An application of Maurice Blanchot's notion of modern literature : to an analyses of P.B. Shelley's Alastor, Julian and Maddalo and The triumph of life
The thesis considers the parallel critiques of the notion of poesis as a mode of subjective power of self-determination in P.B. Shelley and Maurice Blanchot. It explores the terms in which, in the romantic-idealist tradition, the work of art is valorised as the realisation of the subject's access to spiritual significance. The thesis traces one of the sources of Blanchot's notion of modern literature' to his understanding of romanticism. It describes the ways in which Blanchot's notion of the non-romantic essence of romanticism deconstructs the romantic-idealist model of the work of literature as a mode of subjective self-realisation. Blanchot focuses on the fact that the presence of the critique of this model within the romantic/idealist theorization of the work of literature turns literature into a self-questioning, rather than a self-realizing structure. The idealist framework offers a notion of absolute reflection which significantly extends the model/figure of the autonomous subject. The thesis will argue that, on the evidence of some of Shelley’s prose fragments, the empiricist and sceptical heritage of Shelley' s conception of the mind draws him away from subscribing to such a model, and ultimately leads him to repeal it. The thesis will also argue that a similar undermining of the individual integrity of the subject can be observed in Shelley’s conception of self-identity. The analysis undertaken in the thesis concentrates on how a distinction between the ability to realize the poetical work and a process of self-realization is manifested in the three poems selected for scrutiny, and how this problematic is developed through the individual imaginative quest embodied in the figure of the poet in Alastor. The thesis will also explore the ways in which the ambivalence of the articulations around which the world of sanity and the notion of the accomplished work of literature are organized and dramatized in Julian and Maddalo. The Triumph of Life is then contrasted with the theme of the representative relation of the poet in concord to his community that is offered in A Defence of Poetry. In this poem, the principle of creation is likened to the course of history.