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The Empire from the Street: Virginia Woolf, Wembley, and Imperial Monuments

From: MFS Modern Fiction Studies
Volume 50, Number 1, Spring 2004
pp. 85-109 | 10.1353/mfs.2004.0003


This essay attempts to recover the vectors of urban traffic in London as they were charted by way of imperial landmarks, both real and imagined, in Virginia Woolf's writing about the city. Examining her visit to the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley (1924-25) alongside Mrs. Dalloway (1925), I argue that Woolf's novel can be seen as an aesthetic and a political response to the representational dilemmas involved with bringing the empire home and the difficult task of translating global space into local space.