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Mark A. Wollaeger - The Woolfs in the Jungle: Intertextuality, Sexuality, and the Emergence of Female Modernism in The Voyage Out, The Village in the Jungle, and Heart of Darkness - MLQ: Modern Language Quarterly 64:1 MLQ: Modern Language Quarterly 64.1 (2003) 33-69

The Woolfs in the Jungle:
Intertextuality, Sexuality, and the Emergence of Female Modernism in The Voyage Out, The Village in the Jungle, and Heart of Darkness

Mark A. Wollaeger


In A Room of One's Own (1929) Virginia Woolf advises women writers to "think back" through their mothers, but the tortuous composition of The Voyage Out (1915) reveals that, to begin her own career, Woolf first had to think past her husband to get to Joseph Conrad. 1 The Voyage Outassumed its final form only after Woolf had returned from her honeymoon to read Leonard Woolf's first novel, The Village in the Jungle (1913), in manuscript. Both The Village in the Jungleand The Voyage Out are indebted to Conrad, particularly to Heart of Darkness (1899-1900), and this common debt magnified the influence of Leonard's book on Woolf's. While many have written about the influence of Heart of Darkness on The Voyage Out, Conrad's importance to Woolf has not been understood in the context of her marriage to Leonard, a colonial administrator who renounced his outpost of progress in Ceylon to set up house in London with her while finishing The Village in the Jungle. 2 [End Page 33] Far from a love triangle, however, the web of relations linking Leonard, Woolf, and Conrad also implicates one of Woolf's literary mothers, for to distance herself from the Edwardian writers she would criticize in "Modern Novels" (1919), Woolf also had to disentangle herself from Jane Austen, whom she singles out in A Room of One's Ownas one of the few women writers strong enough (unlike George Eliot or Charlotte Brontë) to laugh at the predominant masculinity of English prose (80). Thus if Woolf did not quite contravene A Room of One's Ownby going to "the great men writers for help" (79), the incipient female modernism of The Voyage Outwas catalyzed by her productive engagement with two male writers (one great, one not), who helped define her difference from Austen.

In her journal in 1906, two years before beginning the story that ultimately became The Voyage Out, Woolf tried to capture "the domesticities" of the "soft grass paths" of Norfolk by reaching for a simile: "It is so soft, so melancholy, so wild, & yet so willing to be gentle: like some noble untamed woman conscious that she has no beauty to vaunt, that nobody very much wants her." 3 The image of the untamed woman goes to the heart of the emotional turbulence that was stirred up by Woolf's decision in 1912 to marry Leonard, and its relevance to my argument is threefold: it is precisely the paired notions of domesticity and the [End Page 34] taming of women that are at issue in Woolf's response to The Village in the Jungle, a novel about the domestication of women in the wilds of Ceylon; the untamed woman also suggests the myth of the Amazon warrior, which undoubtedly lies behind Woolf's decision to send her heroine, Rachel Vinrace, to South America, where she travels up a great river; and, finally, the image leads back to Conrad, whose "savage and superb" African woman on the banks of the mighty river in Heart of Darkness informs Woolf's representation of native women upriver in The Voyage Out. 4

Leonard and Virginia Woolf worked closely together in 1912 as they were becoming engaged and finishing their novels. Leonard notes in his autobiography that in January and February 1913, two months after she read the version of The Village in the Junglethat he sent to the publisher Edward Arnold, Virginia was "writing every day with a kind of tortured intensity." 5 Nevertheless, several critics reject the idea that The Village in the Jungleinfluenced The Voyage Out; others simply ignore the possibility; no one has explored it. 6 Louise A. DeSalvo's edition of [End Page 35] Melymbrosia, a reconstructed version of the novel as it existed prior to the Woolfs' engagement in late May 1912, reveals that many scenes, including the crucial scenes upriver in which Virginia describes hervillage in the jungle, were radically revised after her honeymoon. 7 Yet even DeSalvo, who maps the relationship between the revision process and the progress of the Woolfs' engagement, never mentions The Village in the Jungleduring her discussion of the many intertexts that haunt The Voyage Out. 8

By proposing that Virginia Woolf's debt to Conrad offers insight into her response to Leonard's novel as she was rewriting her own, I [End Page 36] do not mean to imply that she was indebted to Leonard on anything like the same scale or to lend credence to attacks made on him as an insidiously controlling husband by imputing a baleful influence to his novel. Rather, Woolf's engagement and marriage deepened her ambivalence toward powerful male authorities, making her highly sensitive to writers such as Conrad, Edward Gibbon, and, new though he was to the profession, Leonard. The story of Rachel Vinrace's attempt to voyage out into the world is clearly a surrogate for Woolf's efforts to establish herself as a novelist, and Leonard's parallel efforts could not but affect her own story of a young woman who becomes engaged to an aspiring novelist, Terence Hewet. Given Leonard and Virginia's anxieties about the prospect of marrying, it is not surprising that both of their novels feature young women who resist male sexual predators and often seem uncomfortable with heteronormative sexuality. As a Jew, Leonard was highly conscious of his status as an outsider courting across what was understood as a racial divide, and Woolf's sexual trauma at the hands of Gerald Duckworth had given her good reason to doubt that she would ever feel sexually compatible with a man. But my interest lies less in structural affinities deriving from biography than in textual traces of Woolf's response to Leonard's novel that throw into relief the intersection of biography and literary history.

Literary history alone would not assign much weight to Leonard's novel. Had Virginia not read The Village in the Jungle while revising The Voyage Out, the novel would be of interest mainly to postcolonial critics and students of colonial Ceylon. 9 But for Virginia, The Village in the Junglewas powerful because she found in it a disturbing version of the marriage plot that bore directly on the problems of autonomy she was exploring through Rachel Vinrace and living out in her relationship with Leonard. How does a young woman establish her own authority in a public sphere dominated by powerful male voices? How can she [End Page 37] remain "untamed"? These questions bear in turn on the relationship between the composition of The Voyage Out and the partially thwarted emergence of female modernism from within a novelistic tradition that Woolf associated with Austen. Conrad, I argue, served as a counterpoise to Austen, and Leonard's novel evoked Conrad even as it recast in luridly erotic terms the most retrograde qualities of Austen's marriage plots. The discursive pressures exerted by Heart of Darknessand The Village in the Jungle on The Voyage Outshow that Woolf's responses to Conrad and Leonard brought her to the verge of a modernism from which she retreated in her second novel, Night and Day (1919), before recovering the modernist impulses that would shape the remainder of her career.

Rewriting the Pattern of Everyday Life:
Rachel As Artist

The twin influences of Conrad and Leonard are best gauged by understanding Rachel as Woolf's surrogate, for Rachel's ambivalence toward inherited forms of order mirrors Woolf's struggle with literary tradition. Although Rachel despises "the imposition of ponderous stupidity, the weight of the entire world," and feels that "her own body was the source of all the life in the world, which tried to burst forth here—there—and was repressed," she is also desperate to know how the world works. 10 Having led a sheltered life with her aunts in Richmond, Rachel is eager to take in everything the worldly Dalloways (who make their first appearance here) can tell her when she meets them on board ship en route to South America. Veritable encyclopedias of conventional attitudes, they whet her appetite for knowledge and leave her hungrier than ever for new experiences. She is therefore easily hooked by Mr. Flushing's misleading promise to take her on a river expedition to a village where "none but natives had ever trod," a place of which "scarcely anything was known" (224).

But Rachel's desire for knowledge and experience becomes increasingly problematic as the novel unfolds, for the more she voyages out into the world, the more she feels circumscribed by what the novel [End Page 38] repeatedly terms the "pattern" of everyday life, not least because the pattern turns out to be as firmly entrenched in the native village as it is back home. While most characters find the predictable rhythms of social life consoling and enabling, Rachel is deeply ambivalent. At one moment she suspects that "things formed themselves into a pattern not only for her but for [others], and in that pattern lay satisfaction and meaning" (297); the next moment the rituals of everyday life seem to her unbearable. When Rachel finally dies after a protracted illness that disrupts the English colony in the hotel, Terence's friend Hirst feels his sense of relief turn into a "feeling of profound happiness" and, in the last pages of the novel, is "content to sit silently watching the pattern build itself up" (352). Although Hirst considers himself an iconoclast, his feelings reflect the community's secret satisfaction in reestablishing the normal way of the world after Rachel's death.

Before falling ill, Rachel is able to subvert the pattern of everyday life only once, when she plays the piano at the engagement dance held for Susan Warrington. Although fleeting, the moment is crucial, for it reveals the potentially transformative power of her imagination. The next day the disruptive energies of Rachel's inventive performance are reawakened, only to be bound again when she settles down to read Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, lent her by Hirst to "educate" her. The tension between these two moments is fundamental to the dynamic of self-assertion and assimilation that characterizes Rachel's relation to the world and Woolf's relation to her predecessors at this point in her career: Austen, whose fiction lies behind the engagement dance and the picnic that precedes it, and Conrad, whose "moments of vision" are linked to the disruption and ultimate dissolution of the marriage plots perfected by Austen. 11

Even before her performance at the dance, Rachel makes a habit of sequestering herself in her room to play the piano and thus threatens to subvert the social value of the cultured young woman by removing herself from the market in which her musical ability counts as an [End Page 39] asset. 12 Woolf amplifies the subversive force of Rachel's music during the engagement party by restaging her tactical retreat as a public performance. When the band packs up for the night before the dancers are ready to quit, Rachel sits down at the piano, but she exhausts her dance repertoire after a few tunes. She then begins to play a random medley of "old English hunting songs, carols, and hymn tunes" at a fast tempo while commanding the nonplussed dancers to "invent the steps" (152). Releasing Dionysian energies from the Apollonian confines of the social, Rachel's rescripting of traditional English tunes—it is a species of quodlibet, or musical collage—transforms a dance that began as if lifted from Austen into a raucous approximation of modern eurythmics. Hirst hops with "incredible swiftness" from one leg to another; Terence swims through the room, imitating "the voluptuous dreamy dance of an Indian maiden"; Mr. Pepper executes "an ingenious pointed step derived from figure-skating . . . while Mrs. Thornbury trie[s] to recall an old country dance." The "romp" culminates spontaneously in a "great round dance" that swings faster and faster until "one link of the chain—Mrs. Thornbury—[gives] way," sending the rest "flying across the room in all directions" (152). If the usual engagement party can be considered a centripetal affair, in which society pulls together to celebrate the prospect of its own reproduction, Rachel accents the countervailing force of the centrifugal, a pulling apart that contests Susan's ecstatic vision of a world in which there will be no more marriages because everyone is already hitched: "Marriage, marriage, that was the right thing, the only thing, the solution required by every one she knew" (164). Rachel, in contrast, has announced to Clarissa Dalloway that she will never marry.

