The "proper stuff" of biography : Woolf and the problem of the other in Jacob's Room and Orlando.
Access changed 6/27/13.
In the following thesis, I will examine Virginia Woolf's often contentious views concerning the theory and execution of biography. By focusing on the epistemology adumbrated in her essays and fiction, I will argue that the problem of biography, particularly the inability of the biographer to truly "know" the biographee, as is handedly demonstrated in the novel Jacob’s Room, is for Woolf intractable. Her only solution is to introduce the foreign and ultimately destructive element of fiction; for it is only by means of fiction, Woolf contends, that the biographer can approximate the unwieldy and evanescent kind of "life" the biography purports to illuminate. However, the introduction of fiction into the fact-grounded biography brings with it its own set of epistemological problems, namely, the superimposition of the biographer’s own sense of life onto that of the biographee, thus adulterating the biography with traces of autobiography.