Multipersonal dialogue in consciousness: an incident in Virginia Woolf's ‘To the Lighthouse’
Here I suggest that Virginia Woolf was a great artist who has provided descriptions of concrete sequences of events in consciousness and perhaps insights into its nature. Of course, we can never be completely sure of the accuracy of her descriptions. But they at least offer instances with which theories of consciousness can be grounded, and inspiration for models of consciousness. For this purpose I use an incident that occurs near the beginning of To The Lighthouse by Woolf (1927), and the commentary on it by Auerbach (1953). Auerbach's commentary is important in itself, and has also figured in two substantial traditions in the development of literary criticism. Auerbach was the first to analyse the ‘interior monologue’ of Mrs Ramsay, the protagonist of the novel, and to comment on its significance. The problem that concerns me is identifying and understanding the multipersonal voices that figure in the interior monologue during the incident.