All contraries confounded: the lyrical fiction of Virginia by Karen Kaivola

By Karen Kaivola

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Extra resources for All contraries confounded: the lyrical fiction of Virginia Woolf, Djuna Barnes, and Marguerite Duras

Example text

If at times the lyricality of their writing becomes as seductive and fascinating as the desired female object in traditional literature, they achieve more than aesthetic pleasure by insisting on a new model of representation that is not disengaged from the imperatives of material conditions. As an embodiment of an urge for liberation from social and symbolic conventions, lyrical writing provides a form capable of articulating structures oppressive to women (though lyricism doesn't necessarily do this and isn't necessary in order to do it), while it also expresses an impossible longing to escape these structures entirely.

Their narratives do not end with recuperation or resolution but remain open and unsettled. However, they suggest that certain breaches of the social contract, certain transgressions as seen and experienced from female perspectives, must remain disguised, hidden, and displaced. The reproduction of existing social structures in patriarchal cultures depends upon women's participation in their own subjectionwomen's participation is essential to the reproduction of conditions that create their own oppression and vulnerability.

There was foam and confusion. The imagination had dashed itself against something hard. The girl was roused from her dream. She was indeed in a state of the most acute and difficult distress. To speak without figure she had thought of something, something about the body, about the passions which it was unfitting for her as a woman to say. Men, her reason told her, would be shocked. The consciousness of what men will say of a woman who speaks the truth Page 23 about her passions had roused her from her artist's state of unconsciousness.

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