Night and Day

Although Virginia Woolf‘s first novel, The Voyage Out (1915) had tentatively embraced modernist techniques, her second, Night and Day (1919), returned to many Victorian conventions. The young modernist writer Katherine Mansfield thought that Night and Day contained “a lie in the soul” because it failed to refer to the war or recognize what it had meant for fiction.[1] Mansfield’s criticism of Night and Day as “Jane Austen up-to-date” stung Woolf, who, in three of her major modernist novels of the 1920s (Jacob’s Room, Mrs. Dalloway, and To the Lighthouse) grappled with the problem of how to represent the gap in historical experience presented by the war.[2]

  1. ↑ Letter of November 10, 1919, quoted in Samuel Hynes, A War Imagined: the First World War and English Culture (London: Bodley Head, 1990), p. 269.
  2. ↑ This page has been adapted from Pericles Lewis’s Cambridge Introduction to Modernism (Cambridge UP, 2007), p. 112.