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Title: Some beginnings of His creature : art and artefact in the writings of David Jones
Author: Johnson, Anna Elizabeth
ISNI:       0000 0004 2731 574X
Awarding Body: Oxford University
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2011
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In my thesis I consider the relationship between David Jones's poetry and visual art, with reference to his critical writings. My aim is to integrate these in a chronological study, tracing his comparable experiments in word and image, and referring these to a broader contemporary context. I demonstrate that Jones was at the heart of debates in the British art world of the 1920s-1950s, correcting a prevailing belief that he was a solitary figure. Current assessments of Jones's neglect in modern scholarship focus on the problems caused by his literary allusions and self-annotation. I argue that we ought instead to focus on his use of visual allusion and exposition of aesthetic theories through his poetry; his adoption of tropes from Modernist visual art, and his overlaps with broader movements in the art world (for example, neo-romantic concerns in the I 940s which find a central place in Jones's art and literature). I focus primarily on three poems, In Parenthesis (1937), 'The Book of Balaam's Ass' (c. 1938), and The Anathemata (1952). Jones's art and literature articulate the same problematic relationship between modern civilization and past cultures, and the role of the artist within them. Jones's approach is not static, but responsive to changing, contemporary assessments of the artist's status and role. By tracing Jones's complex use of art citation and development of an aesthetic theory through In Parenthesis, I point towards a modern crisis of representation. I argue that Jones's anti- mechanistic approach in 'The Book of Balaam's Ass' forms a carefully constructed response to art critic Herbert Read's acceptance of machine art as a form of abstract art. The last two chapters consider Jones's approach to ancient artefacts in The Anathemata and his use of painted inscriptions to illustrate this work, as part of a successful cultural conservatism.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available