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Title: G.K. Chesterton : the development of allegory
Author: Hunter, Lynette
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1978
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All his life G.K. Chesterton felt that he was surrounded by a humanist world. The absolute human creativity implicit for him in the art and philosophy of the 90's split into the twin evils of "impressionism" and "didactic rationalism". He believed that the individual human authority of these attitudes denied an external God; and insisted on the insanity of a solipsist view, which became a fundamental fear throughout his life. In counteracting this fear he was initiated on a peculiarly individual artistic journey. Chesterton's primary concern was to find and express belief in an external, in order to assert the unity of his inspiration, life and art. As he searched for a mode of expression he denied any permanent value in impressionism and rationalism, turning instead to ritual and simultaneously accepting the Anglo-Catholic church. In the process his three basic terms became religion, morality and expression. The last word is significant for it defines the role of the "mystic artist". The mystic artist must relate the divine to the human, the spiritual to material. His is not the role of the saint, the pure man with expression in life, or that of the great poet with his mythological imagination, or that of the philosopher communicating through discursive rationalism. Chesterton is trying to find a mode between discursive and symbolic writing and he discovers the closely related modes of fantasy and allegory. To avoid the dangers of human authority implied in fantasy he develops the analogical function of allegory to indicate the presence of God. As the style is sophisticated it becomes his own unique form of the detective story: an expression analogous to and indicating the existence of, God's love. The denial of absolute human communication is a dominant twentieth century concern. Chesterton's examination of fantasy is seen as a warning about the misuse of communicative media, and his development of allegory as an attempt to find a more suggestive and allusive mode of indicating identity.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
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