The presiding spirit of the dance is Austen, but an Austen pushed beyond herself. When Rachel's performance unwinds the "tight plait" of social constriction she associates with Clarissa's favorite novel, Austen's Persuasion (49), Rachel momentarily becomes a surrogate for the experimental novelist Woolf herself later became. Throughout the first half of The Voyage Out Woolf's satiric tone, particularly her mocking presentation [End Page 40] of the Dalloways, echoes Austen's comedy of manners. The picnic during which Susan becomes engaged is indebted to the famous Box Hill outing in Emma, a novel whose eponymous heroine claims that she will never marry. Unlike Rachel, who never stops struggling with Terence, however, Emma ultimately subordinates her wayward imagination to the greater maturity of Mr. Knightley. In a 1913 review Woolf leavens her praise of Austen as one of the three greatest English novelists by suggesting that "she has too little of the rebel in her constitution." Far from bridling at the imposition of ponderous stupidities, Austen "seems at times to have accepted her life too calmly as she found it," despite all that was "smug, commonplace, and . . . artificial." 13 Yet Woolf sensed the potential for more in Austen. In an essay written after she had broken new fictional ground with the experimental techniques of Jacob's Room (1922) and as she was writing Mrs. Dalloway (1925), Woolf suggests that in Persuasion, her last novel, Austen began to introduce a new range of emotion and feeling into her fiction owing to her intuition that "the world is larger, more mysterious, and more romantic than she had supposed." In The Voyage Out Woolf already seems to acknowledge this capacity in Austen through Rachel, who owes something not only to Emma but to the piano-playing heroine of Persuasion, Anne Elliot. Looking back at Persuasion from the vantage of her own increasingly bold career, Woolf asks, "Was [Austen] not beginning . . . to contemplate a little voyage of discovery?" 14

Rachel's performance at the dance thus disrupts Austen from within and dramatizes the capacity for emotional release and growth that Woolf sensed in Persuasion. Had Austen continued to write, according to Woolf, her novels would have become "deeper and more suggestive," and she would have been "the forerunner of Henry James and of Proust"—in other words, of narrative modernism ("Jane Austen," 145). Against this background Rachel can be seen as the locus of modernist sensibility in a novel suspended between Austenian (what Woolf probably would have called "Edwardian") and modernist modes. Gazing [End Page 41] from an armchair out the window and thinking about her life as "only a light passing over the surface and vanishing" (Voyage Out, 114), Rachel anticipates Woolf's famous evocations of the ephemerality of existence in "Modern Fiction," 15 and as she plays the piano, Rachel remains in the moment, breaking up and reassembling older social and aesthetic forms in a virtuoso performance of her independence. If Rachel's sensibility were permitted to structure the entire novel, an aesthetic of interruption might make The Voyage Outlook more like Woolf's last novel, Between the Acts (1941), in which social and narrative fragmentations are barely contained by the shared spectacle of a local pageant; 16 or perhaps, foreshadowing Woolf's stream-of-consciousness techniques in Mrs. Dallowayand To the Lighthouse (1927), the disorienting interpenetration of memory and imagination in Rachel's delirium would permeate the story. But Rachel's release from tradition is only momentary. Thereafter Woolf allows Terence to assert himself at Rachel's expense by, for example, criticizing her music as a distraction from the more important labor of his novel writing and comparing her playing to the spectacle of "an unfortunate old dog going round on its hind legs in the rain" (Voyage Out, 276).

It would make for a neat critical narrative if Woolf had emerged as a distinctively post-Austenian novelist after killing off Rachel, who begins to die as soon as she is drawn into a marriage plot. But in fact Woolf's sacrifice of Rachel did not immediately reopen the space of experimentation that Rachel enjoyed at the dance. Much to Woolf's annoyance, Katherine Mansfield offered her a backhanded compliment by describing Night and Day, with reasonable accuracy, as "Miss Austen up-to-date." Mansfield's image of the book "sailing into port serene and resolute . . . [lacking] any sign that she has made a perilous voyage" invokes The Voyage Out (although perhaps not intentionally) as [End Page 42] the bearer of modernist impulses disavowed in the new novel: "We had thought that this world was vanished for ever, that it was impossible to find on the great ocean of literature a ship that was unaware of what has been happening. Yet here is Night and Day, fresh, new, and exquisite, a novel in the tradition of the English novel. In the midst of our admiration it makes us feel old and chill." 17 Another reviewer made the same comparison with Austen, mocking Woolf for her preoccupation with social banalities and deriding her overly deliberate characters as snails. After rehashing these responses in painful detail in her diary, Woolf finally asserts, "I had rather write in my own way of 'four Passionate Snails' than be, as [Mansfield] maintains, Jane Austen over again." 18 Woolf soon began to write novels more attuned to "what has been happening," but in The Voyage Out she advances and retreats at the same time. She lends Rachel the power to transform conventions but ends up subordinating the disruptive force of Rachel's music to the power of the word, ultimately by shifting her own future as a novelist to Terence, but first by dramatizing the weight of literary and imperial history in Rachel's reading of Gibbon.

Through Gibbon, Rachel enters into a form of male discourse that is, paradoxically, both inhibiting and liberating, and it is through Gibbon as well that Conrad will enter as an alternative to Austen's marriage plots. Hirst insists that Rachel read The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, and the morning after her piano performance he sends her the first volume. Later that morning, still warm in the afterglow of the dance, Rachel wanders through an oddly charged landscape with Balzac in one hand and Gibbon in the other. She turns to Gibbon first:

Never had any words been so vivid and so beautiful—Arabia Felix—Aethiopia. But those were not more noble than the others, hardy barbarians, forests, and morasses. They seemed to drive roads back to the very beginning of the world, on either side of which the populations of all times and countries stood in avenues, and by passing down them all knowledge would be hers, and the book of the world turned back to [End Page 43] the very first page. Such was her excitement at the possibilities of knowledge now opening before her that she ceased to read. (160)

Caught up in a sensual experience of empowerment, Rachel imagines herself as the central figure in a display of royal authority. The image of being flanked by "the populations of all times and countries" draws on contemporary conventions of royal spectacle, such as those observed at the coronation of Edward VII in 1904. Yet this power is as threatening to her as it is uplifting, for the erotic charge of Rachel's exaltation (captured in Woolf's description of the books lying in the grass, "a tall stem bending over and tickling the smooth brown cover of Gibbon, while the mottled blue Balzac lay naked in the sun") soon produces an urgent need to stride away from the books "faster and faster, her body trying to outrun her mind" (160, 161). Beyond expressing her conflicted attraction to the young men suddenly in her life, Rachel's response crystallizes the difficulty of locating herself in relation to the history they urge her to read. Later, in A Room of One's Own, Woolf cites Gibbon as one of the chief architects of the "male sentence" that women writers must learn not to write (79). By entering into Gibbon's history, Rachel risks losing her distinctively female perspective by becoming implicated in a masculine form of knowledge that she finds seductive yet abhorrent. But in recoiling from Gibbon, she cannot simply embrace Austen, whom Woolf cites in the same passage from A Room of One's Ownfor her ability to devise an alternative to the masculine sentence, because Austen is just as limiting, if in a different way. Rachel ultimately runs away from Gibbon, but not before luxuriating in the experience of becoming master of all she surveys. 19

The tension between release and constraint in these scenes corresponds to the discursive pressures exerted by other writers on Woolf's novel and illuminates her conflicted relationship to inherited forms of order. This tension increased during her prolonged revisions of The Voyage Out. Indeed, the writing and rewriting of the book almost ended [End Page 44] Woolf's career before it began. Woolf may have rewritten The Voyage Out as many as twelve times and at one point was developing at least two versions at the same time. Whenever she rewrote the scene of Rachel's fatal delirium, she was in danger of lapsing into madness, and in September 1913, some months after she had finally finished the manuscript, she became delusional and attempted suicide, delaying its publication by several years. Then, just as the book was released in February 1915, Woolf again became so deranged that she was confined for most of the year and did not see Leonard for eight weeks.

DeSalvo has demonstrated that during the tumultuous process of composition and revision Woolf in effect censored herself by censoring Rachel, who becomes less and less forthright and outspokenly feminist, and by recasting moments that revealed too much of her own inner life (First Voyage, 102-4). 20 But it is a fundamental irony that in moderating Rachel's voice Woolf began to find her own. On the verge of modernizing Austen by breaking the marriage plot's hold on the young artist, The Voyage Out becomes instead a compromise formation in which the interpellative power of male discourse symbolized by Gibbon overshadows Rachel's idiosyncratic intelligence; at the same time, however, the influence of Conrad as mediated by Leonard helps break up the established novel form that Woolf inherited from Austen.

