Criticism of Woolf is often polarised into viewing her work as either fundamentally progressive or reactionary. In this 2007 book, Steve Ellis argues that her commitment to anxiety about modernity coexists with a nostalgia and respect for aspects of Victorian culture threatened by radical social change. Ellis tracks Woolf's response to the Victorian era through her fiction and other writings, arguing that Woolf can be seen as more 'Post-Victorian' than 'modernist'. He explains how Woolf's emphasis on continuity and reconciliation related to twentieth-century debates about Victorian values, and he analyses her response to the First World War as the major threat to that continuity. This detailed and original investigation of the range of Woolf's writing attends to questions of cultural and political history and fictional structure, imagery and diction. It proposes a fresh reading of Woolf's thinking about the relationships between the past, present and future.
• Challenges the idea of Woolf as a 'modernist', arguing she is 'Post-Victorian' • Untangles the complex ideas of progress and reaction in Woolf's writings • Traces textual evidence of Woolf's thinking about history, past and present
Introduction; 1. Reclamation: Night and Day; 2. Synchronicity: Mrs Dalloway; 3. Integration: To the Lighthouse; 4. Disillusion: The Years; 5. Incoherence: the final works; Conclusion.
'There is … a fascinating and thought-provoking examination, recurring throughout the book, of light and shadow in her work.' Virginia Woolf Bulletin
'… refreshingly unassuming, accessible style, Virginia Woolf and the Victorians is really a grand sweep of a book, a comprehensive and evolutionary look at the ambivalent response to the Victorian period contained in Woolf's fiction, essays, letters and diaries. … Ellis convincingly argues for a new and more balanced evaluation of the Woolfian retrospect as 'a complex relationship of difference and debt'.' Archiv für das Studium der neueren Sprachen und Literaturen
'… Virginia Woolf and the Victorians contains much of genuine interest to neo-Victorian researchers, as well as scholars of Woolf and Modernism.' Marie-Luise Kohlk, Swansea University
'The conclusion of this study, which is both well referenced and carefully considered, is that Virginia Woolf's 'deep sense of the unchanging' overshadows her commitment to the modern.' Contemporary Review
'… an extremely well thought out, provoking and highly scholarly study …' Cuadernos de Literatura Inglesa y Norteamericana
'… helpful, suggestive, and important study … a keystone text in Virginia Woolf's lifelong fascination with her Victorian inheritance.' Woolf Studies Annual