A Specially Tender Piece of Eternity: Virginia Woolf and the Experience of Time

TitleA Specially Tender Piece of Eternity: Virginia Woolf and the Experience of Time
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsPrudente, Teresa
Number of Pages208
PublisherLexington Books
CityLanham, MD
ISBN Number978-0-7391-2555-7

A Specially Tender Piece of Eternity examines Virginia Woolf's treatment of time both as a theme of her works and as an essential element in her experimental narrative techniques. It starts from the individuation and analysis of Woolf's key concepts of moments of being, ecstasy and rapture and builds around these ideas an epistemological inquiry into her treatment of what Paul Ricoeur has defined as a-linear time. By drawing on both stylistic analysis and philosophy, Teresa Prudente investigates the experience of a-linear time in Woolf both as the possibility for the subject to enter a timeless temporal dimension, in Orlando and To the Lighthouse, and as a tragic alteration and separation from reality, in Mrs. Dalloway.

Through the accurate examination of the meta-narrative elements in Woolf's novels, and of her original employment of interior monologue and free indirect speech, Prudente closely relates these two states of extra-temporality to the process of artistic creation. In this sense, Woolf's experiments in narrative are redefined and reassessed in the light of the writer's concern to challenge ineffability in re-creating moments of ecstasy.

About the Author
Teresa Prudente is a research fellow in the department of comparative literature at the University of Turin in Italy.

"A Specially Tender Piece of Eternity is a critically scrupulous and imaginative analysis of Woolf's revolutionary representation of time as non-linear, fluid, fugitive and—at certain 'ecstatic' moments—transcendent. Prudente's somewhat surprising emphasis on the ecstatic foundations of Woolf's representations of everyday sensations and experiences is a welcome contribution to Woolf criticism."—Maria DiBattista, professor of English at Princeton University and author of Imagining Virginia Woolf: An Experiment in Critical Biography

"Teresa Prudente's A Specially Tender Piece of Eternity: Virginia Woolf and the Experience of Time offers a remarkably nuanced analysis of perception, emotion and recollection in Woolf's work. The volume seamlessly intertwines sophisticated philosophical inquiry into the workings of the mind with meticulously close readings of Woolf's To the Lighthouse, Orlando and Mrs. Dalloway, as well as key essays such as "Mr. Bennett and Mrs. Brown" and "The Russian Point of View," and personal writings including "A Sketch of the Past." Significantly deepening our understanding of Woolf's complex fascination with intense states of awareness and the ineffable mystery of time, Prudente deftly traces the links between Woolf's own life-altering experiences and her techniques for infusing her literary work with these revelatory elements of rapture, incandescence, immediacy, and interconnectedness."—Vara Neverow, professor of English at Southern Connecticut State University and past president of the International Virginia Woolf Society