Conrad between Leonard and Virginia

Any exploration of intertextual relations between The Voyage Out and The Village in the Jungle must take into account their common debt to Conrad. Woolf held Conrad in the highest regard, paying her respects to "the spell of Conrad's prose," his "moments of vision," "the astonishing solidity" of his fictional world, and the "lasting importance" that made him a "giant" among living writers. 21 Woolf felt that Heart of Darkness in particular revealed "the most complete and perfect expression [End Page 45] of one side of his genius—the side that developed first and was most directly connected with his experience. It has an extraordinary freshness and romance" (Essays, 2:159). It had, in other words, precisely what Woolf thought was lacking in Austen, the romantic qualities she appreciated in the gothic fiction of Ann Radcliffe. Conrad's novella, to which Woolf returned in the opening and closing pages of Between the Acts, haunted her first novel from its inception, providing, among other things, a model for the journey upriver that effectively initiates and ends Rachel's marriage plot. Leonard was indebted to Conrad, too. 22 The Village in the Jungle echoes Conrad's florid descriptions of the evil lurking in the jungle to such a degree in its rather forced opening pages that Leonard's indictment "runs counter to the real nature of the jungle" as the characters know it. 23 Not long after finishing The Village in the Jungle, Leonard gave a public lecture in which he displayed wide-ranging familiarity with Conrad's work as well as a tendency to identify with him as an adventurer turned writer. 24 In particular, Leonard praised Youth (1902), the volume in which Heart of Darkness appeared, as exemplary of Conrad's ability to blend realism and romance.

This triangular literary-historical relationship is complicated further by the likelihood that Woolf experienced Leonard as a double for Conrad, who was very much in the news at the time. Back in London after serving as a colonial administrator in Ceylon, Leonard was the writer-adventurer returning to the metropole after having been, like Conrad, "directly connected" with the exotic periphery. In letters to friends Woolf was inclined to exaggerate her fiancé's doings in Ceylon [End Page 46] by embellishing them with heroic incidents out of Conradian romance. "He spent 7 years in Ceylon, governing natives, inventing ploughs, shooting tigers," she wrote to Madge Vaughan; "He has ruled India," she added to Lady Robert Cecil. This letter then links Leonard's colonial administration to his writing by immediately turning to The Village in the Jungle: "He has a written a novel; so have I: we both hope to publish them in the autumn" (Letters, 1:628, 629).

Woolf's hope for her own book went unfulfilled; the first time Virginia Stephen's new name was attached to a published novel, it was appended to her husband's in a dedication to "V.W." Hermione Lee speculates that Woolf felt threatened by the comparative ease with which Leonard finished The Village in the Jungle, published two years before The Voyage Out. 25 There can be no doubt that she envied his achievement: "Its [sic] no use," Woolf remarked to Lady Cecil, "for me to say that I'm glad you liked Leonard's book, as you know too well the profound and secret vices of Authors" (Letters, 2:18). 26 The same vice shows through occasionally in Woolf's lavish praise of Conrad. After calling him one of two living giants—the other was Thomas Hardy—Woolf compares critics to naturalists who "put their specimens into ant heaps to be eaten clean of unnecessary flesh" and opines that the "innumerable critics" armed with "pick and shovel" have managed to "clear away a few encumbrances," but "Mr Hardy and Mr Conrad are the only two of our novelists who are indisputably large enough to engage the services of a whole anthill" (Essays, 2:158). Stopping short of outright hostility, Woolf's mordant wit nevertheless reveals a competitive need to assert herself in response to accomplished male colleagues. 27

If Woolf did associate Leonard, the "penniless Jew" who seemed so "foreign" to her (Letters, 1:500, 496), with Conrad, the Pole (imperfectly) turned Englishman, this association may explain why Conrad [End Page 47] became an increasingly insistent presence in the massive revisions she undertook after her marriage: as Leonard loomed in her mind, so did Conrad. 28 What is certain, at all events, is that during the transition from Melymbrosiato The Voyage OutWoolf added some allusions to Conrad and elaborated others. 29 Most telling is her revision of the passage in which Rachel thrills to Gibbon's prose, for here a new allusion shows how a particularly charged image from Heart of Darknessbecame a nodal point for Woolf's troubled yet productive relation to masculine power in The Voyage Out. In one of several evocations of a return to human origins, Marlow tells his audience that "going up that river was like travelling back to the earliest beginnings of the world, when vegetation rioted on the earth and the big trees were kings" (35). 30 This passage lies behind Rachel's response to Gibbon's words: "They seemed to drive roads back to the very beginning of the world. . . . by passing down them all knowledge would be hers, and the book of the world turned back to the very first page" (160). The heightened consciousness that characterizes Rachel's response is often linked to the trees that repeatedly thrust themselves into her awareness and to Conrad's conjunction of explosive energy ("vegetation rioted") and constraining male authority ("the big trees were kings"). The trope recurs, for instance, when in a moment of "startling intensity, as though the dusty surface had been peeled off everything, leaving only the reality and the instant," Rachel sees a group of people seated at tables: "A massive green tree stood over them as if it were a moving force held at rest" (245). After reading Ibsen, Rachel gazes out the window at a landscape that, in a phrase anticipating Woolf's praise of Conrad's "astonishing solidity," suddenly appears "amazingly solid and clear"; she then sees "men on the hill [End Page 48] washing the trunks of olive trees with a white liquid" (112). 31 This last detail, added only after Woolf had returned from her honeymoon to read The Village in the Jungle, partakes of the erotic charge found more generally in The Voyage Out's trees, which, rising "massively in front of her," make Rachel shiver "with anger and excitement" (142). 32

Woolf's fascination with the Conradian conflation of riot and restraint in the image of the big trees corresponds to Rachel's violent swings between rebellion and anxious acquiescence, and their conjunction is repeatedly marked by moments of vision. The most detailed of these epiphanies is also the most revealing. Just before she stops to read Gibbon, Rachel, wandering aimlessly, is filled with "one of those unreasonable exultations which start generally from an unknown cause":

So she might have walked until she had lost all knowledge of her way, had it not been for the interruption of a tree, which, although it did not grow across her path, stopped her as effectively as if the branches had struck her in the face. It was an ordinary tree, but to her it appeared so strange that it might have been the only tree in the world. Dark was the trunk in the middle, and the branches sprang here and there, leaving jagged intervals of light between them as distinctly as if it had but that second risen from the ground. Having seen a sight that would last her for a lifetime, and for a lifetime would preserve that second, the tree once more sank into the ordinary ranks of trees, and she was able to seat herself in its shade. (159-60)

The "unknown cause" of this exultation lies in its contiguity to Rachel's reading of Gibbon, which takes place in the shadow of the uncanny tree. Stopping her in her tracks, the tree keeps Rachel from losing "all knowledge of her way" just before Gibbon drives her back to "the very [End Page 49] beginning of the world." Rachel's "only tree in the world" is thus linked to Gibbon's promise that "all knowledge would be hers." Yet the irruption of the tree also acts as a block to knowledge, as if in a moment of sublimity the expansion of Rachel's mind were simultaneously catalyzed and arrested, "a moving force held at rest," by the resistant solidity of the tree. The collision of consciousness and the overwhelming thereness of a reality that exceeds consciousness is at the heart of the sublime, and this phenomenon finds grammatical expression in the last sentence of the quotation, in which the tree displaces the proper grammatical subject for whom the "sight" of the tree would last a lifetime, Rachel. As the tree momentarily fills her mind, to the exclusion of thought, for one extraordinary moment Rachel seems to experience reality without mediation. So powerful is the experience that she thinks back to it later in the novel (211), when its association in her mind with Terence makes clear that the power she both thrills to and resists when seeing the tree or reading Gibbon is, in the logic of the novel, essentially phallic.

Rachel's experience of defamiliarization while gazing at one of the trees that Helen had said "it was worth the voyage out merely to see" (159) betrays the intensity of Woolf's ambivalent attraction to Conrad. 33 Although the tree elicits the kind of "moment of vision" that Woolf valued in Conrad, the repetition of such a moment in Rachel's reading of Gibbon sends Rachel running away from "the discovery of a terrible possibility in life" (161). On the level of plot, Rachel is fleeing from her sexual attraction to Terence, perhaps from sexuality altogether. Stepping back, we can also see Woolf struggling with a powerful male predecessor, for although she found quintessentially modernist moments [End Page 50] of vision in Conrad, the experience of thinking back through him could not have been entirely congenial to a woman who advised other women (on the same page that she proscribed Gibbon's "male sentence" and praised Austen's alternative) to think back through their mothers (Room, 79). Rachel's flight from Gibbon also parallels Woolf's impulse to withdraw from Leonard's sexual advances. Many have argued that Woolf's deeply troubled response to sex on her honeymoon led to a sexless marriage; Lee, surveying the key accounts, concludes that it was "not an a-sexual marriage" but was grounded in "affectionate cuddling and play" rather than in intercourse or other forms of explicitly sexual behavior (331-33). What is clear is that Woolf shied away from conventional heterosexual relations and yet found a way to make her marriage with Leonard work. Woolf's response to The Village in the Junglewas comparable: however much the book might have troubled her, she engaged productively with it. She ultimately had good reason, that is, to return her husband's favor by dedicating her first novel to him.

In Leonard's Jungle

Critics often have read The Village in the Jungle as Leonard's anxious expression of inferiority as a Jew engaged to a woman such as Woolf; he is the black ram tupping the white ewe. 34 Although for readers today the novel may seem comic when viewed as Bloomsbury in blackface, if one reads it through Virginia Woolf's eyes, the tales it tells of the domestication of wild native women are enough to make one wonder why she did not run screaming into the night. Writing to Leonard after reading it in manuscript, she says only that it seems to her "amazingly good" (Letters, 1:12). Yet there is reason to suggest that the anguished ambivalence in Woolf's letter "accepting" Leonard's marriage proposal—"I feel angry sometimes at the strength of your desire" (Letters, 1:496)—could stand also as her response to the erotic violence of his novel. Although there is no reason to question Leonard's motives for writing, The Village in the Jungle reads as if it were written to get under his bride's skin. [End Page 51]

Rewriting The Voyage Outafter reading The Village in the Jungle, Woolf radically changed three crucial, tightly linked scenes: the moment in which Rachel and Terence declare their love while deep in the jungle; the ensuing moment, in which Helen wrestles Rachel to the ground and stuffs grass into her mouth; and the culminating moment of the expedition, the entry into a native village. In Melymbrosiathe love scene is rendered in the lifeless language of pulp romance; in the final text this scene becomes uncanny and dislocated, suffused with highly charged yet alienated desire. In MelymbrosiaHelen and Rachel's embrace is powerfully erotic, much more so than Rachel and Terence's first kiss; in The Voyage Outit is elliptical, more obscurely motivated, and discordant. Finally, the tableau of staring native women in The Voyage Out—the scene on which, in my view, the entire narrative hinges—is twice as long as the corresponding moment in Melymbrosia, and the women's disturbing stare, along with the responses it elicits, is much more detailed. Other critics have noticed these changes, but they have attributed them to biography alone, leaving Leonard's novel out of the equation. In fact, the revised text of The Voyage Outbetrays its clear influence.

