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Title: A novel: Three Jumpers (An Elegy for Trevor) ; and, A study: Death-work in the Californian comedies of Aldous Huxley and Evelyn Waugh: a critical consideration and creative response
Author: Martin, M.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2668 8114
Awarding Body: University of the West of England, Bristol
Current Institution: Bath Spa University
Date of Award: 2008
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Three Jumpers (An Elegy for Trevor) is a comic novel about a man who comes to believe that he makes no impact on the world, that the world is entirely unaffected by his existence. Concluding that he has no reason to live, Trevor decides to die. To produce a fitting valediction that might serve as both a memorial and a cautionary tale, he hires a writer, the narrator, Bardolph. The story tells of how, through the writing process, each of these two protagonists struggles to come to terms with his own mortality, and his consequent descent - Trevor's morbid downward spiral towards suicide and Bardolph's spiritual descent towards irreparable loss of faith. Three Jumpers aims to be, among other things, a satire in the Dryden tradition, commentating on 'the Condition of England' through a broad range of 'vices, ignorance, and errors.' It is also an elegy - hence the subtitle. The inherent irony is that the narration - at the core of which is the narrator's struggle with, and apparent failure in, writing the elegy - turns out to be that very elegy. More importantly, the novel is intended as a parody, albeit, in the best Beerbohmian tradition, a good-humoured and affectionate one. Within the novel there lurk parodic literary allusions, many of them to the chosen texts of the study. The accompanying study is a critical consideration of the Californian comedies (from 1939 to 1948) of Aldous Huxley and Evelyn Waugh. There are four key texts, After Many a Summer (1939) and Ape and Essence (1949 (1948 in USA)) by Aldous Huxley and 'Half in Love with Easeful Death' (1947) and The Loved One (1948) by Evelyn Waugh. These texts are chosen because they are rich in what is defined as death-work (the treatment of death in the text), and they share the Forest Lawn funeral home as a setting. In this way, they highlight Huxley's and Waugh's preoccupation with matters of mortality and spirituality. The study develops and applies a 'chromatic' model of comic literary fiction; while chroma (the essence of colour) might be defined in terms of wavelength and luminance, the comic fictional equivalents are taken to be genre (authors' 'pitch', their response to readers' requirements) and colour (the brightness of the narrative). From this chromatic perspective, the study draws the following main conclusions. Death-work is not a feature of genre but of narrative colour and, contrary to Bernard Bergonzi's view that 'we expect comedies to end more or less happily' (Bergonzi 27), comedies may well reach successfully funny morbid and untimely mortal ends with little hint of happiness either in the here and now or in the hereafter. After Many a Summer is an allegory about American world domination. Waugh is no satirist, and The Loved One is a farce, and is clearly informed by After Many a Summer. Ape and Essence should be read as an allegorical attack on the United States' censorship regimes in train during the late 1940S. Evelyn Waugh's essay, 'Half in Love with Easeful Death', provides Aldous Huxley with the narrative structure for Ape and Essence.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available