- Theodore Koulouris
- Synthesis: an Anglophone Journal of Comparative Literary Studies
- Read PDF Hellenism and Loss in the Work of Virginia Woolf
- Reward Yourself
Abstract Taking up Virginia Woolf's fascination with Greek literature and culture, this book explores her engagement with the nineteenth-century phenomenon of British Hellenism and her transformation of that multifaceted socio-cultural and political reality into a particular textual aesthetic, which Theodore Koulouris defines as 'Greekness.
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Farnham: Ashgate. Koulouris, Theodore. Farnham : Ashgate, Ashgate, Farnham.
Synthesis: an Anglophone Journal of Comparative Literary Studies
But the great obstacle to asking questions openly in public is, of course, wealth. The little twisted sign that comes at the end of the question has a way of making the rich writhe; power and prestige come down upon it with all their weight. Woolf , 30— The play reveals the arbitrariness of gender ideology and shows up the male-constituted demos as destructive precisely because women are excluded from it: they are confined to the oikos , the private sphere of family and pleasure, which, in an ironic coup, women will play up against men in order to restore public peace.
Woolf appears to acknowledge this implicitly when she continues:.
Read PDF Hellenism and Loss in the Work of Virginia Woolf
The call for dialogue recognizes the fundamental exteriority of being and, as in Levinas , 60—90 , it sets justice , a symmetry of encounter, before knowledge. For Woolf, the production of any necessarily non-definitive knowledge of one's culture, of English in her case, seems to be premised on a comparative basis, which questions in turn the standard presumption of an essentialist and ahistorical value and truth of what is to be known, of the object of cognition as well as its subject.
On the one hand, Woolf demonstrates how the knowledge of the past is dependent on our present viewpoint. It thus refutes the classic historicist claim epitomised in the Rankean conviction that we can relive previous historical epochs as they really were.
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Compare the following passage:. For it is in vain and foolish to talk of knowing Greek, since in our ignorance we should be at the bottom of any class of schoolboys, since we do not know how the words sounded, or where precisely we ought to laugh, or how the actors acted, and between this foreign people and ourselves there is not only difference of race and tongue but a tremendous breach of tradition. In this sense, reading Greek becomes a way of knowing not Greek itself, but English. Her awareness of the intrinsic relationality of identity, of the formativeness of encountering the other is not only subversive of essentialist presumptions about both the self and the other but also, and more importantly, it marks the beginning of language, the predisposition of entering into dialogue with the other.
Woolf , However, Greek is always defined in relation to the circumstance of its perception at the moment of our encounter with it. Are we reading Greek as it was written when we say this? Compare, for example, the fullness of presence with which Woolf invests Greek in the closing lines of the essay:. Entirely aware of their own standing in the shadow,. Woolf , — Hence the combined elegiac and satirical tone of the novel, noted by many critics. And, as is evident below, place is literally presented once again as a determination not just of our reading of Greek but also, and more significantly, of our desire to read it in the first place:.
A strange thing——when you come to think of it——this love of Greek,. Jacob knew no more Greek than served him to stumble through a play. Of ancient history he knew nothing. Driven to travel by his desire to affirm what he holds valuable and thinks he knows, his thoughts take a different turn. No doubt we should be, on the whole, much worse off than we are without our astonishing gift for illusion.
But it is the governesses who start the Greek myth. The point is, however, that we have been brought up by an illusion.
Jacob, no doubt, thought something in this fashion, the Daily Mail crumpled in his hand;. The first behaved as though he were obliged, under the impact of an unequivocal observation, to believe in something the reality of which had hitherto seemed doubtful.
The second person, on the other hand, was justifiably astonished, because he had been unaware that the real existence of Athens, the Acropolis and the landscape around it had ever been objects of doubt. What he had been expecting was rather some expression of delight or admiration. Proving to be better than the father, the son can appropriate his power and become an heir to his position. In this light, both instances of displacement , of Jacob and of Freud, concern a disillusionment with Greek that can be read as a result of their own illusions and fantasies that have nothing to do with either the history which they ignore or the actual modern reality of Greece which they disavow or reject.
- Manual Hellenism and Loss in the Work of Virginia Woolf.
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- Focusing on Virginia Woolf and her circle, past and present.