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Title: 'The tale of the tribe' : the twentieth-century alliterative revival
Author: Gupta, Rahul
Awarding Body: University of York
Current Institution: University of York
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis studies the revival of Old English- and Norse-inspired alliterative versification in twentieth-century English poetry and poetics. It is organised as a chronological sequence of three case-studies: three authors, heirs to Romantic Nationalism, writing at twentieth-century intersections between Modernism, Postmodernism, and Medievalism. It indicates why this form attracted revival; which medieval models were emulated, with what success, in which modern works: the technique and mystique of alliterative verse as a modern mode. It differs from previous scholarship by advocating Kipling and Tolkien, by foregrounding the primacy of language, historical linguistics, especially the philological reconstruction of Germanic metre; and by, accordingly, methodological emphasis on formal scansion, taking account of audio recordings of Pound and Tolkien performing their poetry. It proposes the revived form as archaising, epic, mythopoeic, constructed by its exponents as an authentic poetic speech symbolising an archetypical Englishness—‘The Tale of the Tribe’. A trope emerges of revival of the culturally-‘buried’ native and innate, an ancestral lexico-metrical heritage conjured back to life. A substantial Introduction offers a primer of Old English metre and style: how it works, and what it means, according to Eduard Sievers’ (1850-1932) reconstruction. Chapter I promotes Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) as pioneering alliterative poet, his engagement with Old-Northernism, runes, and retelling of the myth of Weland. Chapter II assesses the impact of Anglo-Saxon on and through Ezra Pound (1885-1972). Scansions of his ‘Seafarer’ and Cantos testify to the influence of Saxonising versification in the development of Pound’s Modernist language and free verse. Chapter III exhibits the alliterative oeuvre of J. R. R. Tolkien (1892-1973), featuring close readings of verse from Lord of the Rings. The Conclusion contends that twentieth-century English poetry should be recognised as evincing an ambitious alliterative revival, impossible before, and that this ancient metre is likely to endure into the future.
Supervisor: Haughton, Hugh ; Townend, Matthew Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available