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Additional resources for A Fractured Landscape of Modernity: Culture and Conflict in the Isle of Purbeck

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120 Studland Beach suggests, however, a sense of failure in advance of the cataclysm of war. Woolf would retrospectively date the breaking of the mirror to the “other thing”, the twin horrors of the deaths of family members and the indiscriminate slaughter of the trenches. But the space of the beach already registers, for Bell, the inability of “nature” to provide either the anchoring point of a classical perspective, dissolved as this is into the relativity of an environment, or a prospect of infinity which mirrors the self.

Her latter two Dorset novels, 43 44 A Fractured Landscape of Modernity Armed With Madness (1928) and its sequel Death of Felicity Taverner (1932), both recognisably feature the house and its surroundings, described by Butts in a letter to Glenway Westcott in 1923 as a ‘place where a wood shaped like a narrow fan runs up from the sea. 5 The house and its “sacred wood” is set in a bowl cut off from the outside world by double ramparts: a ridge of limestone that curves behind it and sweeps east to Swyre Head, and a chalk down beyond that, studded with tumuli and a hill fort.

The novel’s central section, ‘Time Passes’, forms a kind of narrative intermission that records the effects of unexpected deaths and of the First World War more broadly on the Ramsay family and their summer house by the sea. In a plan for a book of stories written in her notebook in 1925, Woolf foreshadows the second and third sections of To the Lighthouse: ‘& then the other thing would/loom up; & we should step into quite a/different place & people? ’103 This “other thing” is the war, and the experimental structure of ‘Time Passes’ testifies to Woolf’s search for a form appropriate to this altered world.

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