Virginia Woolf's first novel, The Voyage Out, disputes the manner in which its characters appropriate literary texts for their political interests. Woolf delivers this challenge through Rachel Vinrace's ill-fated voyage, which culminates in a series of disorienting encounters in the colony of Santa Marina. These experiences incite a dissociative fugue, a loss of identity precipitated by the flight to a foreign environment, which ends finally in Rachel's death. Her voyage therefore evokes what Benjamin Mangrum describes as the tragedy of modern existence and reveals a complex double bind in which Rachel's art depends upon an imperial, exploitative society. Despite this dire view of modern society, Woolf's subversion of the politics of literature not only disrupts her readers' cultural presuppositions but also posits an alternative. In particular, Woolf confronts the view of literature as a commodity of power with her opposing belief in the mystical and metaphysical possibilities of literary moments.
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Benjamin Mangrum; Silencing the Politics of Literature in Virginia Woolf's The Voyage Out. Genre 1 June 2012; 45 (2): 269–298. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00166928-1574312
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