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Title: Poetics and the philosophy of reflection : with particular attention to W.H. Auden's The sea and the mirror as it reflects back to its predecessors and forward to postmodernism
Author: Hass, Andrew Wilfred
ISNI:       0000 0001 0964 0045
Awarding Body: University of Glasgow
Current Institution: University of Glasgow
Date of Award: 1996
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This thesis examines how a poetics may emerge from both the possibilities and the limits peculiar to the metaphor of the mirror and the concept of reflection. Working from a particular history of Western ideas that moves from Plato through to postmodernism, the examination focuses on W.H. Auden, whose treatment and utilization of reflection within The Sea and the Mirror, a long and variegated poem and commentary upon Shakespeare's late play The Tempest, act as a template for an expanded notion of poetics. It is argued that this poetics affirms the creative process by a breaking down of the borders between reflection and what is being reflected, thereby necessitating a reinscribing of those borders self-reflexively and ironically, and in tum necessitating a reevaluation of the respective tasks and boundaries of philosopher, artist and theologian. As suggested by Auden and The Sea and the Mirror, this poetics draws upon texts from a variety of historical periods and a variety of theoretical disciplines. The texts investigated in this thesis include: the "text" of a certain history of ideas defmed as the philosophy of reflection; Shakespeare's The Tempest; Robert Browning's Caliban Upon Setebos; Auden's later poem Friday's Child as well as many of his critical writings; and the theoretical notions and theologies of such contemporary thinkers as Jean-Luc Marion and Jacques Derrida as they themselves interact with the texts of the Bible, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, and many other thinkers who have been critical of the West's metaphysical and onto-theological traditions. The bringing together of such texts is meant to show that, upon a continual reinvention of previous texts, the distinctions between an original and a copy, a poem and a commentary, or imaginative and theoretical discourse, begin to blur, and that the resulting negations and recreations, as variously represented by the figure of the "0", mark out a new inclusive arena for philosophy, art and theology. It is argued that this circular arena or stage does not, however, preclude the possibility of a "Wholly Other", but that, in line with the traditlolJ;,~~~5lIive theology, any theology seeking an non-idolatrous notion of GOd'"fWil1:.IJtq;lnd upon a doctrine of creation l~ ~ .... -'. . as suggested by Auden, where reverential silence is reached through the ironiesand inversions of conscious artifice as a "rite". In this sense, it is thus suggested that any philosophy or art probing the paradoxes and fissures of its own mirrorlike creations necessarily opens up new theological possibilities
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: PR English literature Philosophy Religion Literature Mass media Performing arts