The Village in the Jungletells the story of twin sisters, Punchi Menika and Hinnihami, each of whom has a "strangeness and wildness" associated with the jungle (27). Despite Amazon-like independence, each is brought under the thumb of a dominant man. Imagine Woolf, newly returned from her honeymoon, reading Leonard's description of the near rape through which a young man, Babun, claims Punchi Menika as his mate: "She allowed him to take her into the thick jungle, but she struggled with him, and her whole body shook with fear and desire as she felt his hands upon her breasts. A cry broke from her, in which joy and desire mingled with the fear and the pain" (30). However frightening Babun's lust, Punchi Menika's married life may be more chilling, for soon her "wildness" becomes "dimmer and vaguer": "She became the man's woman, the cook of his food, the cleaner of his house, and bearer of his children" (40). One waits in vain for an acknowledgment of the loss that this domestication entails.

Hinnihami fares worse. A hideously scarred old shaman, Punchirala, begins to hanker for her, and despite her elaborate efforts to resist him, Hinnihami finds that the old man's magic is potent enough to endanger her father's life. Reluctantly, Hinnihami agrees to be given to Punchirala, [End Page 52] but she defiantly interprets the agreement to mean that she will be his sexual partner for only one night. Nevertheless she becomes pregnant, and soon after giving birth she begins to suckle an orphaned fawn alongside her daughter, Punchi Nona. The girl dies, and Hinnihami comes to think of the deer, which she continues to nurse, as her son. When drought and other ills descend on the village, its superstitious inhabitants, blaming Hinnihami's aberrant behavior, surround the deer to stone it. Hinnihami tries to intervene, but they throw her to the ground, tearing her jacket to shreds, and beat her. The deer dies later that day; Hinnihami is dead by the next morning. The narrative then turns back to Punchi Menika. She is soon pursued by a powerful older man, Fernando, who has her husband sent off to prison, where he dies; Fernando himself is shot dead by Punchi Menika's father, who is then imprisoned for life. The novel ends with Punchi Menika alone in the deserted village, waiting for death, which comes in the ambiguously metaphoric form of a wild boar gliding into her hut with gleaming white tusks.

In an imperial romance such as The Village in the Jungle or Heart of Darkness, one expects to find metropolitan subjects who see, at the boundaries of civilization, their own desires mirrored in the face of the other. Officially committed to duty and discipline, Marlow finds Kurtz, a mass murderer he is willing to see as a visionary, and Kurtz's native mistress, "savage and superb, wild-eyed and magnificent" (60), redolent of the sexuality missing from Kurtz's virtually disembodied intended back home. Leonard creates an exotic land of violently untrammeled desire in which two superb sisters meet their match in desires even more powerful than their own. By dressing the untamed noblewomen of Norfolk, Virginia and her sister, Vanessa, in native garb, Leonard in effect recapitulated the common trope of the male colonizer projecting his desire onto the female colonized. He did not need to strain his inner eye for an image of this racial masquerade: the 1910 photograph of the Dreadnought hoax that Quentin Bell reproduces in his biography of Virginia Woolf no doubt served well, with Virginia and the rest of the Abyssinian entourage gathered in blackface to record their duping of the British naval authorities. 35 [End Page 53]

Leonard would have been shocked at the suggestion that his novel in any way reproduced the uneven flow of power in colonial discourse. He felt that The Village in the Jungle expressed his growing anti-imperialism after leaving the civil service, and the respect he shows the native people of Ceylon in the novel could be construed as an attempt to subvert the Eurocentrism of most colonial literature. Leonard later wrote that he tried "somehow or other vicariously to live their lives" (Beginning Again, 47), and the story is related almost entirely through the perspective of indigenous characters. Yet Douglas Kerr's comparison of The Village in the Jungle with Leonard's Ceylon diaries and letters suggests that, however unusual it is in granting the villagers such autonomy, the novel in effect reinstates colonial domination at a higher level. The European magistrate, a relatively marginal character, cannot get to the bottom of the cases over which he presides, but the bulk of The Village in the Jungle plumbs "the life lived by the native people of Ceylon when there was no colonial presence to observe them." Kerr concludes that the novelistic power to see into indigenous lives whose opacity frustrated Leonard the colonial administrator appealed to Leonard the novelist as "a sheer compensatory fantasy of omniscience." The novel thus exercises "a more complete discourse authority" over the natives than "the most missionary of colonial powers ever aspired to." 36

The omniscience of The Village in the Jungle may be its least Conradian feature. James Clifford, who finds in Heart of Darkness "a paradigm of ethnographic subjectivity," helps position it in relation to narrative authority in The Voyage Outand The Village in the Jungle. Unpacking Malinowski's desire to become the Conrad of anthropology, Clifford argues that the frame narrator who listens to Marlow, recording and evaluating the incomplete revelations of the participant narrator, represents "the achieved perspective of the serious interpreter of cultures, of local, partial knowledge." 37 The authority of this narrator rests on his privileged access to Marlow's narration of his experience in "the field" and yet is limited by his historical situatedness as a listener on board a ship [End Page 54] anchored in the Thames. Leonard occasionally tried to write in a similar vein, but his framed narration in "The Two Brahmans" was criticized by E. M. Forster as too derivative of Conrad. The antithesis of Conrad's ethnographic subjectivity, the omniscience of The Village in the Jungleis consonant with the voice of anthropology that Malinowski wishes to move beyond, one which erases the subjectivity of the observer as it lays claim to objective knowledge of everything under its purview.

Leonard's anthropological omniscience may lie behind a conversation in The Voyage Outin which Rachel recoils from Terence's "determination to know" (201). As Rachel describes daily life with her aunts back in Richmond, she reverts to "a childlike state of interest and pleasure" (200), but she immediately becomes unhappy when Terence explains why he is so eager to hear what she has to say: she is a woman, and as a budding novelist he seeks knowledge of the "curious silent unrepresented life" of women as a prelude to broadening the scope of English fiction. His seemingly anthropological attention to her as a specimen of womanhood makes her feel "at once singular and under observation" (200). Indeed, Terence's desire to find out "what on earth the women [are] doing inside" the houses he passes on the streets (200) by talking with Rachel echoes Leonard's attempt to live vicariously through the natives of Ceylon. Rachel shakes off her dismay but still feels uncomfortable: "Why did he [Terence] sit so near and keep his eye on her?" (203). Closely watched, Rachel might be one of Leonard's characters, always under the author's hidden eye.

The contrast between narrative authority in Heart of Darkness and The Village in the Junglealso throws into relief a telling anomaly in the narration of Melymbrosiaand The Voyage Out. Although both versions of Woolf's novel use omniscient narrators, their knowledge is undercut in a pivotal sequence that connects Rachel and Helen to the hotel where the other Europeans are staying. One night Rachel and Helen, who live in a nearby villa, spy on the hotel lounge through a window until Hirst notices them and they scurry away. The narrator soon enters the hotel and surveys the people going to bed, pausing over Miss Allan reading Wordsworth and Susan Warrington writing in her diary, before making a curious transition into William Pepper's room: "A glance into the next room revealed little more than a nose, prominent above the sheets. Growing accustomed to the darkness . . . one could distinguish [End Page 55] a lean form, terribly like the body of a dead person" (95). The suddenly embodied narrator, having cast off the guise of omniscience, seems to outdo the eavesdropping women by creeping into the unsuspecting Pepper's room. 38 If Leonard's characters are in effect being watched without their knowing, for a moment Woolf's narrator is in danger, like Rachel and Helen, of being discovered in the act of watching.

This blip in the narrative mode is symptomatic of Woolf's desire to devise an alternative to Leonard's narrative omniscience (probably modeled on Hardy, whom Leonard greatly admired). 39 Although the narrative mode remains conventionally omniscient throughout most of The Voyage Out, the countercurrent felt in the fleetingly embodied narrator registers also in the way that vision presses on the body in Woolf's rewriting of the jungle and in the flux of irrationality subsequently introduced into the narrative by her fever.

