack Butler Yeats), The Aran Islands, Wicklow, West Kerry and Connemara [next]

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