Virginia Woolf’s Chinese Narrative and the Chinese Vogue in V ...

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Virginia Woolf’s mention of China was included implicitly in her essays and novels, ranging from Chinese artifacts, Chinese language and literature, to China the nation. Such variety of reference shows Woolf’s multifaceted concern with China, a country she never had a chance to visit herself. Woolf’s knowledge of China was made possible by her wide reading, and her family and friends who returned from China, but more importantly by the Chinese Vogue in Victorian Britain. This article tries to relate Woolf’s mention of China to the Chinese Vogue in Victorian and modern Britain. After a brief introduction of the history of Chinese Vogue in Britain, I move on to explore how Woolf’s Chinese narrative functions in three ways in her writings, namely, its connection with Victorian middle class fashion, British imperialism, and modernist racial trope. By so doing, I aim to uncover the significance of these narratives in Woolf’s modernist experimentation, and to illuminate how literature and culture interact with each other in a particular way.