restricted access "A trick of the mind": Alterity, Ontology, and Representation in Virginia Woolf's The Waves

Within a theoretical framework linking Julia Kristeva's subject-in-process to the ethical philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas, this paper links the novel's metaphor of subjectivity to language, history and social convention through a reading of the character Bernard. It highlights the symbolic nature of totality as expressed in Bernard's narrative, with language, history and convention grouped together as the home of the singular self, and the decentering of this self achieved through the problematization of representation, teleology and social structures. Associated questions of the violence and ethics of representation, subjectivity and the writer's task are also addressed.