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Title: The theory and practice of impersonality in early Eliot, 1917-1922
Author: Chung, Kyung Sim
ISNI:       0000 0001 3550 9235
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2006
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This thesis challenges T.S. Eliot’s claim of 1919 that his ‘impersonal’ theory of poetry is based purely on aesthetic criteria, arguing that it has a metaphysical dimension too. The difficulty of locating its philosophical aspect arises in part from Eliot’s indecision with regard to the idea of the Absolute, which he logically rejected but continued to yearn for, both in his early critical writings and especially his poetry. The thesis identifies the sources of Eliot’s theory of impersonality, and his departures from them. Chapter 1 examines aesthetic sources including the Romantics, the Symbolists, Arnold, Pater, Henry James and Ezra Pound. Chapter 2 explores his philosophical sources, focusing on F.H. Bradley’s theory of point of view and Eliot’s relationship with Middleton Murry. Eliot’s interest in the Absolute had positive effects on his poetry, inspiring relentless technical experiment. Halting at the frontier of metaphysics, he nonetheless sought to realise in his poetic practice an ideal he recognised to be unattainable in the realms of theory. Eclectic and innovative, his poetry became a site for his quest for the divine and for an impersonal transcendence of the self. Chapter 3 analyses the dramatic method of Prufrock and Other Observations (1917), focusing on Eliot’s development of dramatic monologue and point of view. Chapter 4 examines the linguistic method of Prufrock and Poems (1920), concentrating on Eliot’s tactical use of pronouns and tenses as manipulators of viewpoint and voice. Chapter 5 explores the Symbolist/Imagist method of ‘Gerontion’ and The Waste Land (1922), highlighting the art of juxtaposition and paradox. The chapters show the evolving relationship between Eliot’s poetry and metaphysics, and his search for a more inclusive and ‘impersonal’ mode of expression.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available