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Title: Dark interpretations : a study on some aspects of guilt and Gothicism in the writing of Thomas De Quincey
Author: McCloskey, Roisin Marie
ISNI:       0000 0004 5355 3135
Awarding Body: Ulster University
Current Institution: Ulster University
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis examines the psychological and Gothic motifs which infuse Thomas De Quincey's literature. His obsession with childhood trauma and associated guilt, and his tragic affair with opium and the nightmares it brought, will be discussed in order to illustrate how De Quincey has become recognised for his ability to combine sunlight and subterranean, finding somewhere in between these the mysteries of human consciousness and guilt. Many questions will arise during the course of this thesis; was De Quincey as aware of his addiction as he claims? Was he as addicted to opium as he claims? Did he write Confessions with an honest and contrite heart? Was his writing a mode of repentance? Or did he write knowing all too well how popular this glimpse into addiction would be and how much the reading public would revel in becoming the voyeurs of his opium habit? Was he more like a lunatic or a genius? Why was death in childhood so significant to him? This examination specifically of De Quincey's Gothicism and his ability to analyse the subconscious will illuminate some new opportunities for research into his work. This thesis, inspired by Morrison, will provide a detailed and contemporary look at the English Opium-Eater and how relevant his work is in an age where autobiographical writing has deteriorated into mere voyeurism for the sake of transient fame; where the public readership thrives on a diet of the private revelations of public figures. It is intended that this study will appreciate the skill and art of confessional writing, and answer some questions regarding the intent, purpose and importance of revealing our personal histories through self-analysis. In clarifying what is meant by the term 'confessional writing', one must question its purpose and the motivation for its creation. Confession implies truth, professing as honestly as possible the account at hand. However, it is not surprising that this process is, more often than not, obscured by the human error of omission or varying impressions as to the actual details of an experience. Levin agrees that confessional writing falls somewhere between truthful intention and appealing authorship, 'The relationship between lived events and literary narrative becomes especially complex when an author presents a text as a kind of lived experience, as an autobiography or even more specifically as a confession, a word defined by the notion of truthful accounting. His La Confession d 'un enfant du siecle, for instance, raised certain issues for Alfred Musset. In the letter of 1836 to composer Franz Liszt, he wrote of how the book was "not nearly true enough to be a memoir by any stretch of the imagination and not false enough to be a novel." And as a writer Musset was concerned with keeping the literary form under control,.I Whether Musset's assertion regarding his confessional work can be applied to De Quincey's confessional work is questionable. The degree to which confessional writing is, in fact, truly a confession vacillates between extremes; it can be as intentionally truthful as The Confessions of St. Augustine, or it can lean toward an aesthetic and self-vindicating account like De Quincey's Confessions. However, superseding all these investigations and their involved intricacies lies the belief that Thomas De Quincey's life and works will continue to be a source of intrigue and fascination, and that the precedents which he set down in his writing can lead to new and appealing avenues in modem observations of guilt and Gothicism in Romantic literature.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available