Virginia Woolf seems to have agreed with Georg Lukács about the static quality of details in turn-of-the century fiction: she too condemned the pictorialism that transformed human subjects and their environments into “still lives.” Her own details are anything but static: they are always in motion, zooming in and zooming out, demanding close observation while also enlarging the frame to the global impact of war or the marginalization of women. Woolf uses details dynamically to move between material objects and human minds, and also to move across scales, and thus produces a specifically narrative theory of the detail. This is also a political theory: the fact that she places large and small side by side, often in the same sentence, speaks to her commitment to tracing connections between the particular and the abstract, the mundane and the mystical, the internal world of thoughts and feelings and the external world of actions.

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