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Title: Two on a tower : modernism and the influence of W.B. Yeats on Dylan Thomas and Vernon Watkins
Author: Golightly, V. J.
Awarding Body: University of Wales Swansea
Current Institution: Swansea University
Date of Award: 2003
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Late twentieth-century debates on post-modernism have led to a new understanding of the variegated and contestatory nature of modernism, favourable to historical materialist analysis. W.B. Yeats is now seen as a paleo-modernist, using old forms in new ways, and as a pre-cursor of post-colonial writing. He was thus an enabling example for Dylan Thomas and Vernon Watkins as belated Welsh modernists. Chapter One examines the Swansea origins of Thomas and Watkins, their meeting, the help Watkins gave Thomas with the revision of Twenty-five Poems, and the consequences for the work of each Chapter Two details Watkins’s meeting with Yeats, and his enthusiasm for Yeats’s mature modernist work, and shows how Thomas’s early interest in the same work is seen in the Notebook poems. Chapter Three examines the influence of Yeats in Watkins’s poetry, with a detailed consideration of the Watkins collection after Yeats’s death whose long poems are read as a memorial work, and the process of dialogue between Thomas and Watkins as writers of ‘ballads’. Chapter Four considers Thomas’s strategic use of influences as an outsider poet, and uses local archive material to establish the politicisation of his modernism, and adoption of a ‘dialectical method’, thanks to Swansea Marxist Bert Trick. The chapter looks closely at the deliberate, complex and dignified allusions to Yeats in Thomas’s late poems. In conclusion the thesis examines Watkins’s emergence as a prose writer after Thomas’s death in 1953, and the poetry of grief and preoccupation with Thomas that continued until his own death in 1967. This thesis draws, for the first time, on the substantial holdings of Watkins papers at the National Library of Wales.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available