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McNamara, S. (2011). Seduction and Revenge in Virginia Woolf's Orlando. Psychoanal Q., 80(3):619-641.

(2011). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 80(3):619-641

Seduction and Revenge in Virginia Woolf's Orlando

Susan McNamara

Virginia Woolf's Orlando was characterized by Nigel Nicolson as a “charming love letter” to his mother, Vita Sackville-West. The fictional biography was actually an attempt by Woolf to organize herself after the unbearable humiliation of Vita's abandoning her for another woman. In imagining, writing, and publishing Orlando, Woolf turns her despair about Vita's betrayal into a monument of revenge, defending against disorganizing feelings of humiliation, powerlessness, rage, and loss by creating her own scathing portrait of Vita. In the novel, Woolf also intermittently merges herself with Orlando/Vita to create a permanent tie to the woman who—like her mother and sister—excited and rejected her.

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