Authority on the Margin: The Informal Essays of Virginia Woolf, Natsume Soseki, and Zhou Zuoren

Authority on the Margin: The Informal Essays of Virginia Woolf, Natsume Soseki, and Zhou Zuoren

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This study looks at how the genre of informal essays responds to the crisis of modernity by examining A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf (1882-1941), Inside My Glass Doors (garasudo no uchi) by Natsume Soseki (1867-1915), and Our Garden (ziji de yuandi) by Zhou Zuoren (1885-1967). By first analyzing each essayist within his or her own tradition, I identify stylistic and thematic changes. I then use the nexus of modernity to compare the three contemporary authors. Woolf taps into her tradition for a strategy of writing herself in a privileged position on the periphery, not as an individual although she does emphasis this point, but rather as a female writer in a world of male literature. Such a position then allows her to write against the literary society while at the same time commenting on it. Soseki finds the essay a place where he can indulge in personal reminiscence while Zhou seeks to deepen his own individualism. Both Soseki and Zhou present themselves as being outside or peripheral to mainstream society. They place emphasis on the individual, rather than the national, and on the uniqueness of artistic vision rather than the necessity of the national unity. All three authors are similar in their claim that the autonomy of the author is the most important aspect of writing in modernity.Such a position then allows her to write against the literary society while at the same time commenting on it. Soseki finds the essay a place where he can indulge in personal reminiscence while Zhou seeks to deepen his own individualism.


Title:Authority on the Margin: The Informal Essays of Virginia Woolf, Natsume Soseki, and Zhou Zuoren
Author: Daniel Dee Baird
Publisher: - 2006
ISBN-13:

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