Dorothy Richardson Essay

1131 words - 5 pages

Though acknowledged by literary circles as the first writer to use the stream-of-consciousness technique in her writing, Dorothy Richardson is not as widely recognized as the founder of this style. Her mannerisms and thought processes were affected for the rest of her life by her upbringing in a poverty-stricken family. Brought into the world in 1873, Richardson was destined for stereotypical feminine occupations: a tutor-governess in Hanover and London, a secretary, and an assistant. Her mother’s suicide in 1895 completely broke up the family, only adding to the need for Richardson to find a means of supporting herself. Fortunately, Richardson became involved with the socialists in the area, as well with the people living in Bloomsbury, and soon after she abandoned her secretarial work. She became involved in translations and freelance journalism as an introduction to the bohemian lifestyle; from there she met and married Alan Odel, a much younger man who was somewhat of a cult figure in bohemia at the time, with his waist length hair he wore wrapped around his head.

Throughout her lifetime, Richardson published a large number of essays, short stories, poems, as well as sketches. Most famous is her Pilgrimage series, a thirteen novel project that was the first in literature to employ what Richardson preferred to call “interior monologues.” Pointed Roofs was the first novel in the series and consequentially, the first to introduce such a style of writing. She presented the story with a sense of immediacy, rather than from a retrospective view. Instead of telling narratives in the sense that the realists did, Richardson let the current moment monopolize the literature so that the present could prevail over the past. It is odd to note that such credit is generally given to Virginia Woolf or James Joyce for introducing this technique, as Richardson was the true trailblazer.

Dorothy Richardson’s major writing was mostly autobiographical, as she began writing in 1903 when she felt the need to further understand and acknowledge the experiences of her life. From experiencing both poverty and riches, her decision to write came after many years of contemplating the social and gender structure and customs of Victorian England, which she despised greatly. A search for an understanding in herself also prompted this new interest in writing. She had a strong dislike for the masculine binds and constrictions that were put on women during the time and she worked to express her deep emotions against the confines of society. Her major works reflected her negative views towards men and society in general. She was one of the first feminist writers and clearly fit into the modernist category, as her writing reflects much of the thought and idea of her time period.

The first work that Richardson produced was an article in The Outlook in 1902, an anarchist monthly. She wrote essays and reviews in the years 1906 to 1907...

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