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Virginia Woolf's Novels and the Literary Past

Jane de Gay

Hardback (In stock)

The first book to explore Virginia Woolf's preoccupation with the literary past and its profound impact on the content and structure of her novels.

It analyses Woolf's reading and writing practices via her essays, diaries and reading notebooks and presents chronological studies of eight of her novels, exploring how Woolf's intensive reading surfaced in her fiction. The book sheds light on Woolf's varied and intricate use of literary allusions; examines ways in which Woolf revisited and revised plots and tropes from earlier fiction; and looks at how she used parody as a means both of critical comment and homage.

Key Features:

  • The first book-length study of intertextuality in Virginia Woolf's novels;
  • Offers a challenging and provocative new perspective on Woolf's art as a novelist;
  • Develops detailed close readings offering fresh insights into individual works;
  • Presents complex ideas in a lucid and accessible fashion.


Chapter 1. From Woman Reader to Woman Writer: The Voyage Out
Chapter 2. Tradition and Exploration in Night and Day
Chapter 3. Literature and Survival: Jacob's Room and Mrs Dalloway
Chapter 4. To the Lighthouse and the Ghost of Leslie Stephen
Chapter 5. Rewriting Literary History in Orlando
Chapter 6. 'Lives Together': Literary and Spiritual Autobiographies
in The Waves
Chapter 7. Bringing the Literary Past to Life in Between the Acts
Select Bibliography.

About the Author

Jane de Gay is a Reader in English Literature at Leeds Trinity University. She is the author of Virginia Woolf’s Novels and the Literary Past (Edinburgh University Press 2006); and the co-editor of Voyages Out, Voyages Home: Proceedings of the Eleventh Annual Virginia Woolf Conference, ed. Jane de Gay and Marion Dell (Clemson University Digital Press, 2010), Languages of Theatre Shaped by Women ed. Jane de Gay and Lizbeth Goodman (Intellect, 2003), The Routledge Reader in Politics and Performance, ed. Lizbeth Goodman and Jane de Gay (Routledge, 2000) and The Routledge Reader in Gender and Performance, ed. Lizbeth Goodman with Jane de Gay (Routledge, 1998).


A number of interesting and powerful themes emerge in this study of Virginia Woolf's relation to the literary past… The strong account of Woolf's relation to tradition in Virginia Woolf's Novels and the Literary Past will surely facilitate further study of the gender politics of Modernism.
An important intervention at a time in which there is particular interest in Woolf’s relationship to the past.
- Professor Laura Marcus, University of Sussex
Essential and intellectually provocative reading for Woolf scholars and for common readers alike.
- Vara Neverow, President of the International Virginia Woolf Society