Abstract

Abstract:

Rebecca West’s obscure, out-of-print novel Harriet Hume (1929) illustrates the correspondences between high modernism and the spiritual knowledges supposedly dispelled by discourses of Enlightenment modernity. West’s interest in telepathy, as a phenomenon that affirms the permeability of psychic boundaries and the entangled nature of consciousness, not only illustrates the persistence of spiritualism within the cultural imaginary of modernism but also the affinities between these spiritual knowledges and modernist literary form. By connecting West’s feminist modernist practices to turn-of-the century investigations of telepathy offered by psychical researcher F. W. H. Myers, I argue that telepathy is as close as possible to a metaphor for West’s writing, insofar as it models a receptivity to other minds that is central to the aesthetic and feminist imperatives of her fiction. Using telepathy as a lens with which to perform a feminist reading of the capabilities of the modernist novel, this essay illustrates how telepathy’s utopian vision of consciousness offers a feminist framework for imagining modes of relation that are intersubjective and non-hierarchical.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1934-1512
Print ISSN
0039-3827
Pages
pp. 543-562
Launched on MUSE
2018-12-14
Open Access
No
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