The Making of Beauty: Aesthetic Spaces in the Fiction of D. H. Lawrence, Muriel Spark, and Virginia Woolf
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This dissertation rethinks textual images of the other’s beauty, depicted in works by D. H. Lawrence, Muriel Spark, and Virginia Woolf, whose fascination with the other, called by this dissertation the beloved, urged them to inscribe the beloved’s original beauty in texts. Their works make perceptible the singularity of the beloved, while revealing the writers’ predicament in translating the beloved’s ineffability in texts. Taking the untranslatability of the beloved into consideration, this dissertation traces the ways in which these writers’ texts capture the beloved’s original beauty at moments of revelation, related to epiphanies entering the terrain of literary modernism. My study thereby scrutinizes the dynamics of images of beauty and their impacts on art and politics in the context of modernism. In doing so, I argue that the texts I consider express the beloved’s singularity in challenge of the beautified images that many other artists invented for self-directed purposes in the early and mid-twentieth century. First, I explore Lawrence’s creation of aesthetic spaces in Lady Chatterley’s Lover (1928) in keeping with his desire for making palpable visual spectacles through the text. Analyzing how this ambition helped to create the novel’s aesthetic scenes, I would like to define Lawrence as an aesthete whose aspiration lay in expressing the beauty of things. Then, I discuss Spark’s affection for her characters and her desire to visualize the figure’s originality in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1961) and The Girls of Slender Means (1963). Considering Spark in relation to both modernists and Fascists, I propose that her making of the image of her character breaks away from Fascism’s aestheticization of human figures. Finally, I investigate Woolf’s love for words by focusing on “The Duchess and the Jeweller” (1938), a short story written for expressing various modes of beauty in words. Drawing to the represented link between words and smell, considered the most “wasteful” sense, I examine how the sensory medium makes perceptible intrinsic qualities of words, and argues that her depiction of words, linked to smell, reveals the anti-utilitarian nature of words, unconstrained by a craftsman’s manipulation of words.
Lee, Joori (2013). The Making of Beauty: Aesthetic Spaces in the Fiction of D. H. Lawrence, Muriel Spark, and Virginia Woolf. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from