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Title: Muriel Spark and the Romantic ideal
Author: McIlroy, Colin William
ISNI:       0000 0004 5356 5187
Awarding Body: University of Glasgow
Current Institution: University of Glasgow
Date of Award: 2015
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By narrowing the disparate and often contradictory trajectories of Romantic thought into a compressed framework, this thesis seeks to scrutinise the treatment of the Romantic ideal in the fiction of Muriel Spark. A number of recurring themes can be understood to collectively constitute this Romantic ideal. These include Coleridge’s theory of the power of the imagination to coalesce disparities into unity and harmony. The relationship between creativity and psychosis in The Comforters (1957) is considered within a wider discussion on the nature of creativity and the conception of the visionary Romantic artist. This leads to an investigation of the Romantic Movement’s emphasis on interiority and the self, and the influence of John Henry Newman in The Mandelbaum Gate (1965). The resulting discussion treats the concepts of transfiguration and the sublime as they relate to individual subjectivity in The Driver’s Seat (1970). The Romantic fascination with the reinvigoration of myth, legend and oral narrative cultures is examined in relation to The Ballad of Peckham Rye (1960), and the discussion returns to unity, harmony, vision, and the artist in The Finishing School (2004). The investigation of these elements of the Romantic ideal highlights a number of corollary questions. The emphasis on the self prompts the examination of Spark’s engagement with the themes of solipsism, ego, and performance, while Keats’ ‘Negative Capability’ is considered in the attempt to comprehend the other. The methodology will be comparative textual analysis with reference to relevant extant criticism, alongside consideration of literature from anthropology and folklore studies. By illuminating previously overlooked connections with Romanticism and Romantic literary methodologies, this interdisciplinary approach will assist in ascertaining whether Spark’s sustained engagement with these themes is evidence of a complex, multivalent relationship with the Romantic ideal, or whether recent criticism positing her rejection of Romanticism can be upheld.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: PN Literature (General) ; PN0080 Criticism