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Title: Betweenness in the work of Mary Webb
Author: Thurlow, Michael Alfred
ISNI:       0000 0001 3533 1633
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2008
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This thesis contends that Mary Webb is a considerable writer, who works between concepts and strives to reconcile them. Chapter One sets Webb in the context of certain Victorian and early twentieth-century writers who consider humanity in relation to nature and the natural, within a broad historical or conceptual perspective. Chapter Two discusses Webb's idea of a continuum of nature and the spirit. She believes in the wholesomeness of nature, but emphasises the need for humanity to lead the development of greater sensitivity. This would counter the natural instinct to hurt in order to survive, and also the kind of civilisation which dominates and exploits others. Webb works to understand the place ofevil within a universe which is potentially good. Chapter Three argues that Webb envisages her land as 'half-Celtic' in that its full reality is revealed only to those open to the perception of otherworldly dimensions. Such a land shares liminal characteristics with Faery. Chapter Four sets Webb's linguistic practice in the context of an interweaving of the concept of original 'natural' language with that of continually developing discourse. She uses a dialogic technique by which both sublime and limited uses of simple language such as dialect are set against narrative voices of varying sophistication. A sensitised simplicity, both in language and in certain historical situations, begins to emerge. The Conclusion, drawing on further senses of Webb's betweenness, argues that she writes in a borderland between the highbrow and the middlebrow, in a mode of thought that might be called metaphysical inclusivism. The perception that she is didactic can be dispelled by recognition that the narrative voices are not necessarily the author's. The view that she is primarily a writer about the countryside needs to be adjusted, in order to recognise that she works from a human-centred perspective between our natural origins and our problematic higher destiny.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available