Date of Award

2015

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Department

English

First Advisor

Beverly Matiko

Abstract

This paper examines narrative, biography, and selfhood in Virginia Woolf's The Waves (1931). The novel, a "play-poem," follows six friends' monologues from childhood to death. I analyze aspiring writer Bernard from his childhood of telling stories about companions to his inability to narrate his autobiography, arguing that he fails because he has no self to narrate. Referencing Jacques Derrida's Of Grammatology's (1974) theory of the deconstructed self identifiable only in conversation, I argue that Bernard destroys his identity by silencing his friends and becoming the sole speaker; Woolf's biographical theory thereby establishes the communal self, prefiguring tenets of postmodern philosophy.

Subject Area

Self in literature.

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