In Virginia's Jungle

For the tightly linked episodes that lead into her native village, Woolf uses the same narrative sequence in Melymbrosiaand The Voyage Out. On the river expedition Rachel and Terence declare their love to one another while walking through the jungle; when they return, Helen pounces on Rachel; the reassembled group then visits a native village. Yet Woolf altered each scene greatly in revision. 40

In the love scene between Rachel and Terence, the romantic clichés of Melymbrosiaare replaced by a prolonged moment of surreal dislocation [End Page 56] in which the pair seems drugged and confused, the landscape uncanny and disorienting. When in MelymbrosiaRachel opens her arms in answer to Terence's whispered declaration of love, the embrace might be lifted from a romance by Ethel Dell, Barbara Cartland's early-century soulmate: "More as people who grope, who push away a veil between them than as man and woman in midday they sought each other's arms. They embraced passionately" (197). In The Voyage Outthey walk as if "at the bottom of the sea" before pausing to sit down, "unable to frame any thoughts" in a heavy silence (256). The acknowledgment of shared feeling (if that is what it is) when Terence declares his love is almost lost in Rachel's benumbed echoing, which drains Terence's words of sense. "'You like being with me?' Terence asked. 'Yes, with you,' she replied" (256):

"That is what I have felt ever since I knew you," he replied. "We are happy together." He did not seem to be speaking, or she to be hearing.
      "Very happy," she answered.
      They continued to walk for some time in silence. Their steps unconsciously quickened.
      "We love each other,"Terence said.
      "We love each other," she repeated. (257)

Their first embrace then takes place in a space reminiscent of Arthur Conan Doyle's "lost world": "Sounds stood out from the background making a bridge across their silence; they heard the swish of the trees and some beast croaking in a remote world" (257). No dinosaurs lumber out from the trees, but their kiss elicits fear: "'Terrible—terrible,' she murmured after another pause, but in saying this she was thinking as much of the persistent churning of the water as of her own feeling. On and on it went in the distance, the senseless and cruel churning of the water" (257). Later Mrs. Flushing's crass intuition that something has happened between them comes closest to naming Rachel's inner turbulence as the frightening rush of desire. "One reads a lot about love," Mrs. Flushing observes. "But what happens in real life, eh? It ain't love!" (259). Seemingly stunned by desire and alienated from language, by the next day Rachel and Terence must talk themselves into accepting their engagement as if it had happened to someone else: "They faded far away from each other, and neither could remember what had been said" (267). [End Page 57]

If her revision of the engagement scene suggests that Woolf was trying to cope with anxiety stirred up by her marrying Leonard, the revision of the next scene suggests that she was struggling to renormalize a narrative that had become very weird indeed during Rachel and Terence's walk in the jungle. In both Melymbrosia and The Voyage OutHelen intuits that Rachel and Terence are engaged and wrestles Rachel to the ground in a sea of grass, but the two versions read very differently. In Melymbrosia Helen chases her until Rachel suddenly stops to open her arms; Helen then rolls her down to the ground, "stuffing grass into her mouth," and orders her to say, "You worship me!" When Rachel exclaims that she loves Terence "better," Helen confesses: "I've never told you, but you know I love you, my darling." Rachel reminds Helen of Rachel's dead mother, Theresa, whom Helen also loved (209). Melymbrosia's intensely realized moment of desire—simultaneously lesbian, sororal, and maternal—survives in The Voyage Out only as a glimpse of potentially dissident desire in a scene so dislocated that more than one edition of the novel offers an explanatory footnote. 41 As Rachel and Terence walk along, comparing notes on their experience of happiness, "a hand . . . abrupt as iron" knocks her to the ground without warning or explanation; her fragmentary impressions gradually reveal that Helen is "upon her," rolling her about in tall grasses that whip across Rachel's eyes and fill her mouth and ears: "She was speechless and almost without sense." Recovering her mental equilibrium, Rachel looks up to see, in an almost parodic vision of the cultural hegemony of heterosexuality, "two great heads, the heads of a man and woman, of Terence and Helen": "Broken fragments of speech came down to her on the ground. She thought she heard them speak of love and then of marriage. Raising herself and sitting up, she too realised Helen's soft body, the strong and hospitable arms, and happiness swelling and breaking in one vast wave" (268). As in Melymbrosia, here too Helen's embrace moves Rachel in a way that Terence's kiss does not, but Helen's perspective (and thus her declaration of love) has disappeared altogether, leaving only Rachel's subjectively rendered experience of confusion, which distorts her [End Page 58] potentially errant desires almost beyond recognition. As if predicting Rachel's reentry into the narrative of heterosexual love and marriage that Helen and Terence seem to break over her like an egg, the paragraphs immediately following the engagement show Rachel beginning to follow Terence's lead, "stopping where he stopped, turning where he turned, ignorant of the way, ignorant why he stopped or why he turned" (258). The process of normalization is complete by the time they follow Mr. Flushing into the native village, "falling into line" in his wake (268).

It is this sort of revision that makes The Voyage Out read like a palimpsest. Not only does an earlier version of the novel show through a later one, but in both drafts one detects, behind the "swishing of the grasses" and the "trail of whitened grass," the "soft grass paths" of Norfolk in Woolf's journal, the "undulating" land that reminds her of an untamed woman (see Passionate Apprentice, 312; Melymbrosia, 209; Voyage Out, 268). 42 The "noble untamed woman" in the journal can remain untamed because she is "conscious that she has no beauty to vaunt, that nobody very much wants her." She stands apart, that is, from the erotic demands and interpersonal pressures that threaten Rachel, who always feels the desiring eyes of others.

Undoubtedly, the partial erasure of Rachel and Helen's erotic entanglement exemplifies what DeSalvo describes as Woolf's retreat from self-revelation in revision. But this awkward rebinding of errant desire was written only after Woolf had read Leonard's account of how wild women are tamed in the jungle. The horrifying scene of Hinnihami's comeuppance is a cautionary tale about the fate of those whose desires deviate from communal norms:

The sight of the bleeding deer and the woman lying on the ground, naked to the waist, seemed to send a wave of lust and cruelty through the men. They tore Hinnihami's cloth from her, and, taking her by the arms, dragged her naked up to the deer.
          "Bring [her] to her child," they shouted. . . . "Is there no milk in your breasts for him now?" [End Page 59]
          They held her that she might see what they did. The deer was moaning in pain. One of the men cut a thick stick and struck him upon the hind legs until they were broken. Hinnihami fought and struggled, but she was powerless in their hands. At length, when they had become tired of torturing them, they threw her down by the deer's side and went away. (Village, 83)

Stripping her naked in a moment of cruel lust, the "jeering knot of men" (83) reestablishes the sexual dominance visited on Hinnihami by Punchirala, the father of her child, and reclaims her body for "normal" motherhood. Although none of the pressures brought to bear on Rachel's body produces the violence of this scene, Woolf's revision of Rachel's encounter with Helen reads as if it were written to preempt just such a "correction." In light of these revisions, Rachel's frustration earlier in The Voyage Out, when she feels the weight of worldly conventions repressing her body, reads like a complaint against Woolf, who gives Rachel more discernment than power.

In her revision of the ensuing scene in the village, which the tourists enter right after Helen has wrestled Rachel to the ground, Woolf again introduces the overwhelming power of the normative. In Melymbrosia the scene goes by quickly. Barely two pages long, the chapter devotes as much attention to Mr. Flushing's negotiations for native goods as it does to Rachel's response to the women carrying the goods back and forth for his inspection. The opening paragraph sets the scene: "The Indian women were squatting at the doors of their huts making baskets and did not stir from their triangular position when the strangers arrived though their long narrow eyes slid round and fixed upon them. As no one except Mr Flushing could speak to them the silent stare had to be continued" (211). As the English move past, peering into the natives' huts, "eyes seemed to follow them without hostility but without great interest." Rachel feels that her newfound intimacy with Terence ought to enable her "to understand their faces," but she is forced to own that "she knew nothing about them," and her happiness is "dashed" (211, 212). After a paragraph describing Flushing's efforts to buy some artifacts, Terence asks Rachel why she is sad and is told, "Because it [the women] makes us seem small." But Rachel immediately retreats from this feeling by adding, "But what I have in my heart is as great as anything in the world" (212). As the chapter ends, Rachel [End Page 60] is overwhelmed by the intensity of her love for Terence, and they embrace, sobbing.

Unremarkable in Melymbrosia, the scene in The Voyage Outbecomes highly charged and more than doubles in length. Most striking is the intensity now attributed to the native women's stare. Squatting on the ground, the women again appear triangular, echoing Marlow's horror-struck vision of Africans dying in the shadows as "bundles of acute angles" in Heart of Darkness (21); this time, however, after the English look "for a moment undiscovered," their bodies fall under the women's unrelenting gaze:

Their hands paused for a moment and their long narrow eyes slid round and fixed upon them with the motionless inexpressive gaze of those removed from each other far far beyond the plunge of speech. Their hands moved again, but the stare continued. It followed them as they walked, as they peered into huts where they could distinguish guns leaning in the corner, and bowls upon the floor, and stacks of rushes; in the dusk the solemn eyes of babies regarded them, and old women stared out too. As they sauntered about, the stare followed them, passing over their legs, their bodies, their heads, curiously, not without hostility, like the crawl of a winter fly. As she drew apart her shawl and uncovered her breast to the lips of her baby, the eyes of a woman never left their faces, although they moved uneasily under her stare, and finally turned away, rather than stand there looking at her any longer. (Voyage Out, 269)

The steady stare is commonplace in European accounts of "primitive" peoples. In Women in Love, for instance, D. H. Lawrence draws on a common lexicon when his narrator invokes "the unwearying stare of aborigines" to describe the downtrodden wives of miners. 43 But in The Voyage Out the stare is unusually charged and unnerving. Regarded "without hostility" in Melymbrosia, the English here are watched "not without hostility." In response, Hirst feels bitter, unhappy, and alone; Helen, perhaps roused to maternal solicitude by the sight of the nursing mother, experiences "presentiments of disaster" (270). Rachel and Terence, having felt at first that the women were "peaceful, and even beautiful," now feel "very cold and melancholy" (269). Woolf's emphasis on staring and the dread of falling under scrutiny, which she greatly [End Page 61] amplified in revision, derives in part from her response to Leonard's narrative omniscience in The Village in the Jungle. But the vivid intensity of the staring in Virginia's native village also has roots in specific passages.

