On first consideration, African American author Toni Morrison might seem to have
a little in common with Virginia Woolf the famous British writer. But the interesting
fact is that Morrison wrote her M.A thesis on Woolf and William Faulkner. Morrison
and Woolf wrote about so many common themes as: freedom, isolation, feminist
matters etc...They used difficult and complex techniques in order to express how
important and complicated those themes are indeed and to focus on them in a very
unique modern way. In very different cultural contexts, Toni Morrison and Virginia
Woolf tell personal and collective stories in such a way that asks readers to explore
their own lives in terms of larger stories of compassion and survival. The major points
in this paper are to talk about the validity of Woolf's use of flashback technique in
Morrison's writings, to examine briefly the different dimensions of using flashback
and how it served in conveying the purposes of Woolf and Morrison in two of their
remarkable masterpieces: Morrison's "Beloved" and Woolf's "To the Lighthouse".
Morrison's use of shifting perspective, fragmentary narrative, flashbacks, and a
narrative voice extremely close to the consciousness of her characters, reveals the
influence of Virginia Woolf, a writer that Morrison not coincidentally, studied
extensively while a collage student.
One of the prominent techniques, that are worthy to be taken into consideration, is the
recurrent use of flashback in both novels. However it's useful to technically define
flashback. "Flashback is an interruption in the continuity of a story, play, etc. by the
narration or portrayal of some earlier episode."(Webster's New World Dictionary) In
terms of this definition I'll analyze examples of where, how and especially
why, Morrison and Woolf used this literary device.
Beloved's narrative moves quickly between past and present, frequently shifting
forward and back...