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Title: The dramatic and the theatrical in the poetry of T.S. Eliot (1909-1922)
Author: Stillman, Anne Malone
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2008
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This dissertation demonstrates some of the interconnections for T.S.Eliot between poetry, philosophy and drama. Drawing on a range of material from throughout his career including Inventions of the March Hare, the argument focuses on Eliot's verse up to 1922, paying paiticular attention to his gravitation towards the Jacobethan drama. Critics have often stressed that Eliot's writing places an emphasis on 'impersonality'. This disse1tation shows how this well-known notion in Eliot's work might be re-examined, arguing that a dramatic exchange might be described as impersonal, not because it is without personal emotion, but because it is interpersonal, taking place between persons, between 'points of view'. A shmt preface at the outset discusses the senses of the 'dramatic' and the 'theatrical'; it also outlines relevant questions surrounding the practice of allusion in Eliot's poetry. Thereafter, the work is divided into five chapters, with some concluding remarks. Chapter One argues for a reconsideration of the senses of impersonality in relation to the dramatic and the theatrical. It opens with a discussion of Eliot's early piece on Hamlet. Next, the senses of the word 'impersonality' are examined: 'Tradition and the Individual Talent' is discussed; critical accounts of Eliot and impersonality are considered. The third section sets Eliot's work among other, contemporary accounts of theatrical impersonality, in paiticular, performances and performers. The chapter concludes by addressing some of the psychological contexts surrounding the words 'impersonal' and 'depersonalization', and compares these to the fascination in Eliot's work with dramatic doubleness. Chapter Two addresses the relations between Eliot's academic background in philosophy and his subsequent interest in plays. The first section discusses the essay on 'Ben Jonson', and its interest in 'figures' and their 'worlds'. Next, F. H. Bradley's theory of judgement is considered in detail. The final section analyses Eliot's disse1tation on Bradley, and shows how this philosophical background influenced his interest in dramatic form. Chapter Three consists of an account of Eliot's beginnings as a poet. It opens with a discussion of Inventions of the March Hare, and outlines the compound influence of the Jacobethan drama and Laforgue on these early poems. The second section addresses aspects of the emergence of vers fibre. It considers both French and Anglo-American contexts, contrasting these with Eliot's senses of the dramatic and the impersonal. The final section explores the allusions to Jacobethan plays in Eliot's own remarks on vers libre, and discusses their practical implications through 'Gerontion'. Chapter Four examines an intense high-cultural enthusiasm for puppetry, and sets Eliot's verse against this background. It opens with an account of the theatrical vogue for marionettes, and discusses the theory and practice of monodrama. The chapter then considers levity and seriousness in 'Sweeney Erect', and concludes with a discussion of the dramatic and the theatrical in 'Sweeney Among the Nightingales'. The final chapter explores the dramatic and the theatrical in The Waste Land. The first section . analyses the representations of dramatic voices, exploring impersonation, the histrionic, and the word 'personage' . The second part examines the drafts of 'A Game of Chess' and considers several of the intricate allusions to The Duchess of Malji, Antony and Cleopatra, and The Tempest. Ending with an example from Eliot's verse outside of this patticular chronological frame, the concluding remarks consider how the argument of the disse1tation might be expanded.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral