By Murdoch, Iris; Murdoch, Jean Iris; Woolf, Virginia; Woolf, Adeline Virginia Stephen; Lazenby, Donna J.; Woolf, Virginia; Murdoch, Iris
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Additional resources for A Mystical Philosophy: Transcendence and Immanence in the Works of Virginia Woolf and Iris Murdoch
Re-reading mysticism: Jantzen -vs- James Despite Goldman’s criticisms of Marcus’ argument, aspects of the latter’s attempts to identify the mystical in Woolf ’s work are sensitive and convincing, and overall offer a degree of attention more appropriate to the number of occasions on which Woolf calls her moods ‘mystical’. In particular, her interpretation of the mystical content of The Waves as capturing the diminishment of the ego ‘by the writer as minister of the interior,’49 and as presenting, in the ‘lady at a table writing,’ the figure of Caroline Stephen,50 does more justice to Woolf ’s own description of her novel as a ‘mystical eye-less book’ than does Goldman’s dismissive reading of the ‘semi mystic’ novel.
Indd 33 11/22/2013 3:26:47 PM 34 a mystical philosophy contributing to her rational aesthetic depiction of reality. ” ’131 Woolf ’s rejection of Russell’s relegation of art to the mystical, by which the latter identifies the ‘merely’ emotional, subjective, naïve, unity-imposing reactions of the individual to her experience, inspires the constructive response of her formalist aesthetic. Her literary art will approximate to truth; will give, as she writes in Night and Day (1919), ‘access to another world independent of personal affairs, a world of law, of philosophy, or more strangely a world such as he had had a glimpse of .
37 This argument feels strained: Goldman cannot evacuate The Waves of an intended mystical content which, while Woolf is cautious of the ‘affectation’ of ‘being too mystical, too abstract,’38 goes beyond the mythological and allegorical. What constitutes this ‘going beyond’ is the subject of this study. Goldman’s attempt to reduce the sense of ‘mystical’ content in Woolf ’s novels (especially in To The Lighthouse and The Waves where she is keen to unveil a rational light), also sits uneasily with Woolf ’s comments about mystical impulses which inspire her work.