Shell Shock and the Modernist Imagination: The Death Drive in Post-World War I British Fiction by Wyatt Bonikowski is just out from Ashgate Press.
It includes a chapter on Virginia Woolf’s novel Mrs. Dalloway (1925) titled “`death was an attempt to communicate’: Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway.” Bonikowski, assistant profess or English at Suffolk University in Boston, presented part of the chapter at a 2008 MLA panel sponsored by the International Virginia Woolf Society.
The book looks at case histories of shell shock, along with Modernist novels by Ford Madox Ford, Rebecca West, and Woolf, to show how the figure of the shell-shocked soldier and the symptoms of war trauma were transformed by the literary imagination.
Bonikowski argues that the authors in his study broaden our understanding of the traumatic effects of war and explore the idea that there may be a connection between the trauma of war and the trauma of sexuality. All three novels are structured around the relationship between a soldier returning from and a woman who awaits him. However, according to Bonikowski’s argument, the novels do not offer the possibility of a healing effect from the reunion.