The poetics of impurity : Louis MacNeice, writing and the thirties
Shuttleworth, Antony (1991) The poetics of impurity : Louis MacNeice, writing and the thirties. PhD thesis, University of Warwick.
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Official URL: http://webcat.warwick.ac.uk/record=b1410315~S15
This thesis argues that the notion of 'impurity' may be taken as a model for paradigms
in MacNeice's texts which are subjected to undercutting and transgression, by virtue of
their presumed identity, their context, and by the workings of the text. This impurity
challenges notions of MacNeice as an exponent of 'common-sense' empiricism.
Chapter One examines notions of purity and impurity as promoted by MacNeice
in the thirties. MacNeice's exposition in Modern Poetry is shown to be contradictory.
Comparison with the figure of Orwell indicates that Modern Poetry, and its promotion of
common-sense 'experience' or 'life', is an unreliable guide to MacNeice's thirties work.
Chapter Two examines notions of 'History' in the thirties, and of MacNeice's
treatment of time in a number of poems. MacNeice's poems demonstrate a conception
of time-as-difference, which is shown to be historically constructed within 'static' or
'imaginary' frames of reference. These frames of reference are seen to be imperiled by
Chapter Three analyses MacNeice's presentation of representation in, and of,
society in the thirties. Attention is paid to poems dealing with problems of
representation and of observation within a given social context, particularly that of
Chapter Four examines MacNeice's examination of the subject or 'I' of the
thirties. I argue that MacNeice evidences a scepticism towards the claims of the
thinking, acting, subject, inhabited as it is by the dominance of text or 'writing' within
history, and the indeterminacies this engenders.
Chapter Five offers a reading of Autumn Journal which emphasises MacNeice's
attention to the processes of the construction of 'unreliable' fictions. Rather than
asserting the values of liberal humanism in the poem, it is seen to question the
implications of such an act itself. The poem is shown to question the notion of the
possibility of the 'honesty' of the subject which is often attributed to MacNeice.
Chapter Six argues for the necessity of further re-examination of 'Louis
MacNeice, writing and the thirties' and the wider implications of 'impurity'.
|Item Type:||Thesis or Dissertation (PhD)|
|Subjects:||P Language and Literature > PR English literature|
|Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH):||MacNeice, Louis, 1907-1963 -- Criticism and interpretation, Purity (Philosophy) in literature, English poetry -- 20th century, Poetics|
|Official Date:||October 1991|
|Institution:||University of Warwick|
|Theses Department:||Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies|
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