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Title: An inventory of heaven and another version : William Empson, Sylvia Townsend Warner and the rhapsodic pastoral
Author: Feaver, Jane
ISNI:       0000 0004 2742 6909
Awarding Body: University of Exeter
Current Institution: University of Exeter
Date of Award: 2011
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The few childhood years Mavis Gaunt spent as a wartime evacuee in the village of Shipleigh, Devon - away from London and her parents' loveless marriage - were sufficient for her to conceive of the place as ,a heavenly retreat. But it is not until her twenties, with nothing left to keep her in the city, that Mavis decides to head back. Frances, Tom and Robert Upcott are reclusive siblings, the last in the line of an ancient farming family. When Mavis returns to the village she and Frances become unlikely friends. Gradually Mavis is drawn into the life of the farm and begins to feel the sense of belonging that has so far eluded her. But one winter day a tragic sequence of events is set to turn her idyll into a living hell. Mavis is seventy when Eve and her young son Archie arrive in the village. The tentative friendship that develops between them prompts Mavis to put together a collection of memories and treasured objects: her inventory. In revealing the truth of what happened at the Upcott farm, she is able to answer Eve's questions about the past, and in summoning them, finally lay her own ghosts to rest. The accompanying essay is an attempt to show how radical a medium the pastoral can be as a means of expression in fiction. The catalyst for my discussion is a meeting in 1930 between the critic, William Ernpson. and the poet and novelist, Sylvia Townsend Warner. I will trace the pastoral from its roots to its re-emergence in the 1930s and the Second World War. Between the critic, who takes an intellectual and historical perspective. and the writer, who demonstrates an intuitive working view. I aim to tease out another version of pastoral. the "rhapsodic". Using Sylvia Townsend Warner's novel, The Corner That Held Them (1948), and drawing on material from the metaphysical poets to propaganda film-makers, I hope to demonstrate how relevant- as subject, form, but above all, as process - the pastoral can be as a vehicle for contemporary fiction.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available