"A sea that had no shores" : the fiction of Violet Trefusis in relation to V. Sackville-West and V. Woolf

Zamorano Rueda, Ana Isabel

Literature; Mass media; Performing arts
September 1997

Thesis or dissertation

© 1997 Ana Isabel Zamorano Rueda. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

This thesis shows how the notion of androgyny works in the fiction of Violet Trefusis. It also posits her writing in connection to some novels by Vita Sackville-West and Virginia Woolf. Working within a theoretical framework provided by Julia Kristeva's psychoanalytical theory this thesis focusses on and seeks to redress the traditional conceptualization of androgyny providing a notion of the androgyne more in accordance to Woolf's androgynous ideal. The androgyne is understood in this thesis as a carnivalesque figure that disrupts the patriarchal system of hierarchical binary oppositions.

Chapter Two provides a historical framework to Woolf's androgynous ideal. The research focuses, in Chapter Three, on the literary relationship sustained by Sackville-West, Woolf, and Trefusis which produced an, up to now unexplored, intertextual space where Challenge (1919), Orlando (1928) and Broderie Anglaise (1935) are interwoven.

The apprehension of androgyny is an attempt on the part of these three women writers to find a different type of sentence whose construction has been theorised by Kristeva as Poetic language. This literary practice is an uncomfortable and dangerous one since it implies the avowal of the maternal serniotic in symbolic language. The difficulties in achieving the symbolic positionality of the subject of poetic language are addressed in Chapter Four in the analysis of Trefusis's Echo (1931) and Woolf's Between the Acts (1941). Chapter Five concentrates on Trefusis's discomforting sense of outsiderness. In Pirates at Play (1952) Trefusis explores the dialectics of foreignerness. Through the transubstantiation of her self into an armchair in Memoirs of an Armchair (1960) Trefusis acknowledges her abject in an attempt to relax the boundaries that separate self from other. Finally Chapter Six examines the search of a feminine Jowssance and its connections to death, or rather undeath, in two novels: Sackville-West's All Passion Spent (1931) and Trefusis's Hunt the Slipper (1937).

Department of English, The University of Hull
Shaw, Marion
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