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Title: 'Lucky Poet' and the bounds of possibility : autobiography and referentiality in Hugh MacDiarmid's 'Poetic World'
Author: Matthews, Kirsten Alexandra
Awarding Body: University of Glasgow
Current Institution: University of Glasgow
Date of Award: 2009
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This thesis examines the use of collage as a form of autobiography in Hugh MacDiarmid’s Lucky Poet (1943). It traces the development of the use of autobiographical detail and the use of collage in MacDiarmid’s work from To Circumjack Cencrastus (1930) to Lucky Poet. It aims to show that though there is a clear precedent for both these elements in the earliest of MacDiarmid’s work, To Circumjack Cencrastus represented a turning point in MacDiarmid’s progression towards the use of collage as an autobiographical form, and the subsequent development of his interest in autobiography can be traced through the Clann Albann project (1931-1933) and Stony Limits and Other Poems (1934) to Lucky Poet. It examines the difference between autobiographical memory, as developed in the Clann Albann poems, and the representation of immediate experience in poems written while MacDiarmid was on Whalsay, particularly those included in Stony Limits and Other Poems (1934). Its analysis of Lucky Poet, and of the earlier works, focuses on the ideological and artistic use to which MacDiarmid puts autobiography. It includes a brief account of the place of Lucky Poet within recent critical debate regarding the autobiographical genre, but centres on a detailed analysis of MacDiarmid’s reference to Søren Kierkegaard and Lev Shestov. It shows how he developed, through reference to Shestov’s In Job’s Balances and Walter Lowrie’s biography of Kierkegaard, a concept of the suffering and self-sacrifice of the artist, and a related belief in the need to embrace – as an artist – both the danger and the freedom of Shestov’s abyss. It demonstrates how this freedom is realized in the rejection of social conventions and in the publication of unpalatable or provocative material. The thesis concludes by comparing MacDiarmid’s autobiographical writing to that of Edwin Muir and Sir Thomas Urquhart, arguing that Muir rejects the notions of self-sacrifice and rebellion developed by MacDiarmid while Urquhart, despite his distance from MacDiarmid in historical period and social class, ultimately stood for the same principles.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: PR English literature