On November 7, 1928, Virginia Woolf wrote in her diary that her 1931 novel, The Waves, would be an "abstract mystical eyeless book" (Diaries 3; 203). In her personal writings, she also referred to the novel as "an endeavour at something mystic, spiritual; the thing that exists when we aren't there" (114). From the initial inspiration for the novel to her own notes, Woolf envisioned The Waves to be "spiritual" above all else. This project examines Woolf's engagement with spirituality throughout The Waves, particularly in the moments in the novel in which the queer characters--Rhoda and Neville--express sexual desire. In doing so, I suggest that Woolf engages in a queer spirituality--a spirituality that conveys both a queer sexual desire and identity. For Rhoda and Neville, and in some ways Woolf herself, that desire remains unachieved, suggesting that Woolf viewed spirituality as a means of expressing a queer identity that was oftentimes frustrated and unfulfilled. In that frustration, however, Woolf also appears hopeful for a future, a potentiality, in which queer individuals could express their queerness openly.
College and Department
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Murdock, Hannah, ""An endeavour at something spiritual": Queer Spirituality in Virginia Woolf's The Waves" (2021). Theses and Dissertations. 9200.
Virginia Woolf, The Waves, Queer, Spirituality