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Title: Modernism from the margins : a study of the 1930s poetry of Dylan Thomas and Louis MacNeice
Author: Wigginton, C. J.
Awarding Body: University of Wales Swansea
Current Institution: Swansea University
Date of Award: 2003
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Following recent work that problematizes the notion of Modernism as a monolithic phenomenon, this thesis explores and historicizes the response to High Modernism in the 1930s poetry of Louis MacNeice and Dylan Thomas. The attitude to MacNeice as simply a member of the 'Auden Generation' has been challenged by Edna Longley and Peter McDonald, who chart the counter-influence of Yeats. However, in their attempt to assimilate MacNeice into a Northern Irish canon his relationship to Modernism has been ignored. The thesis argues that while MacNeice, like Eliot, Yeats and Pound, has a classicizing impulse, he harnesses it to a discursive democratiziation of Modernism as opposed to constructing a myth-reliant metanarrative. Making explicit the contradictions of Modernist aesthetics by refusing such overarching structures, MacNeice concentrates on weaving specific and contemporary political and personal histories into the fabric of his work. While established critics of Thomas, such as Ralph Maud, Walford Davies and James A. Davies, have done much to further a balanced appreciation of the poetry, many readings are inclined to valorize or dismiss his work as that of a regional Romantic. What criticism of Thomas has neglected is the way in which he reacts to, and engages with, his Modernist precursors. Within a historicizing framework, it is argued here that Thomas's poetry, like MacNeice's, stands in contradistinction to the self-transcendent gestures of High Modernism. Deploying theories of subject formation and sexuality, it is suggested that Thomas does so by forging a poetics of the body which internalizes an equally valid Modernism based on necessarily regional responses to certain personal and political crises. In exploring the nature of their differences as poets following on from - and responding to - High Modernism, this thesis argues that their work may be read complementarily, MacNeice exploding and Thomas imploding the Modernist inheritance. Availing themselves of Yeats's refurbishment of 'well-made' form, both poets use regional and marginal affiliations which subvert metropolitan, classicizing norms.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available