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Greene, E.L. (1987). American Imago. XL, 1983: Virginia Woolf's "To the Lighthouse": Syntax and the Female Center. Martin Gliserman. Pp. 51-101.. Psychoanal Q., 56:422-423.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: American Imago. XL, 1983: Virginia Woolf's "To the Lighthouse": Syntax and the Female Center. Martin Gliserman. Pp. 51-101.

(1987). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 56:422-423

American Imago. XL, 1983: Virginia Woolf's "To the Lighthouse": Syntax and the Female Center. Martin Gliserman. Pp. 51-101.

Edward L. Greene

Following the suggestion of Bateson that "redundancies at different levels … in works of art … are a necessary aspect of communicating information," Gliserman carefully examines Woolf's masterpiece and suggests the presence of an almost ubiquitous syntactic pattern. He further indicates that this pattern, in conjunction with the choice of specific language selected by the writer, becomes another unit of meaning directing the reader to a concern with "centers and middles." The meaning Gliserman reads into this abstract pattern concerns the relationship between and within males and females. By means of extensive textual references Gliserman

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demonstrates the frequency of these patterns throughout the work. He then brings into consideration historical and autobiographical facts about Virginia Woolf herself in which these same concerns, patterns, and language emerge quite clearly. The message couched in these patterns is, first, that the writer's feeling of emptiness is ascribed in part to the male who has "violated/stolen/damaged" her insides; second, that females are open to others, embracing and neutralizing the negative destructive force of males; third, that creative endeavor has the function of "converting pain into harmony and beauty" in an attempt to repair the damages experienced earlier in life. And finally, Gliserman sees the message of the entire novel as a kind of "female bravado: proclaiming the power of the female to surround, protect, nurture, create and finally 'surmount the male force.'" This lengthy and detailed work gives care and close attention to precise textual references. This type of linguistic and syntactic analysis might be a useful adjunct to the various recent attempts at more scientific analysis of analytic data.

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Article Citation

Greene, E.L. (1987). American Imago. XL, 1983. Psychoanal. Q., 56:422-423

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