The visionary element in the writings of John Cowper Powys and William Golding
This thesis is a parallel exploration of the writings of John Cowper Powys and William Golding, as comparable examples of the visionary temperament in English literature. An analysis of the nature of 'visionary literature' is made - focusing on such matters as the use of mythic models, an attachment to the locally numinous, a sympathy with the primitive and the grotesque, a violent quasi-Manichean depiction of human nature and interaction, manifesting a religious or ritualist sensibility, redeemed or transformed by moments of vision - to provide a context in which to examine the work of Powys and Golding. The non-fiction of the two writers demonstrates many shared interests and preoccupations, and has been analysed on the following lines: its use of autobiographical and familial evidence; its detailed anatomy of man as a species I its visionary attachment to a specific sense of place; its exploration of a stratified and hierarchic social perspective; its theories of art, novel-writing and creativity; its overall 'world-view'; its evocation of visionary moments and their Significance. The rest of this thesis examines the ways in which these similar opinions and philosophies are transmuted into fiction. In the case of Powys, I review the early fiction I focusing particularly on After My Fashion, as tentative steps towards the achieved fictional evocation of Powys' mature world-view which is manifested in the Wessex novels. I illustrate the ways in which, despite certain technical shortcomings, the Wessex novels most successfully affirm Powys' visionary beliefs. I then turn to Golding's later fiction. I have attempted to justify my claim that Darkness Visible triumphantly embodies the complexities of Golding's recent statements of belief in a convincing fictional form. Finally, the other late fiction is assessed, putting subtle and often comic shadings onto Golding's visionary outlook.