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Woolf's AmbiguitiesTonal Modernism, Narrative Strategy, Feminist Precursors$
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Molly Hite

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781501714450

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501714450.001.0001

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What Girls Should Know

What Girls Should Know

The Voyage Out and My Little Sister

(p.110) Chapter 5 What Girls Should Know
Woolf's Ambiguities

Molly Hite

Cornell University Press

This chapter considers novels by Woolf and Robins, published two years apart, on the subject of a Victorian girl’s upbringing. Both concentrate on the demand for “purity” as entailing extreme naivety about the conditions of social life, and both climax with the death of a young woman. But the stories value different kinds of knowledge. Robins constructs a gripping feminist horror story in which sexual slavery is a consequence of keeping girls ignorant of male sexual desire. Woolf is concerned with the impossibility that a young woman can sustain her capacity for aesthetic perception in a society that cannot perceive any female talent but the domestic.

Keywords:   The Voyage Out, My Little Sister, Robins, girls, knowledge, slavery, aesthetic

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