International Journal of Humanities and Social Science

ISSN 2220-8488 (Print), 2221-0989 (Online) 10.30845/ijhss

Reading Virginia Woolf through Søren Kierkegaard’s Concept of Irony
Yi-Chuang E. Lin

In this paper, I take Virginia Woolf’s preoccupation with the formation of subject as a premise, and draw on Søren Kierkegaard’s exposition of irony, especially its subjective factors, to make possible a new understanding of Woolf’s insight into “Subject and Object and the nature of reality.” Although aiming at an outer, objective truth, Woolf continuously probes deeper into the personal, the subjective consciousness, seeking that essential pattern which she believes is hidden behind the cotton wool of everyday life. Woolf is always suspicious of the adequacy of words, and yet must work with them. In her attempt to diminish the treacherous nature of logos, Woolf can be seen as an absolute ironist who, not wanting to be caught by the fallacy of logos and human reasoning, entertains all possibilities, excluding none. Woolf is always seeking a deeper knowledge of the self by means of dialectic questioning. She places a high value on the subjective and yet is well aware of the deception of the senses and illusory present. Her narrative attempts to present what is unrepresentable in words -- being as it is -- achieves what Kierkegaard calls irony.

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