Drawing upon recent archipelagic approaches to the literature and history of the British Isles, this essay examines Virginia Woolf’s use of the Isle of Skye as a setting for her 1927 novel To the Lighthouse in the context of shifting cultural and cartographic dimensions of Britishness. It argues that Woolf’s equation of synchronic time, water, and the landscape of the Scottish Hebrides expresses an important turning point in England’s imperial-oceanic sensibility, including the ways in which “Britishness” was conceived relative to a devolving archipelago. Ultimately, Woolf’s novel relies upon a paradoxical construction of Scotland as both a primitive colonial hinterland and an utterly familiar, necessary component of British identity in the wake of Irish independence.
Twentieth Century Literature
Pearson, Nels C., "Recovering Islands: Scotland, Ocean, and Archipelago in To the Lighthouse" (2018). English Faculty Publications. 139.
Pearson, Nels. "Recovering Islands: Scotland, Ocean, and Archipelago in To the Lighthouse." Twentieth Century Literature 64.3 (2018): 347-370. https://doi.org/10.1215/0041462X-7142083