There are people who, when they travel, wrap themselves up [ ] in silence and suspicion. They travel only to return. [ ] We should start without any fixed idea where we are going to spend the night, or when we propose to come back; the journey is everything.
This quote from Virginia Woolf s essay on Montaigne is an appropriate epitaph for my analysis of movement and travelling in some of Woolf s short stories and essays.
Travelling and movement can offer inspiration and the opportunity to see the world from a different perspective. While travelling, one should not care too much about the goal of the journey, but enjoy travelling and the experiences connected to it.
The aspect of travelling and movement has been analysed to some extent in Woolf s novels, but there are not many critical texts about movement in the essays and short-stories yet. If one still does find critical texts about this topic, one is bound to discover that almost the only aspect of movement which receives critical attention is flânerie. In this thesis, I will show that Woolf s moments of motion are much more dazzling and multifaceted than that. Another topic which has not received much critical attention yet is movement in the country, and this will be a sub-category in my study. However, my most important goal is argue that these texts are characterised by a constant interplay between the self and others evoked by the journeys, and that reading the texts in this light might lead to a greater understanding of them. The self is changed or played upon through the journeys and the protagonists experiment with identities, approving or discarding them. My primary concern is actual physical movement, or rather, physical movement is a starting-point from which inner movements like developments, thoughts and feelings evolve. I will study both protagonists who find their real selves through solitary movement or travelling, and journeys into and through irrationality, which affect the self in a sometimes frightening, sometimes liberating way. Travelling protagonists meet people on their way and identify with them to a different extent. Another important topic is fellowship, because travelling together influences the self and strengthens the sense of belonging.
Another interest of mine is how Woolf moves between the genres: She cannot be fixed to the essay/short story-dichotomy, she also develops her ideas in other genres. Examples would be the travel narrative, the literary portrait or visual writing, fictional biography and lyrical prose.