This essay examines Virginia Woolf’s negotiation of political and aesthetic commitments in the 1930s, reassessing her revisions of The Years away from explicit political critique in the context of the Woolfs’ trip to Germany, the release of Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will, and the bombing of Madrid during the Spanish Civil War. Tracing a homology between a literal aerial perspective, a totalizing narrative voice, political propaganda, and despotism, this essay argues that Woolf embedded her critique of tyranny within the novel’s form. With two narrative perspectives, the novel undercuts the allure of totalizing knowledge without itself propagandizing.


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