Lily Briscoe and her canvas: Kleinian depression in Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

To the Lighthouse is Virginia Woolf's most autobiographical novel and one which Woolf herself ascertained as her most psychoanalytic tale both in its construction and motivations. Bearing in mind the psychological significance it held for Woolf, this paper seeks to draw attention to Lily Briscoe's canvas as the novel's psychic space as the entrance into the implicit, unthought known (Bollas, 1987) within Lily Briscoe's subjectivity as echoing that of Woolf's own. Travelling (in-)between “the transitional space” (Winnicott, 1971) as engendered by the gap be- tween the novel's overt narrative and Lily Briscoe's canvas, it seeks to venture into the unwritten psychic space separated from the novel's oedipalized landscape. The paper provides a Kleinian reading to bring to light the undercurrents of Kleinian depression in Lily, un-narrated by Woolf but reverberating throughout the novel.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-21
JournalEmotion, Space and Society
Early online date2 Aug 2018
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Kleinian depression
  • Virginia Woolf
  • To the Lighthouse
  • psychoanalysis
  • transitional space
  • unthought known


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