Holding hands with Virginia Woolf: a map of Orlando's functional subversion

UNCW Author/Contributor (non-UNCW co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Aimee Wilson (Creator)
The University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW )
Web Site: http://library.uncw.edu/
Katherine Montwieler

Abstract: As hard as we might try, Virginia Woolf’s Orlando: A Biography proves difficult to peg: is the eponymous character a man or a woman? Is she thirty or three hundred years old? And in terms of style, is the work a biography, a love letter, or a novel? Is it possible to determine where its fiction stops and its non-fiction starts? Furthermore, it is even desirable to draw this kind of distinct border around the text? Instead of trying to find yet another way to categorize Orlando and Orlando, this essay uses reader-response theory to examine Woolf’s writing style as one that walks a middle ground between polarizing and assuring, and the confusing tension wrought therein that makes Orlando a functionally radical text. For as discomfiting as the reading of Orlando might be, the work was Woolf’s biggest commercial success to date: some 8,000 copies of the book sold within the first six months. This thesis offers a map of how the text creates a location wherein challenges to the urge to draw boundaries is acceptable – even enticing – rather than off-putting. Woolf’s use of strategically-placed, sophisticated rhetorical techniques help readers scale the text’s sex and gender nomadism as they move toward a space of acceptance and knowability.

Additional Information

A Thesis Submitted to the University of North Carolina Wilmington in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts
Language: English
Date: 2009
Woolf Virginia 1882-1941 Orlando: a biography--Criticism and interpretation
Woolf, Virginia, 1882-1941. Orlando: a biography -- Criticism and interpretation

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