Orlando, Greece and the impossible landscape

Kolocotroni, V. (2018) Orlando, Greece and the impossible landscape. In: Högberg, E. and Bromley, A. (eds.) Sentencing Orlando: Virginia Woolf and the Morphology of the Modernist Sentence. Edinburgh University Press: Edinburgh. ISBN 9781474414609

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Orlando’s Greek pastoral idyll is a brief but crucial stage of her travels and travails homeward and into the present day. In transit between identities and divested of her title and cultural position, she finds herself the guest of a nomadic tribe who tend but do not own the ancient land which accommodates them. Her passage through Northern Greece is significantly located: setting one of Orlando’s transformative epiphanies against the backdrop of Mount Athos, a site of gender exclusion, Woolf casts Orlando in the role of an unwitting interloper, trespassing on time and tradition, once again, and formatively, out of place. The episode hones Orlando’s poetic disposition but also homes in on the ambivalent effects of one of its tested tropes – on the Greek mountain, Orlando both embodies and deploys the allegorical mode. As a woman (hidden amongst the gypsies and under her ‘light burnous’), she is at once the emblem of an impossibility, a female creature on a sacred, forbidding all-male space, and of the very possibility of trespassing that space, on her way home. At the same time, as a pastoral poet, exercising the license allegory affords, she claims her own patrimony in a vision of renewed ownership, transformed by the passing of time and gender privilege. This essay glosses the effect and provenance of this allegorical trope through a brief account of Woolf’s Harrisonian Hellenism and her own passage through the Greek landscape, considered here in the light of Denis E. Cosgrove’s foundational definition: ‘landscape represents a way of seeing – a way in which some Europeans have represented to themselves and to others the world about them and their relationships with it, and through which they have commented on social relations’.

Item Type:Book Sections
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Kolocotroni, Dr Vassiliki
Authors: Kolocotroni, V.
Subjects:P Language and Literature > PR English literature
College/School:College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > English Literature
Publisher:Edinburgh University Press
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