Annotated Bibliography for To the Lighthouse

Updated June 5, 2002
Created August 14, 1997

1.  Auerbach, Erich.  "The Brown Stocking."  Mimesis.  Princeton, New Jersey:  Princeton University 
	Press, 1946.  16-34.

	Auerbach studies Woolf’s technique of "a chance occasion releasing 
processes of consciousness."  Almost everything is stated by way of 
reflection in the consciousness.  He reviews the first few pages of 
To the Lighthouse and discusses who is speaking; what is reality and what 
is the interior voice?  Auerbach also notices that time is often devoted 
to interludes in the characters’ heads rather than to actual occurrences.  
The exterior events in Lighthouse serve to interpret inner events.

2.  Burt, John.  "Irreconcilable Habits of Thought in A Room of One’s Own 
	and To the Lighthouse."  ELH  49.4 (1982):  889-907.  Rpt.  Bloom 

	Burt links the arguments of Room to the themes of Lighthouse as 
examples of Keatsian negative capability.  He includes an analytical 
summary of the argument of Room and Lighthouse, showing two irreconcilable 
arguments, one progressive, the other nostalgic for the past.  He 
concludes that it is not an argument but "a portrayal of how a mind 
attempts to come to terms with its world" (197).

3.  Cohn, Ruby.  "Art in To the Lighthouse."  Modern Fiction Studies.  
	1962, Summer, 8.2  63-72.  

	Cohn focuses on Lily’s love of Mrs. Ramsay and the fact that Mrs. 
Ramsay cannot take Lily’s art seriously.  "Art needs life to nourish it" 
(65).  Cohn proposes that Mrs. Ramsay is Lily’s nourishment, the life of 
her art.

4.  Dash, Irene, Deena Kushner, and Deborah Moore.  "How Light a 
	Lighthouse for Today’s Women?"  The Lost Traditions:  
	Mothers and Daughters in Literature.  Eds.  Cathy 
	Davidson and E.M. Broner.  New York;  Ungar, 1980.  176-88.

	Dash, Kushner, and Moore examine the challenges women face between 
"being mothers and being artists" (176).  Dash and her daughters (Kushner 
and Moore), discuss the theme of choice from a mother, daughter, and 
artist perspective.

5.  DiBattista, Maria.  "To the Lighthouse:  Virginia Woolf’s Winter’s 
	Tale."  Virginia Woolf:  Revaluation and Continuity.  Eds.  Ralph 
	Freedman and Maria DiBattista.  Berkeley:  University of 
	California Press, 1980.  161-88.  

	DiBattista states that "the centrality of Mrs. Ramsay in To 
the Lighthouse would seem to confirm Woolf’s habit of thinking back through 
her mother" (163).  She parallels the events of To the Lighthouse with 
Woolf’s private rite of passage.  DiBattista states that "the creative 
self, the dutiful daughter, having found her mother and made peace with 
her father, no longer mourns, but is free to dream again" (188).

6.  Levy, Eric.  "Woolf’s Metaphysics of Tragic Vision in To the 
	Lighthouse."  Philological Quarterly.  75:1 (1996):  109-32.  

	Levy states that, "characters display a similar tendency to reduce 
reality to the subjective inquiry concerning it" (110).  He discusses how 
the journey to the lighthouse symbolizes the "tragic vision, where the 
object perceived is the transience of the perceiving subject and the 
tendency of time to efface the structures on which personal stability 
depends" (111).

7.  Lilienfeld, Jane.  "’The Deceptiveness of Beauty’:  Mother Love and 
	Mother Hate in To the Lighthouse."  Twentieth Century Literature.  
	23  (1977):  345-373.

	Lilienfeld discusses the autobiographical elements of To the 
Lighthouse, focusing on the relationship between Lily Briscoe and Mrs. 
Ramsay as an outlet for Woolf’s feelings about her relationship with her 
mother, Julia Stephen.

8.  Lilienfeld, Jane.  "Where the Spear Plants Grew:  The Ramsays’ 
	Marriage in To the Lighthouse." New Feminist Essays on Virginia 
	Woolf.  Ed. Jane Marcus.  Lincoln:  University of Nebraska Press, 
	1981.  148-69. 

	Lilienfeld uses the "tools of feminist criticism" to examine 
Woolf’s vision of the Ramsays’marriage.  She attempts to prove that Woolf 
both celebrates and criticizes it while "making clear the urgency for 
creating new modes of human love and partnership.  She further discusses 
the marriage as an examination of her own parent’s relationship and of the
"destruction wreaked by Victorian social arrangements on human capacities 
for freedom and growth" (149).

9.  Matro, Thomas G.  "Only Relations:  Vision and Achievement in To the 
	Lighthouse."  PMLA 99.2 (1984):  212-224.  

 Matro brings up Roger Fry’s formalist, post-impressionist aesthetic 
principles.  Matro suggests that by using Fry’s aesthetic (with Lily’s 
painting specifically), one can "easily interpret Woolf’s achievement in 
the novel and the achievement of the characters."  He believes that the 
novel "testifies to the truth that permanent values lie not in life but in 
art." Oneness can only be reached through art (Lily’s need to be one with 
Mrs. Ramsay).

10.  Pratt, Annis.  "Sexual Imagery in To the Lighthouse:  A New Feminist 
Approach."  Modern Fiction Studies.  1972.  417-431.

Pratt points out the sections of extreme eroticism in To the Lighthouse.  
She follows the idea that Woolf developed (for Mrs. Ramsay) three 
interrelated sets of sexual imagery to portray a "pseudo-sexual adaptation 
forced upon her by the circumstances of her marriage and times."  Pratt 
suggests that Woolf wanted to cast doubt on the Victorian concept of
woman as beauty-of-the-world.  She gives Mrs. Ramsay both male and female 
sexual characteristics in response to "Mr. Ramsay’s infantile asexuality."  
Pratt also utilizes the thoughts of Carl Jung in parts of her article.

11. Stewart, Jack F.  "Color in To the Lighthouse."  Twentieth Century 
	Literature.  31  (1985): 439-455.

	Stewart sets out to prove that "Woolf’s search for spiritual 
essences is expressed in light and color" with color viewed as a sensitive 
medium for expressing both individual and universal experience.

12.  Stewart, Jack F.  "Light in To the Lighthouse."  Twentieth Century 
	Literature.  23  (1977):  377-388.

	Stewart discusses the essence of the Lighthouse symbol as Light 
itself.  At various points throughout the novel Light is "the positive 
force of visionary consciousness, the negative counterpart of departed 
consciousness, and the reanimation of consciousness in a creative rhythm 
that seeks spiritual and aesthetic Oneness."  He discusses the character 
of Mrs. Ramsay as identifying her being with the light, as well as the 
other characters’ need to draw to her as is shown in the journey to the 

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