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Title: "A cry into the green world" : nature and ethics in the poetry of R.S. Thomas, Ted Hughes, Charles Tomlinson and Jon Silkin
Author: Rathmell , Annette Louise
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2013
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My thesis argues that a major and hitherto neglected strand of British post-War poetry lies in the sustained critique of Cartesian metaphysics contained in the work of key poets coming to maturity in the 1950s and 1960s. Whereas the poetry of the period has often been examined in terms of, for example, the poets' attitudes to history, myth or class, I argue for an alternative configuration, based on the ways in which four major poets developed new, anti-Cartesian ways of experiencing and knowing the nonhuman world. Each of these poets sought to interrogate established Cartesian dualities such as subject/object, thought/feeling, body/spirit, which they believe had resulted in a damaged and dangerous relationship between humanity and the nonhuman world. Each developed an alternative metaphysics, which, they believed, would entail more balanced, less destructive ways of living with the non human world. In my introduction, I examine some of the major critical responses to the poetry of this period, and argue that these fail to give due weight to the work of these poets, in particular its interrogation of the oppressive uses of Cartesian rationality, and its use of the unique potential of poetic language to develop alternatives. In Chapters 1-4, I examine the work of each of the four poets individually. I argue that their concerns emerged from a sense that humans had become dangerously alienated from the nonhuman world, and demonstrate from close readings of key poems how they develop poetically their alternative metaphysics and attendant ethics. In Chapter 5, I demonstrate the importance of my reading of these four poets by showing how it enables us better to understand the work of major poets writing today. who are also concerned with the human relation to the nonhuman world.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available