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Title: 'His country ... not the country he had fought for' : British literatures and world lit. theory : the case of Edward Thomas
Author: Webb, Andrew
ISNI:       0000 0004 2694 4341
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2010
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My Ph.D. is an intervention on three levels: it works on the theoretical level as an investigation into the usefulness of Pascale Casanova’s theory of world literature; it sheds new light on the relation between Welsh and Anglocentric British literary spaces in the twentieth century; and it radically re-positions Edward Thomas, the ‘quintessential English poet’, as a pioneering writer in an Anglophone Welsh literature. This dissertation begins by setting out some revisions to Casanova’s model before investigating whether this modified theory can be applied to dominant and dominated literatures within Britain. Subsequent chapters provide a case-history of how this might be achieved by focusing on Thomas, a figure of division among Welsh and English critics alike. While Welsh critics, for various reasons, have failed to claim Thomas for their literature, other, non-Welsh, critics have placed him in an English tradition. These include Robert Frost and Walter De la Mare, both of whom read his work as a representation of the rural England for which he supposedly died, as well as Edna Longley who, following a critical line initially developed by Philip Larkin, presents Thomas’s poetry as the ‘missing link’ in a native English poetic tradition. By bringing to light Thomas’s literary journalism, mainly out of print since it was written, as well as biographical factors long obscured behind the focus on his death as a British soldier, I am able to show how Casanova’s revised model, when applied to Thomas, reveals a radically different writer to the one who has been critically received. Thomas, I contend, should be read as an English-language Welsh writer who dissimilates from an anglicized British literary space by disseminating Welsh folk material to a wider audience, by promoting writers from other English-language national traditions, by importing French literary models into his work, by defending gay writers in the post-Wilde trial era, and by subverting the Englishness of typical rural locales. Re-positioning the ‘quintessentially English’ Thomas makes more urgent the question that some critics have begun to address: of what will a post-imperial, or even a post-British, English identity consist?
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: University of Warwick
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: PR English literature