I Meant Nothing by the Lighthouse

Rubenstein, Roberta. “’I Meant Nothing by the Lighthouse’: Virginia Woolf’s Poetics of Negation.” Journal of Modern Literature. Issue (2008): 36-53. Document.

For me, this article seemed to create a relationship between Woolf’s mental illness and her writing. Rubenstein seems to do a great job of detailing Woolf’s illness and description of her condition through the article in addition to exploring the Lighthouse and the relationship between the two. It was a very interesting dynamic that was explored by examining both Woolf’s mental state and the Lighthouse together.

The concept I found most interesting is the idea of disassociation for Woolf. We usually see this idea of disassociation with people who have experienced deep philological trauma which is usually a trigger of some kind. It can also often times be partnered with conditions such as PTSD.

For me, the language was not particularly hard, it was the was the ideas and concepts were presented in the language that I found challenging. I did my best to identify the key concept of Woolf’s mental illness, the Lighthouse and the idea of exploring the two with disassociation, but it was the type of article I needed to read a couple times over to really even start to get a gist of the deeper meaning.


2 thoughts on “I Meant Nothing by the Lighthouse

  1. Hayley Turner says:

    Hi Carson,
    Great post! I thought that you did a great job of summarizing this difficult, scholarly article. It seems as though Rubenstein really took the time to delve into Woolf’s personal life and how it effected her writing (specifically through “To the Lighthouse”). Would you say that this article helped you understand the book better? This article seems to address the “nothing” factor within the book–something that was not very well explained. Props to you for not getting hung up on the scholarly jargon! I have to admit that that was one aspect that was hard for me to get around while reading my article!

    -Hayley Turner


  2. I did not read this article, but I like that you mentioned disassociation as a part of Woolf’s mental issues. I wonder if we can read some of these difficulties she faced her whole life right onto the novel (without being too offensive about it), such as seeing the lighthouse as some kind of end-all dissociative object, etc.


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