By S. Rosenbaum
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Additional info for Aspects of Bloomsbury: Studies in Modern English Literary and Intellectual History
The Boeuf en Daube is as real as the subjective anxieties of its eaters. 'Subject and object and the nature of reality' is the philosophical basis of the party; the nature of reality appears not only in the individual awarenesses and what they are aware of but also more generally in the dualism that is symbolised throughout the novel in images of light and water. The lighthouse surrounded by the sea is an unmistakable example, but not only the lighthouse. When the candles are lit at the party, the characters become aware of the contrast of 'order and dry land' inside, and 'outside, a reflection in which things wavered and vanished, waterily'.
Yet here too philosophical realism shapes the novel. In Virginia Woolf's fifth novel we have for the first and last time a major character who is a philosopher. Despite this fact the philosophy in the novel has been overlooked because To the Lighthouse is also Virginia Woolf's most autobiographical novel. Mr Ramsay has been recognised as a philosopher only insofar as Leslie Stephen was one. With the evidence of Virginia Woolf's diary and Stephen's own 'sentimental autobiography'36 it is as certain as these things ever are that Mr Ramsay is a close portrait of the author's father, just as Mrs Ramsay is modelled on her mother.
Russell's quick and wide receptivity to the ideas of his time makes the sources of his thought difficult to gauge with any definiteness. Similar difficulties occur in the attempt to determine the influence of Russell's ideas on his contemporaries. 9 Russell's work in epistemology, on the other hand, might have had discoverable literary implications - as G. E. Moore's did for the Bloomsbury Group - but perhaps because of Moore's influence, Russell's work actually had no literary impact. Russell does deserve a place in the canon of English literature as a master of expository prose.
Aspects of Bloomsbury: Studies in Modern English Literary and Intellectual History by S. Rosenbaum