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Title: Ecstasy, impersonality and self-consciousness in British poetry 1910-1916
Author: Howarth, P.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2000
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T.S. Eliot's seminal essay, 'Tradition and the Individual Talent', is usually taken as the starting point for the modernist belief in poetic impersonality. An earlier unpublished essay by Edward Thomas on Ecstasy, however, shows how he and other non-Modernist poets were also interested in a poetry where the author 'has stepped out of self'. Although his circle (the 'Georgians') has largely been ignored by critical histories, close examination of their magazines and anthologies shows identical aims of ecstatic directness and the elimination of rhetoric to Pound's group. Despite Eliot and Pound's denials, modernist notions of the 'Image' and 'tradition' are shown to be taken from the same Wordsworth who inspired Georgian poetry. Both Georgians and Imagists attempt to renew Lyrical Ballads with a poetry so direct it would by-pass rhetoric, but in fact fall prey to a self-consciousness which is anything but impersonal. Some Georgians were more successful, however. Walter de la Mare sought the anonymous through his childs-eye verses, W.H. Davies achieved a personal inscrutability through his simple poetry's avowal of mutually incompatible perspectives. Thomas Hardy was an inspiration of much Georgian verse, but they were unsympathetic to the self-consciousness of his melancholic Trauerspiel, vaunting his helplessness by conspicuous labour. Rupert Brooke constantly strove for instant, Imagistically ecstatic poetry, but was undone by an unsleeping self-awareness that came as much from his philosophy of art as his legendary good looks. The final chapter shows how the indirectness and ambiguity of Thomas's verses are part of his poetics of ecstasy, his attempt to evade self-consciousness and become part of the anti-personal community of the countryside.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available