Sunday, June 14, 2020

Woolf's chair; Kafka's window; Joyce's street

One conclusion in my course on short fiction by James Joyce, Franz Kafka, and Virginia Woolf is that the three authors all take up a characteristic position in their stories: Woolf in a chair; Kafka at a window; Joyce in the street. Kafka is thus in the position dubbed "the watcher at the window" by Henry James, which can also be connected to Michel Foucault on Jeremy Bentham's panopticon. Joyce's position is that of Charles Baudelaire's "flaneur". Woolf's chair surely stands in "a room of one's own", but as one student suggested, the chair is also the position of René Descartes, given how her characters spin out philosophies from their chairs. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 14 June)

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