'The waves' as feminist poetic play

Wright, E.H (2016) 'The waves' as feminist poetic play. In: International Virginia Woolf Conference, 16 - 19 June 2016, Leeds Trinity University, Leeds, UK.

Official URL: http://www.leedstrinity.ac.uk/events/humanities/th...


In the intellectual milieu of Bloomsbury the poetic play represented the zenith of artistic achievement. Saxon Sydney-Turner, Lytton Strachey, Clive and Julian Bell, Thoby and Adrian Stephen, and Leonard Woolf all read, admired and imitated their dramatic predecessors. Members of Woolf’s wider circle of friends and acquaintances including Yeats, Eliot, Auden, Isherwood, Spender and MacNeice were also drawn to the idea of poetic drama, although their agenda, rather than imitation and appreciation, was to remold the form to suit the needs of the twentieth century. Woolf read and saw a number of these plays, though she made no secret of her antipathy for many of them. In ‘Poetry, Fiction and the Future’ Woolf described this type of drama as ‘the one form which seems dead beyond all possibility of resurrection today’ because ‘the writer [of the modern poetic play] is not at his ease. He is afraid, he is forced, he is self-conscious’ and asks in a 1929 letter: ‘How could they go on with poetic plays after Shakespeare?’ Woolf was clearly pessimistic about the future of a form that had already been perfected by generations of male writers and had already been molded before women were educated and liberated enough to attempt its use. She goes on to suggest in A Room of One’s Own that prose might be the female medium rather than male-dominated rule-ridden verse drama. In this paper I suggest that The Waves was a specifically female alternative to this ‘exclusively masculine’ tradition and stands as a feminist challenge to the poetic plays of her male peers.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Divisions: School of Writing, Publishing and the Humanities
Date Deposited: 26 Jul 2016 08:54
Last Modified: 15 Aug 2021 09:42
URI / Page ID: https://researchspace.bathspa.ac.uk/id/eprint/7926
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