As she searches for her husband, for example, Punchi Menika suffers the unsettling stare of villagers:

The stream of passers-by upon the road, the unknown faces and the eyes that always stared strangely, inquiringly at her for a moment, and had then passed on for ever, made her feel vaguely how utterly alone she was in the world. And nowhere was this feeling so strong for her as in the villages where she slunk through like a frightened jackal. Everywhere it was the same; the crowd of villagers and travellers staring at her from in front of the village boutique, the group of women gossiping and laughing round the well in the paddy field—not a known face among them all. (Village, 171)

Here is the link between staring and the intense experience of alienation that the English feel in The Voyage Out. The specific form of Rachel's melancholy response to the stare also can be traced to The Village in the Jungle. Before Punchi Menika leaves to find her husband, she looks into the face of the woman who raised her, Karlinahami:

The jungle had left its mark on her. Her body was bent and twisted, like the stunted trees, which the south-west wind had tortured into grotesque shapes. The skin, too, on her face and thin limbs reminded one of the bark of the jungle trees; it was shrunken against the bones, and wrinkled, and here and there flaking off into whitish brown scales, as the bark flakes off the kumbuk-trees. . . . And under the lined forehead were the eyes, lifeless and filmy, peering out of innumerable wrinkles. The eyes were not blind, but they seemed to be sightless—the pupil, the iris, and even the white had merged—because the mind was dying. It is what usually happens in the jungle—to women especially—the mind dies before the body. Imperceptibly the power of initiative, of thought, of feeling, dies out before the monotony of life, the monotony of the tearing hot wind, the monotony of endless trees, the monotony of perpetual hardship. (Village, 166)

This passage, which joins the staring to the tree imagery I have discussed, offers insight into what bothers Rachel so much about the women in The Voyage Out: they are specular doubles for her future as a wife; they bring home to her the pressures of domestication and normalization [End Page 62] against which she has struggled since she left England for South America. The theme of unwanted scrutiny appears in the same context in a long scene, canceled from the later typescript, in which Rachel and Terence, "sounding very much more like Leonard and Virginia," discuss the experience of speaking with Mrs. Thornbury and others about their engagement (Heine, "Virginia Woolf's Revisions," 443). Terence remarks: "Well, Rachel, that wasn't so very dreadful was it?—the eyes of all those women?" (quoted in Heine, "Virginia Woolf's Revisions," 443).

In response to The Village in the Jungle, finally, Woolf also alters the words that Rachel and Terence exchange after wilting under the stare of the native women. Where in Melymbrosia Rachel comments on how small the women make her feel, in The Voyage Out that sentiment is attributed to Terence, and her revised remark to him echoes "the monotony of the tearing hot wind, the monotony of endless trees" in Leonard's jungle: "So it would go on for ever and ever, she said, those women sitting under the trees, the trees and the river" (Voyage Out, 270). In the intertextual logic I have traced, to sit forever under the trees is to risk turning into a tree, as Karlinahami essentially does. No wonder that before leaving the native women far behind, Rachel and Terence feel the need "to assure each other once more that they [are] in love, [are] happy, [are] content" (270).

Turning into a tree hints at two ultimate fates. One is suggested by Mrs. Thornbury, an emblem of motherhood as the loss of self, who reminds Terence of "a large old tree murmuring in the moonlight, or a river going on and on and on" (278). Her long life and her children seem to Rachel, remembering Terence's words, "to have rubbed away the marks of individuality, and to have left only what was old and maternal" (301). It is therefore appropriate that the potential power of Rachel's musical disruption of the engagement dance is realized in relation to Mrs. Thornbury, the broken "link of the chain" who sends the rest of the dancers "flying across the room in all directions" (152). The second fate complements the first: to become a tree is to be subordinated to the phallic power that holds such ambivalent fascination for Rachel. This ambivalence, sharpened by Woolf's response to Leonard, makes The Voyage Outa key text for the study of Woolf's modernism. [End Page 63]

From Male to Female Modernism

Female modernism is a vague term that nevertheless remains indispensable. 44 For some, it refers to the recovery of women writers obscured by the canonization of male modernists, Wyndham Lewis's Men of 1914: Joyce, Eliot, Pound, and Lewis himself. 45 Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar's influential three-volume study of the woman writer in the twentieth century, No Man's Land, falls largely into this category by understanding "male modernism" as a cultural strategy for retarding the social and literary progress of women and by showing how female writers have contested forms of aesthetic containment deployed by male writers. 46 Bonnie Kime Scott's Refiguring Modernismcontributes to the project of restoring women's place in modernist culture by proposing the (female) trope of the web as a supplement to the (male) trope of modernist "scaffolding" in order to restore a network of relations that brings to the fore the "Women of 1928": Djuna Barnes, Rebecca West, and Virginia Woolf. 47 Another approach understands female modernism to refer to the notion that some forms of modernist innovation, irrespective of the gender of the writer, may have progressive, antipatriarchal implications. The most radical version of this approach posits a principle of femaleness as fundamental to modernism and argues that modernism's subversions of received models—for instance, of selfhood, signification, hierarchy, and epistemology—are cognate with what Hélène Cixous and other feminist theorists have called écriture féminine. 48 This intrinsically feminist model of modernism has been [End Page 64] most influentially advanced by Julia Kristeva, who understands linguistic fragmentation in modernism as a subversion of male mastery. 49

Marianne DeKoven surveys these competing understandings of female modernism in Rich and Strangewhile situating herself in relation to debates over the political significance of modernism. Woolf, DeKoven suggests, anticipated the argument for écriture féminine in A Room of One's Ownand "Modern Fiction." DeKoven bridges the differences among various understandings of female modernism by arguing that modernism evolved as it did to offer adequate representations of the "terrifying appeal" of turn-of-the-century feminism and socialism (4). My understanding of female modernism harmonizes with DeKoven's in that I too attempt to synthesize potentially divergent approaches, but where DeKoven, who also takes the relationship between Heart of Darkness and The Voyage Out as an exemplary case, ultimately turns to a poststructuralist model of modernism, I attend more closely to the tangle of interpersonal and intertextual relations that informs literary production. According to DeKoven, the reassertion of the repressed maternal in modernist literature contributes to the subversion of prevailing social hierarchies by deconstructing binary oppositions. My interpretation of this constellation coincides at many points with DeKoven's reading of Conrad and Woolf, particularly with her claim that both Heart of Darkness and The Voyage Out, despite their provisional deconstructions of patriarchy, ultimately reinstate "the patriarchal maternal" (138), a maternal principle not yet strong enough to commit to an expression of its difference. But the recovery of The Village in the Jungleas a key mediator of Conrad's influence reveals three things: the crosscurrents of desire that motivate and shape specific literary debts in The Voyage Out; the degree to which violence against the mother is part of the process of undoing subordination to the father; and the importance of the scene upriver in the development of Woolf's modernism. By recognizing the complex mediations of gender, sexuality, and literary history among the texts of Leonard, Virginia, Conrad, and Austen, we can preserve the historical particularly of the literary-biographical web (to borrow Scott's trope) centered on the Woolfs' marriage. [End Page 65]

Rachel's encounter with the women in the native village, which DeKoven reads as a last glimpse of a positive figuration of the maternal (125), is better understood as a culminating instance of the disconnected connection Rachel has felt with mother figures throughout the novel. Rachel sometimes gives in to a furious need to distance herself from her nearest mother surrogate, Helen, and when she sees a photograph of an acquaintance's mother, she remarks, "Well, I don't much believe in her" (237). 50 This alienation from a mother she cannot ignore becomes palpable as Rachel stands face to face with the women in the village. Being situated "far far beyond the plunge of speech," as the native women are, might, in the logic of the novel, be a good thing, particularly given the suspicion of language that Rachel voices when discussing with Terence the relative virtues of words and music. Indeed, in psychoanalytic terms, the native woman nursing her child to the rhythms of nature suggests the pre-oedipal bond between mother and child, and the violence implicit in the "plunge of speech" suggests the alienating power of the symbolic order. Yet in The Voyage Out the presymbolic bond between mother and child, idealized in psychoanalytic theory as a refuge of wordless connectedness, is tainted. For bonding with Helen would mean joining with a male-identified woman who is revealed as an agent of patriarchy well before she stands with Terence over Rachel's newly betrothed body. Inasmuch as in her later career Woolf would draw on the rhythms of the pre-oedipal, this highly charged scene holds out the promise of an enabling, rather than a fatal, identification with the mother. 51 But these women, silent as trees, come from Leonard's jungle, and to think through them is not to tap into the flow of female vitality that Woolf would posit in A Room of One's Own but to enter into the living death of Karlinahami. [End Page 66]

Remote from the English tourists and also "removed from each other," these women, then, are not positive representatives of a "preoedipal sanctuary of semiotic utterance" but symbols of the mothers that Rachel must reject and that Woolf, as she would argue in "Professions for Women," must destroy. 52 Woolf felt that to become a writer, she had to dispatch "the angel in the house," a figure adapted from the Coventry Patmore poem and aptly described in a draft of Woolf's 1931 talk as "the woman that men wished women to be": "I turned upon her and caught her by the throat. I did my best to kill her." 53 Woolf pleads self-defense: "Had I not killed her she would have killed me" ("Professions for Women," 238). During Rachel's delirium, the portion of the novel that always threatened to push Woolf into madness, Rachel too comes face-to-face with a dangerous older woman. The "old woman with the knife," who surfaces in her fever right after she sees an unnamed "they" "rolling off the edge of the hill" (314), embodies two figures from earlier in the narrative: an old woman at the hotel whom Rachel has seen cutting off a chicken's head and the sight, upsetting to her, of Susan Warrington and Arthur Venning rolling on the ground together during the picnic. The old woman in her dream clearly represents Rachel's anxiety about heterosexuality, domesticity, and marriage. But she also represents more.

When the old woman resurfaces after Terence has kissed Rachel, Rachel does not imagine the woman as a threat to her; she sees "only an old woman slicing a man's head off with a knife" (320). Why a man? A psychoanalytic perspective would suggest displaced hostility toward Terence (and Leonard), but this iteration of the old woman also leads back to the woman writer's need to kill the angel in the house. In her 1925 essay Woolf comments on the "divine justice" Austen metes out to characters such as Dr. Grant in Mansfield Park (1814): "Sometimes it seems as if her creatures were born merely to give Jane Austen the [End Page 67] supreme delight of slicing their heads off" ("Jane Austen," 140). Similarly, the old woman at the hotel cuts off the chicken's head "with an expression of vindictive energy and triumph combined" (239). The old woman in Rachel's delirium not only expresses a fear of heterosexuality and its social institutions, then, but prefigures the "phantom" in "Professions for Women" who will kill or be killed, a ghostly presence who in The Voyage Outis named Jane Austen. In other words, the restoration of the patriarchal maternal that in DeKoven's reading suspends The Voyage Outbetween the old and the new is driven in part by a desire to slay the mother. In The Voyage OutWoolf allows Austen to kill Rachel so that she herself can kill Austen.

