This blog is a combination of information compiled as an element of a seminar course revolving around Virginia Woolf.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A Critical Commentary on Edward Bishop

In his critical essay attempting to describe “it” through the vivid interpretation of Virginia Woolf’s Kew Gardens, Edward Bishop seems to reveal a personal respect for what he likes to call Woolf’s ‘voice.’ Although his feelings towards Woolf’s scholarship are never directly stated, it becomes clear to the reader that Bishop’s critique is rather a praise of Woolf’s ability to merge language and reality. Highlighting some of the most influential portions of the text, Bishop develops and displays Woolf’s ability to capture ‘it’ which he dubs the natural and the human world of the garden. One portion of Bishop’s critic that sparks particular interest is his immediate separation between the natural and the human world. For most, the natural and human worlds seem to be one undivided entity, but Bishop makes the assumption that they are in fact two very separate groups. Although this is apparent in Woolf’s Kew Gardens, it is ambitious of Bishop to recognize Woolf ‘s immediate separation between the two worlds. For Woolf, humanity seems to need support from nature, as it is the weaker and somewhat less enlightening of the two realms.

Throughout the course of Bishop’s commentary, he chooses to include a series of additional quotations from other critics. The critics seem to have a positive view of Kew Gardens and thus correlate well with one another. Bishop notes that while many of the mentioned authors have attempted to describe the “luminous halo” that Woolf creates; most have failed to completely realize the depth of her work as it stems from the operation of language. Next, Bishop provides an example of Woolf’s ability to scaffold internal and external action. By using the couple’s movement within Kew Gardens as an example, Bishop simply immerses the reader in what Woolf is actually trying to portray. Rather than using complex language to try and explain the situation, he maps the concept in a visual way and thus the reader gains a clearer image of the perspective Woolf subtly incorporates within the text. Bishop should be praised for his ability to portray the duality involved in many of Woolf’s images.

Although enlightening in many senses, Pursuing “IT” Through Kew Gardens lacks the depth often seen in many critical articles. Although Bishop does a great job exploring Woolf’s concepts, he seems to simply skim the surface of Woolf’s ability to contour language. More detail and a few additional textual examples may have strengthened Bishop’s argument in defining “it.” Negativity may also stem from Bishop’s inability to remove personal perspectives from view. Clearly, he is a Virginia Woolf fan (which is fine), but a critical article may gain more respect if it incorporates more fact and less emotion. Ignoring the minor qualms regarding the article, Pursuing IT Through Kew Gardens is an enlightening source of commentary.

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