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Title: Walter Savage Landor : a critical reconsideration of the man and his works, with special reference to his Imaginary Conversations
Author: Megally, S. H.
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: Royal Holloway, University of London
Date of Award: 1963
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Abstract:
The first two chapters are devoted to investigating the psychological characteristics of Landor's personality. This preliminary study of the man, which is essential for a reconsideration of his works, points to a recurring pattern of rebellion against persecution and self-imposed exile from the region of its influence. The recurrence of this pattern throughout Landor's life, brought alternately into prominence - as the third chapter attempts to show - the two soul-sides of the man: "One to face the world with," and "one to show" the beloved. Landor's fight against the contemporary world is then studied in the three subsequent chapters. His struggle against the political, religious and literary worlds, and his alienation from them are dealt with in detail. It was in terms of his sense of persecution that Landor came to view political and religious institutions, and to speak of contemporary writers, critics and reading public. When we deal, in chapter seven, with Landor's withdrawal, we find out that his essential character embodies traits which imply a romantic attitude to life. This romantic aspect of his personality comes into full view as we study his promethean rebellion, his withdrawal in time and place, his subjectivity, and his attitude to love, death, and nature. This view of Landor's character becomes the more convincing when we study, in chapter eight, the impact of his withdrawal into Italy upon his mind and work. For he will emerge, from this study, as a major participant in the Italianate fashion which was prevalent during the Romantic period, and which characterises the works of the Romantics proper. After dealing with Landor's Content in the previous chapters, we proceed to a consideration of his Form. When Landor adopted the dialogue form, he made it - as chapter nine attempts to show - his own. A knowledge of his peculiarities of temperament, the nature of his thinking, his poetic genius, his subjectivity, and his craving for dramatic expression will help us to understand the reasons for his choice of the dialogue form. A short survey of the dialogues written by his predecessors and contemporaries will show how Landor developed this form, and how the Imaginary Conversations are characteristically Landorian. This study of Landor's dialogues suggests a new classification for the Imaginary Conversations. None of the existing classifications is convincing enough: they overlook the important fact that Landor's dialogues are the product of the recurring pattern of rebellion and withdrawal. The knowledge of this pattern enables us to see in Landor's Conversations two groups that correspond with the two sides of his nature: the discursive and the dramatic. The predominance of this pattern in Landor's life shows also that each of his individual dialogues, though digressive in nature, has unity. It is because they have ignored this pattern that some critics have been led to the conclusion that most of Landor's dialogues lack both a central theme and a unity. Finally, if we approach Landor's criticism with this study in mind, we shall be able to understand what Landor said and - what Mr. Super sees as lacking in previous studies -"why he said it".
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.703907  DOI: Not available
Keywords: English Literature
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