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In Kew Gardens, Virginia Woolf takes advantage of the liminal quality of the short story in order to highlight the suspended world that she creates in the garden. For Woolf, the lyrical short story’s subversion of traditional narrative structure allows her to focus on creating a world rather than a plot. Further, the short story creates a liminal space by the very nature of its form. Caught in a space where it is not considered a poem or a novel, the short story exists as undefined. The liminality of the short story, however, is both liberating and restricting. Woolf explores this feature in order to suggest the unsustainable nature of Kew Gardens. While Woolf utilizes the form of the short story to create a liminal, impressionistic space that eradicates the boundaries between human and nature, she also uses the transitory quality of the short story to suggest that such a space can only exist for a short duration due to the restrictions of the imposing outside world.
Eileen Baldeshwiler’s “The Lyric Short Story” discusses the two different branches of short story—the “epical…