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Character and the Art of Memory: Interpreting Virginia Woolf's "A Sketch of the Past"

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Thesis type
(Thesis) M.A.
Date created
The thesis examines Virginia Woolf's memoir, "A Sketch of the Past," in relation to her statement that in 1910, human character changed. A Freudian theoretical framework, Woolf's essays on character, and her novel, To the Lighthouse, are used to interpret and analyze the first thirty pages of the memoir, which cover the period from Woolf's first memories to the death of her mother, when Woolf was thirteen. The main character in this part is Woolf's mother, and the thesis argues for the centrality of Woolf's mother in shaping Woolf's later belief that character is the most important aspect of a work of fiction. The difficulty Woolf had in describing her mother is shown to relate to the challenge that her generation of writers faced in creating character, representing memory and existence, and capturing truth, either in a memoir or in a finished work of art, such as a novel.
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Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
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