This paper aims to read the modernist status of the poetics and writings of Eliot and Woolf in light of a shared keen awareness of fragmentation, a highly relational sensibility, and a need to reconstitute fragments into totality through specific “echo” devices. My analytical focus will be on how both writers thematize the echo as a leitmotif while simultaneously using it as a formal tool, specifically in To The Lighthouse and Four Quartets. This interest in the echo as an instrument for achieving totality recalls both a Coleridgean sense of organic unity and Frank’s idea of spatial form, while also revealing a parallelism between the two writers’ differing interart inclinations, thus allowing for a correspondence between Eliot’s attraction to the musical code and Woolf’s preference for the visual one. Conclusions will be drawn by shifting attention to a development that points to an eventual divergence. While Eliot’s religiously-grounded belief in the remedial power of echoic formal strategies confirms the possibility of restoring totality, Woolf’s ultimately questions the existence of this remedial echo, testifying to its disappea rance. Finally, I will argue that, although this increasingly thematized nihilistic fragmentation clearly reflects a postmodernist ontology, Woolf’s form remains echoic and still preserves totality.
Stevanato, S. (2022). “Fragmentation and Totality: Eliot, Woolf, and ‘Worshipping the Echo’”. MEROPE, 76, 41-60.