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Look Inside Virginia Woolf and the Discourse of Science

Virginia Woolf and the Discourse of Science
The Aesthetics of Astronomy


  • Author: Holly Henry, California State University, San Bernardino
  • Date Published: September 2009
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521119870

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About the Authors
  • Holly Henry investigates how advances in astronomy in the early twentieth century had a shaping effect on Woolf's literature and aesthetics as well as on the work of modernist British writers including Vita Sackville-West, H. G. Wells, Olaf Stapledon, Bertrand Russell, and T. S. Eliot. The 1920s and 30s witnessed a pervasive public fascination with astronomy that extended from the US, where Edwin Hubble in 1923 definitively determined that entire galaxies existed beyond the Milky Way, to England, where London's intellectuals discussed Sir James Jeans's popular astronomy books and the newly explored expanses of space. In re-evaluating the cultural context out of which Modernism emerged, Henry contends that Woolf, through her own fascination with astronomy, formulated a global vision that helped shape her fiction and her pacifist politics. Henry's study includes examinations of scientific and literary archival material and sheds light on Woolf's texts and recent re-evaluations of Modernism.

    • Combines research of, until its first publication in 2003, unpublished literary and scientific papers and correspondence with literary readings of Woolf's texts
    • Offers a lively investigation of the public response to the increasingly important field of astronomy in the 1920s
    • Well illustrated
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    Reviews & endorsements

    Review of the hardback: '… provides important new cultural and popular contexts in which to read Woolf'. Yearbook of English Studies

    Review of the paperback: 'This enthralling and well-researched book sets Virginia Woolf and her work in the context of popular imaginings of astronomy, relativity, politics and social justice during the first third of the twentieth century. A particular strength of Holly Henry's work is her thoroughgoing archival research into James Jeans's papers and papers concerned with Edwin Hubble.' Virginia Woolf Bulletin

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    Product details

    • Date Published: September 2009
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521119870
    • length: 224 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 13 mm
    • weight: 0.34kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    List of illustrations
    List of abbreviations
    Introduction: formulating a global aesthetic
    1. Stars and nebulae in popular culture
    2. From Edwin Hubble's telescope to Virginia Woolf's 'searchlight'
    3. 'Solid objects in a solid universe': the globe and Woolf's deployment of multiple perspectives
    4. 'Talk about the riddle of the universe': traversing the discourses of science and art in The Waves
    5. From galactic expanses to earth: Woolf and Stapledon envision new worlds
    6. Woolf's global vision: Three Guineas and the politics of science

  • Author

    Holly Henry, California State University, San Bernardino

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