Finding a Voice through Cinema: Virginia Woolf’s Jacob’s Room and Evelyn Waugh’s “The Balance”

Yuexi Liu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Woolf’s Jacob’s Room and Waugh’s “The Balance” represent two different versions of modernism and challenge the perception of interior modernism as the dominant form of modernism. Both authors departed from Stern’s middle-distance realism in seeking their distinctive voices: Woolf in close-up, in an emphasis on interior modernism; Waugh in long shot, which I consider as “exterior modernism”. Interestingly, the intersection of these two in the early twenties reveals Woolf at her most exterior and Waugh at his most interior and thus problematises the conceptual framework within which they are often situated. I examine their respective work through a consideration of cinema, which was essential to both writers’ search for their own voices: however ambiguous Woolf’s attitude towards cinema, her writing style was unequivocally cinematic; Waugh, confident in his knowledge of cinema, incorporated the medium to help forge his unique style. While cinema was Waugh’s method, Woolf seemed to be only interested in the cinema eye.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)608-623
Number of pages16
JournalEnglish Studies
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 18 Aug 2017
Externally publishedYes

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