It is thus fitting that Rachel's delirium produces some of Woolf's most modernist writing in The Voyage Out. Lying outside the constraints of plot, linearity, and conscious rationality, the passages evoking her hallucinations and dreams monitor only the flow of Rachel's unconscious; they struggle to articulate her "unknown and uncircumscribed spirit, whatever aberration or complexity it may display" ("Modern Fiction," 150). Woolf later recognized that if The Voyage Outwas "too loose" in form, Night and Daywas "too tight"—too like the "tight plait" Rachel dislikes in Austen (Letters, 2:400). In a fascinating 1912 letter about the future of the novel, Woolf struggles to explain to a fellow writer what "we, in our generation" must do: "renounce finally the achievement of the greater beauty: the beauty which comes from completeness, in such books as War and Peace, and Stendhal I suppose, and some of Jane Austen" (Letters, 2:599). In preparing to "attack the whole," Woolf talks herself into embracing something like the "fragments" and "splinters" she has disparaged in reference to Joyce. What is the generation to do? It must "break its neck in order that the next may have smooth going" (Letters, 2:598-601). Any way you slice it, heads must roll before Woolf can arrive at the "orts, scraps and fragments" of her last novel, Between the Acts. 54

But the violence of Woolf's slicing, grabbing, and breaking of necks should not obscure the less dramatic ways that she turns to Conrad as an alternative to Austen. In terms of structure, Conrad's adventure narrative [End Page 68] clearly intervenes to curtail Austen's marriage plot. But the interrogative, hesitating, yet authoritative quality of his ethnographic subjectivity also makes possible a narrative stance different from Leonard's potentially oppressive omniscience and the cutting edge of Austen's satire. Rachel stands in for Woolf at the juncture between the two chapters that describe the picnic ascent of Mount Rosa. Here, having noticed Rachel "lying back rather behind the others," but still within the group, Terence asks what she is looking at: "She was a little startled, but answered directly: 'Human beings'" (123). This is Woolf viewing Austen through Conrad, the Conradian ethnographer commenting on Austen's Box Hill.

The emotional cost of choosing domesticity, of identifying with the angels in the hut, was brought home to Woolf not only by her decision to marry Leonard but by the pressure of his text, which itself echoed Conrad's, on the embattled subjectivity of her own. But however threatening Leonard's tale of the jungle might have been, its influence on The Voyage Out was not, ultimately, inhibiting, nor can their interrelation be reduced to Gilbert and Gubar's model of modernism as a battle between the sexes. Rather, the scene in the jungle that registers the pressure of Leonard's book marks a moment of recognition in which Woolf, through Rachel, realized the possibility of finding her own voice as a modern writer, able to ground her fiction on her "own feeling and not upon convention" ("Modern Fiction," 150). In "Professions for Women" Woolf believes that she has not been able to solve the problem of how to tell "the truth about [her] own experiences as a body" (241), but in The Voyage Outshe begins the process by anatomizing the pressures that place "the weight of the entire world" on Rachel's body. In the specular relation between Rachel and the native women, which denies a connection with the mother even as it forms, a fault line opens to reveal a glimpse into an unrealized future. Staring back at the women, Virginia Woolf saw not only the monotony of bourgeois domesticity, Gibbon's history, Conrad's trees, and Leonard's jungle but, paradoxically, the origins of her own modernism.

 



Mark A. Wollaeger is associate professor of English at Vanderbilt University. He is author of Joseph Conrad and the Fictions of Skepticism (1990), coeditor of Joyce and the Subject of History (1996), and editor of James Joyce's "A Portrait of the Artist As a Young Man": A Casebook (forthcoming). His work in progress includes a study of British modernism and the new media. His essay "Killing Stevie: Modernity, Modernism, and Mastery in Conrad and Hitchcock" appeared in MLQ58:3 (September 1997).

Notes

I thank Jay Clayton, Gayle Rogers, Jen Shelton, and Karin Westman for their comments on earlier drafts of this essay, and the audiences at the annual conferences of the Modernist Studies Association and the International Society for the Study of Narrative Literature. I am grateful also to Barbara Fuchs for her editorial acumen and to MLQ's anonymous reader, who provided a generously detailed and helpful report.

1. Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own (New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1957), 79. Hereafter cited as Room.

2. See, e.g., Rosemary Pitt, "The Exploration of Self in Heart of Darkness and Woolf's The Voyage Out," Conradiana10 (1978): 141-54. For a more detailed comparative study of Heart of Darkness and The Voyage Out see Marianne DeKoven, Rich and Strange: Gender, History, Modernism (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1991), 85-138. I comment on DeKoven's book at the end of this essay.

3. Virginia Woolf, A Passionate Apprentice: The Early Journals, 1897-1909, ed. Mitchell A. Leaska (San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1990), 312, 313. Although she was not yet married to Leonard Woolf, I most often refer to Virginia Stephen as Woolf, the name by which she is known as a writer, except where confusion with her future husband may arise. For the most part I follow the customary practice in Virginia Woolf criticism of referring to her husband as Leonard.

4. Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness, ed. Robert Kimbrough, 3d ed. (New York: Norton, 1988), 60. Subsequent page references are to this edition.

5. Leonard Woolf, Beginning Again: An Autobiography of the Years 1911 to 1918 (New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1964), 148. For Virginia Woolf's acknowledgment in November 1912 of having read The Village in the Junglesee The Letters of Virginia Woolf, ed. Nigel Nicolson and Joanne Trautmann, 6 vols. (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1975-80), 2:12. Hereafter cited as Letters.

6. Although Mark Hussey observes that "the early fictions of Virginia Woolf (Melymbrosia, The Voyage Out, and Night and Day) and Leonard Woolf (The Village in the Jungle, The Wise Virgins) create a complex structure of comments upon one another and upon the issues of affectivity, engagement, marriage, and passion in which their authors were themselves so caught up between 1906 and 1919," he is interested in Night and Day as a response to The Wise Virgins, not in The Voyage Out and The Village in the Jungle ("Refractions of Desire: The Early Fiction of Virginia and Leonard Woolf," Modern Fiction Studies38 [1992]: 127). Both Natania Rosenfeld and Theresa M. Thompson compare The Village in the Jungle and The Voyage Out, but neither addresses the former's influence on the latter (Rosenfeld, Outsiders Together: Virginia and Leonard Woolf [Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2000]; Thompson, "Confronting Modernist Racism in the Post-Colonial Classroom: Teaching Virginia Woolf's The Voyage Out and Leonard Woolf's The Village in the Jungle," in Re: Reading, Re: Writing, Re: Teaching Virginia Woolf: Selected Papers from the Fourth Annual Conference on Virginia Woolf, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, June 9-12, 1994, ed. Eileen Barrett and Patricia Cramer [New York: Pace University Press, 1995], 241-50). George Spater and Ian Parsons write as if the couple never read one another's work (A Marriage of True Minds: An Intimate Portrait of Leonard and Virginia Woolf [New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1977]). Peter F. Alexander notes that when Leonard and Virginia were finishing their novels, they were living in the same house on Brunswick Square on separate floors; they "would each write about 500 words in the morning and spend the afternoon walking, sitting in parks and talking about their work." But he then argues that Virginia could only have influenced Leonard, not vice versa, because the "form and content [of The Voyage Out] were fixed long before Leonard entered her life" (Leonard and Virginia Woolf: A Literary Partnership [New York: St. Martin's, 1992], 72, 73). Lyndall Gordon writes in a similar vein: "Although she completed two drafts of The Voyage Outafter her engagement, they were the last of numerous drafts and not much affected by the new relationship" (Virginia Woolf: A Writer's Life [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1984], 109).

7. See Louise A. DeSalvo, ed., introduction to Melymbrosia: An Early Version of "The Voyage Out" (New York: New York Public Library, 1982), xii-xliv; and DeSalvo, Virginia Woolf's First Voyage: A Novel in the Making (Totowa, N.J.: Rowman and Littlefield, 1980), 8, 75. Elizabeth Heine has also done extensive work on these revisions ("The Earlier Voyage Out: Virginia Woolf's First Novel," Bulletin of Research in the Humanities82 [1979]: 294-316; "New Light on Melymbrosia," in Virginia Woolf Miscellanies: Proceedings of the First Annual Conference on Virginia Woolf, Pace University, New York, June 7-9, 1991, ed. Mark Hussey and Vara Neverow-Turk [New York: Pace University Press, 1992], 227-30). Also invaluable is Heine, "Virginia Woolf's Revisions of The Voyage Out," in The Voyage Out, ed. Elizabeth Heine (London: Hogarth, 1990), 399-463. Often supplementing and correcting DeSalvo, Heine's edition prints important passages missing from Melymbrosia and others cut from late typescripts of The Voyage Out.

8. Of all critics writing on The Voyage Out, only Heine acknowledges the possible influence of Leonard, remarking in passing that "Virginia Woolf's more sympathetic later portrayal of the native village probably also reflects her husband's first novel, The Village in the Jungle" ("Virginia Woolf's Revisions," 435). Although Heine does not explore intertextual relations between the two novels, she often notes how Woolf's relationship with Leonard can be felt in specific revisions (e.g., 402-3, 431, 434-35, 440).

9. In a critique of British colonial ethnography in Sri Lanka, Bruce Kapferer singles out The Village in the Jungle for its unusual empathy with the Sinhalese and Tamil peoples while acknowledging Leonard's expected aloofness as a colonial administrator ("From the Periphery to the Centre: Ethnography and the Critique of Anthropology in Sri Lanka," in Localizing Strategies: Regional Traditions of Ethnographic Writing, ed. Richard Fardon [Edinburgh: Scottish Academic; Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1990], 280-302).

10. Virginia Woolf, The Voyage Out (London: Penguin, 1992), 244. Subsequent page references are to this edition.

11. "Mr Conrad: A Conversation," in The Essays of Virginia Woolf, ed. Andrew McNeillie, 3 vols. (San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1986-88), 3:378. Hereafter cited as Essays. Woolf took the phrase from a passage in Lord Jim, which she cites in her 1917 review of the novel (Essays, 2:142). See n. 33.

