An examination of the uses to which time as a formal principle is employed in selected works of Joseph Conrad, James Joyce, and Virginia Woolf

Forde, Clifford S (1981). An examination of the uses to which time as a formal principle is employed in selected works of Joseph Conrad, James Joyce, and Virginia Woolf. MPhil thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000f946

Abstract

The following study examines the way in which a preoccupation with time is reflected in selected works of Conrad, Joyce and Virginia Woolf.

The first part of the Conrad section serves as an introduction to time in the narrative, by examining the assumptions underlying the time scheme of the Victorian novel. Conrad's use of the time shift and of the 'unreliable narrator' in Heart of Darkness and Lord Jim are then considered as devices for questioning those assumptions and advancing a more complex notion of the individual's sense of identity. The last part of this section examines Conrad's notion of 'destiny', particularly as it relates to his use of the time shift in Nostromo.

The study next focuses on Joyce's use of the 'epiphany' and traces its employment as an 'arrested moment' in Dubliners to its function as a moment of heightened awareness within consciousness in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Then, both the Portrait and Ulysses are considered separately as manifesting a vivid sense of time through the consciousness of Bloom and Stephen Dedalus. This section concludes with the argument put forward that n the relationship between Ulysses and its Homeric counterpart is to be sought in the identification of the artist with his work. Hence Ulysses is a celebration of the creative imagination throughout history.

In the Virginia Woolf section, the first part examines her atomistic notion of experience as it relates to personal identity, and sees her argument with the "materialists" enacted in Mrs. Dalloway and To the Lighthouse in the conflict of characters. The second part contrasts external representations of time in these novels with subjective time in the flux of consciousness. The last part of the section looks at the way in which certain unifying patterns in the novel are related to
Virginia Woolf's "moments of being".

Finally, the Conclusion briefly examines the way in which these writers manipulate language and form in order to give the reader a more than usual awareness of the text.

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