Literary Cubism: Exploring the Modernist Movement Through Virginia Woolf

She was born into a wealthy family, surrounded by books; she was intellectual.
Her maiden name was Stephen, and she became ‘Wolf’ after she married Leonard Wolf. She had childhood traumas that led to depression (death of her mother when she was 13).
She moved with her sister to Bloomsbury, where there was an avant-garde group of modernists. She worked as a novelist, essayist, critic, and activist; she fought for women’s lives.
World War I increased her depression and anxiety, and she decided to kill herself. She wrote a suicide note and drowned in water with some stones in her pockets.

A MODERN AUTHOR: She’s one of the main authors of the 20th century. She moved from traditional literature to narrative experimentation. She is known as a modernist writer because she changed the concept of literature to give voice to the inner part of the character …

LITERATURE TECHNIQUE: Stream of Consciousness: Human personality is described in the novel like a shift/flux of emotions and impressions of the characters.
Free Association of Ideas: (e.g., I see the nightstand and think of my lamp)
No Narrator: The point of view changes, the plot is revealed by the thoughts of the characters, it isn’t revealed by the narrator.
Time Changes: It moves back and forth (it’s not chronological; past, present, and future are all connected with flashbacks)

Moments of being are when we live a moment with all our consciousness, where we realize that something that was hidden is now clear. For her, during the party while she was serving soup to the guests, she realizes that she doesn’t really love her husband.
The moments of non-being are not rare, when we are not aware of what is happening around us; this can be wanted or unwanted because sometimes situations can be hurtful. We forget those moments as if we didn’t live them.
DIFFERENCE FROM EPIPHANY: Moments come from insightful thoughts, during daily life, the character can see under the surface and become aware of something hidden.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WOOLF’S AND JOYCE’S STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS: Woolf is more precise with grammar, even in the flow of thoughts she keeps control of good grammar and punctuation. Joyce doesn’t put any control over the character’s thoughts; he lets the flow go.
She wrote a lot about women because she was a feminist. Androgyny (Orlando), the relationship between two women—she was a feminist, she wrote a lot about women.
She wrote an essay about women’s rights, she talked about how women didn’t have physical space to work, write, and be themselves.

It’s a novel; the main character is the rich woman, a hostess, Clarissa Dalloway, who lives in London. The novel is set in one day in June when she decides to give an evening party; in the novel, we can read all her thoughts from the morning to the evening. Septimus is an important character, he was a shell-shocked veteran, married to an Italian woman, Lucrezia la Crescia. (She went to buy flowers…).
The climax is the party; she invites all the relevant people that she gathered during the day.
Plot Twist: During the party, she received the news that Septimus committed suicide.
The setting is in London, five years after World War I, technology was progressing. The Big Ben strikes at different times in the novel, the clock has a specific meaning and function, reminding the reader of the flowing of time, it differentiates reality from inner life.
Tunneling Technique: Digs into the character’s past, creating tunnels; through this technique, the characters connect in the end at a specific moment.
Clarissa and Septimus never met each other, but they were connected at some point through their past.

She’s 51, a middle-aged woman, the wife of a conservative parliamentary husband. She had a possessive father, she has some regret refusing the love of Peter Walsh. She wants to achieve freedom and independence, but she’s part of a conservative class.
All this has weakened her emotions and led her to a form of depression. On one side, she had a role of high social class, but on the other side, she wanted to be independent. She repressed her feelings, she stays with her husband even though she doesn’t love him anymore.
 Septimus is very sensitive, he is a lover of poetry, after he returned from World War I he started suffering from panic attacks, hallucinations, and shell shock; this big trauma comes from an extreme sense of guilt because his best friend died in the war.
Both Clarissa and Septimus depend on their partners for protection, and they both suffer from depression and physical paralysis. But Septimus will commit suicide, and Clarissa won’t.

Cubism is the principal movement in the 20th century led by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque.
Painters use new forms of expression focusing on subjective mental experience over objective sensible experience, fragmentation, and multiple perspectives over a singular perspective.

Cubism became one of abstract art’s most important movements; it started with an insulting name. Louis Vauxcelles derided the new style as just “little cubes,” believing that the works are inferior to traditional paintings with more realistic perspectives.
Another French critic, Guillaume Apollinaire, came up with the term cubism; he used Vauxcelles’s term positively.
Pablo Picasso was inspired by Georges Seurat, the idea of multiple perspectives based on geometric shapes. LES DEMOISELLES D’AVIGNON represents a group of variously-dressed women, considered the first cubism painting. Picasso wasn’t the only innovator of this style. He worked with Georges Braque, and the two artists developed this new mode. ORIGIN
It originated in France, as seen by Picasso’s work, but it expanded worldwide. Some of them weren’t of French origins, they were residing and exhibiting in France at that time, (Picasso was Spanish) CUBISM IN WRITING This movement influenced modernist novelists and poets in the same period (e.g., Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, Gertrude Stein, and William Faulkner) to use cubism elements in their writing to extend the limits of literary portraiture. 

Coming off in the social sciences, the theories of Sigmund Freud, cubists were more interested in the internal landscape of the individual than the external landscape of the objective world.
-conscious intellect and creative abstraction
All became more important in modernist literature than the more objective, one-dimensional portraiture of the Victorian period that preceded it. 

James Joyce plumbed the internal depths of his protagonist, Stephen Dedalus, discovering a vivid and varied inner life that would come to characterize his later life.

Cubism, defined by Gombrich, is:
“the most radical attempt to stamp out ambiguity and to enforce one reading of the picture – that of a man-made construction, a colored canvas.”
One single reading doesn’t refer to a single perspective but to an understanding of all possible perspectives. In the case of painting, this means a multi-perspective view.

Picasso paintings contain various planes and angles of perception. Modernist writers use this technique to show how narrative realities change through the subjective perspectives of different characters.

WILLIAM FAULKNER A master of this technique, in his novel “As I Lay Dying,” the death and burial of rural matriarch Addie Bundren is portrayed through the connected perspectives of more than a dozen characters. Each character has his own voice, tone, and vocabulary and passes on the events of the narrative in a distinct way. Like Picasso, Faulkner created a stark collage of images revealing the subjectivity and relativity at the heart of humans.
LITERARY CUBISM in the case of writing, it means shifting the literary perspective, that is, the point of view. It involves:
-writing about events and people, repeating through the eyes of another
-using different narrators for different characters or different paragraphs
STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS: Cubist exploration of the mind led many writers to do the same through words and sentence structure. Modernist writers tried to portray thought as it happened, randomly and illogically. This method became known as the “stream of consciousness.” One of the great pioneers of this method was Virginia Woolf.

 In “Mrs. Dalloway,” Woolf captured the streaming thoughts of multiple characters. Woolf traces the random and erratic thoughts of Septimus, a war-scarred visionary on the verge of complete “Men must not cut down trees. There is a God. (He noted such revelations on the backs of envelopes.) Change the world. No one kills from hatred. Make it known (he wrote it down).”
Cubist techniques presented something rather frightening: the individual as an assemblage of broken images. With the same techniques, modernist writers explored the implications of movements like cubism.

ovements like cubism.