I is the other : conflicts and continuities of identity in Tony Harrison's The Loiners, Continuous and V
Tony Harrison has spoken of the way children state their address: "Beeston, Leeds, West Riding, Yorkshire, England, Great Britain, Europe, The World, The Universe". This thesis will be concerned to explore the conflicts and problems produced by the constant effort in Harrison's verse to scale this carefully differentiated 'social ladder' of identity. it will do this by examining some of the ways in which he has negotiated these conflicts in The Loiners, Continuous, and v. In seven chapters a close reading of The Loiners examines the volume's depiction of individuals struggling against their entrapment within a debilitating cultural and historical inheritance. The assumption in the adolescence of the 'childhood' poems of a repressive authoritarian construction of personal identity is considered first. Then, in the second and third chapters, the dual status of the P. W. D. Man and the White Queen as emblems of imperial history and ideology and failed rebels against their authoritarian inheritance is first discussed. Konrad Lorenz's On Aggression is then used as a means to expose some of the tensions and, dynamics underlying the use of sexuality in The Loiners as a metaphor for political and historical relationships. In the fourth chapter Pascal's Pensees provide the important source of reference for an understanding of the connection established in the poems between the Western colonists' experiences of personal entrapment and the recurring theme of'the Fall'. The remaining three chapters on The Loiners consider the dramatisation of a consciousness permeated by guilt in 'The Railroad Heroides', the overlaying of such a consciousness with emblematic representations of the disintegration of the British Empire in 'The White Queen', and one other central issue which pervades the portrayal of authoritarian culture in the volume---' the emphasis upon a destructive repressive construction of masculinity. A detained discussion of'On Not Being Milton', in which the poem is explored in the light of Aime Cesaire's Cahier d'un retour au pays natal and E. P. Thompson's The Making of the English Working Class, examines the terms by which Harrison is able to extricate himself from the location of self elaborated in The Loiners. Other poems in Continuous are then examined to reveal in more detail the shift in the location of self from The Loiners; and the tensions which arise between Harrison's reclamation of his working-class affiliation and his desire to affirm a wider location of identity.