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Chapter 9. Dismantling narrative modes

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Abstract

This study examines Virginia Woolf ’s authorial revisions of the opening of MrsDalloway and their implications for narrative theory. I compare passages fromthe short story ‘Mrs Dalloway in Bond Street’ and the early drafts of ‘The Hours’with the published novel and show that there is a consistent pattern of revisionwhich complicates the representation of character consciousness. This complexitylies in the dismantling of narrative modes used for the representation ofconsciousness, most typically by conflating them into the syntactic boundariesof a single sentence. From a stylistic standpoint, the dissolution of the syntacticboundaries between narrative modes challenges most standard accounts ofspeech and thought presentation which posit narrative modes as discrete syntacticunits. From a narratological standpoint, this syntactic and semantic dismantlingof narrative modes reflects an attempt at representing distinct facets ofconsciousness as simultaneous phenomena of experience. Thus, Woolf ’s revisedtext captures the simultaneity of, for instance, a character’s less conscious perceptionof the narrative world and the more consciously executed reflective thought,or of a character’s internal state and direct speech, grafting them into the text asnarrative modes that are syntactically and semantically interdependent.

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