12. Woolf later returned more caustically to the gender politics of the piano in connection with the plight of "the educated man's daughter": "It was with a view to marriage that she tinkled on the piano, but was not allowed to join an orchestra" (Three Guineas [New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1938], 37, 38).

13. "Jane Austen," in Essays, 2:11.

14. Virginia Woolf, "Jane Austen," in The Common Reader, First Series, ed. Andrew McNeillie (San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1984), 144, 143. Hereafter cited as "Jane Austen."

15. "The mind receives a myriad impressions—trivial, fantastic, evanescent, or engraved with the sharpness of steel. From all sides they come, an incessant show of innumerable atoms. . . . Life is not a series of gig-lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end. Is it not the task of the novelist to convey this varying, this unknown and uncircumscribed spirit [?]" (Woolf, "Modern Fiction," in Common Reader, 150).

16. For Astradur Eysteinsson, such an aesthetic of interruption is fundamental to modernism (The Concept of Modernism [Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1990]).

17. Katherine Mansfield, review of Night and Day, Athenaeum, 21 November 1919, rpt. in Virginia Woolf: The Critical Heritage, ed. Robin Majumdar and Allen McLaurin (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1975), 80, 79-80, 82.

18. The Diary of Virginia Woolf, ed. Anne Olivier Bell, 5 vols. (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1978-84), 1:316. Hereafter cited as Diary.

19. Woolf's essay on Gibbon not only reveals her deeply mixed response to The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire but makes clear that she must have relished the irony in attributing a repressive effect to so subversive a writer ("The Historian and 'the Gibbon,'" in The Collected Essays of Virginia Woolf, ed. Leonard Woolf, 4 vols. [New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1966-67], 1:115-23).

20. Given that Woolf toned herself down in revision, it makes sense that Rachel's performance at the dance is already substantially present in Melymbrosiaand that the scene of reading Gibbon, which rechannels the innovative energies of the earlier scene, is barely developed.

21. See "Mr Conrad: A Conversation," 378; "Mr Conrad's Crisis," in Essays, 2:227; and "Mr Conrad's 'Youth,'" in Essays, 2:158.

22. Elleke Boehmer discusses the Conradian qualities in Leonard's letters home from Ceylon between 1905 and 1911 and in his later short story, "Pearls and Swine," published in 1921 but drafted as early as 1912 ("'Immeasurable Strangeness' in Imperial Times: Leonard Woolf and W. B. Yeats," in Modernism and Empire, ed. Howard J. Booth and Nigel Rigby [Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2000], esp. 95-98, 104-6).

23. E. F. C. Ludowyk, introduction to The Village in the Jungle, by Leonard Woolf (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1981), ix. Subsequent page references are to this edition.

24. See Leonard Woolf, "Conrad's Vision: The Illumination of Romance," English Literature in Transition36 (1993): 286-302. For commentary on the lecture and Leonard's interest in Conrad see J. H. Stape, "The Critic As Autobiographer: Conrad under Leonard Woolf's Eyes," English Literature in Transition36 (1993): 277-85.

25. Hermione Lee, Virginia Woolf (London: Chatto and Windus, 1996), 326.

26. Woolf repeated the sentiment a week later to Katherine Cox: "I'm glad you liked Leonard's novel—(you can't see how insincerely I say that. . . .)" (Letters, 2:19).

27. Woolf's anxious competitiveness was not confined to her relations with male authors. She confided to her diary that after Mansfield's review of Night and Day she had refused to review the latest volume in Dorothy Richardson's Pilgrimagesequence: "If she's good then I'm not" (Diary, 1:315).

28. For Woolf's thoughts about Conrad's foreignness see also Diary, 2:49.

29. For one of many examples see the transformation of an incidental Conradian cadence into a complex allusion in Woolf's revision of the scene in which Helen reads aloud a letter from Rachel's father (Melymbrosia, 144; Voyage Out, 180). Underlying the revised passage is the scene in Heart of Darkness in which Marlow first encounters the Chief Accountant (21-22).

30. Woolf's 1917 essay on Lord Jim suggests that such descriptions made a deep impression on her: "The sea and tropical forests dominate us and almost overpower us" (Essays, 2:143).

31. Woolf may have gleaned this odd detail about olive trees coated with lime or whitewash to protect them against pests from a tiresome man she had met in Florence who bored her with agricultural talk (Passionate Apprentice, 397), or she may have seen it for herself during her 1909 trip to Italy and Greece.

32. Heine suggests that in "the expansion of Rachel's character that occurs in the later typescript, it is much more apparent than in the finished novel that Virginia Woolf is adding her own new sexual knowledge to Rachel's consciousness, or subconsciousness"; she also notes that in revision some of Woolf's trees become "more phallic and mythically ritualistic" ("Virginia Woolf's Revisions," 435, 439).

33. Of Marlow's moment of revelation in response to the French lieutenant in Lord Jim, Woolf wrote: "That, so it strikes us, is the way in which Mr Conrad's mind works; he has a 'moment of vision' in which he sees people as if he had never seen them before; he expounds the vision, and we see it, too. These visions are the best things in his books" (Essays, 2:142). Oddly, T. S. Eliot, who wrote that removing the figure of the strong, isolated European male from Conrad's novels would yield the equivalent of Woolf's, missed this fundamental connection between the two: "Elle n'illumine pas par éclairs soudains mais répand une lumière douce et tranquille" [She does not illuminate with sudden flashes but casts a soft, gentle light] ("Les lettres anglaises: Le roman anglais contemporain," Nouvelle revue française28 [1927]: 673).

34. See Roger Poole, The Unknown Virginia Woolf, 4th ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), 74-78; and Alexander, 73.

35. For the photograph of the costumed pranksters see Quentin Bell, Virginia Woolf: A Biography (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1972), between 140 and 141.

36. Douglas Kerr, "Stories of the East: Leonard Woolf and the Genres of Colonial Discourse," English Literature in Transition41 (1998): 272, 270, 273.

37. James Clifford, "On Ethnographic Self-Fashioning: Conrad and Malinowski," in The Predicament of Culture: Twentieth-Century Ethnography, Literature, and Art (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1988), 100, 99.

38. Pepper's name alone seems to have triggered a Conradian digression when Woolf was engaged in her most Conradian revisions. In chapter 7 a random remark by Pepper leads to a historical reverie on English trading vessels that recalls Marlow's rhapsody in Lord Jim on the lost heroism of the pepper traders.

39. In Beginning Again Leonard writes that around the time of his marriage to Virginia, Conrad, Galsworthy, and Wells were major figures, "but Hardy stood by himself, an Olympian surviving from a previous age" (123). He also felt that Hardy had no peer in the representation of poor villagers (67), which suggests, as Kerr speculates, that he would have turned to Hardy as a model for representing the Sinhalese in The Village in the Jungle.

40. For a reading of these scenes in the context of turn-of-the-century exhibitionary culture see my "Woolf, Picture Postcards, and the Elision of Race: Colonizing Women in The Voyage Out," Modernism/Modernity8 (2001): 43-75.

41. For a detailed reading of the lesbian subtext in this and other scenes see Patricia Smith, "'The Things People Don't Say': Lesbian Panic in The Voyage Out," in Virginia Woolf: Lesbian Readings, ed. Eileen Barrett and Patricia Cramer (New York: New York University Press, 1997), 133-40.

42. The "undulating" field of the journal appears more distinctly in a canceled typescript version of the scene in which Helen runs through "the waving ground" to reach Rachel. See Heine, "Virginia Woolf's Revisions," 440.

43. D. H. Lawrence, Women in Love (London: Penguin, 1995), 12.

44. Cf. Michael H. Levenson, A Genealogy of Modernism: A Study of English Literary Doctrine, 1908-1922 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984): "Vague terms still signify. Such is the case with 'modernism': it is at once vague and unavoidable" (vii).

45. See Bonnie Kime Scott, ed., Gender of Modernism: A Critical Anthology (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990).

46. Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar, No Man's Land: The Place of the Woman Writer in the Twentieth Century, 3 vols. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1988-94).

47. Bonnie Kime Scott, Women of 1928, vol. 1 of Refiguring Modernism (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1995), xvi-xliii.

48. For a representative example see Karen Lawrence, "Joyce and Feminism," in The Cambridge Companion to James Joyce, ed. Derek Attridge (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), 237-58.

49. See Julia Kristeva, Revolution in Poetic Language, trans. Margaret Waller (New York: Columbia University Press, 1984).

50. In a particularly suggestive sequence, Rachel castigates Helen as "lazy" and "only half alive" when she balks at the idea of an expedition upriver (248); then, as they walk side by side, an ambiguous pronoun reference introducing a sequence of free indirect discourse momentarily conflates the two women, as if the speculations of Helen-Rachel about the existence of a "profound and reasonless law . . . moulding them all to its liking" were being enacted in the merging of their thoughts (249).

51. Makiko Minow-Pinkney draws on Julia Kristeva's appropriation of Jacques Lacan's distinction between the semiotic and the symbolic to trace the emergence in Woolf of an écriture féminine dialectically engaged with the semiotic (Virginia Woolf and the Problem of the Subject [Brighton: Harvester, 1987]). Minow-Pinkney does not discuss The Voyage Out.

52. Suzette Henke, "Language, Memory, Desire," in Virginia Woolf: Emerging Perspectives: Selected Papers from the Third Annual Conference on Virginia Woolf, Lincoln University, Jefferson City, MO, June 10-13, 1993, ed. Vara Neverow-Turk and Mark Hussey (New York: Pace University Press, 1994), 107.

53. Virginia Woolf, "Professions for Women," in The Death of the Moth, and Other Essays (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1942), 237; Woolf, The Pargiters: The Novel-Essay Portion of "The Years," ed. Mitchell A. Leaska (London: Hogarth, 1977), xxix-xxx.

54. Virginia Woolf, Between the Acts (San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1969), 188.

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1527-1943
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2003-03-12
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