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Title: Poetry and thought : a study of the major poetical works of Abraham Cowley
Author: Fonge, Marinus E.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2002
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The commendable revival of seventeenth century poetry at the start of the twentieth century neither generated sufficient scholarly interest in Abraham Cowley nor restored his ailing reputation. Motivation for this study therefore comes from the thoroughgoing need for a comprehensive study of the works of Cowley, whose reputation was considered by his contemporaries to be as secure as that of any English poet before him. Our aim is to interpret his poetry by means of a closer reading than previously afforded in light of the forces that shaped this thought and literary practice, discerning in the process how he left such a mark on his age and why this imprint remains indelible for us. The best way to effect a study on Cowley’s works, as Jean Loiseau and to some extent David Trotter showed in the twentieth century, is still to respect the divisions the poet himself made when grouping his poems in different compartments, thus encouraging a separate approach to each of them. But Loiseau wrote in French and his work is part biographical and part textual criticism. Trotter’s work is limited in scope, because its attempt to show how the historical process that brought “a change in the conditions of thought” is restricted to Cowley’s 1656 Poems, thereby ignoring the impact of the 1660 Restoration event of unsurpassable historical interest. Our study addresses this lacuna as it covers Cowley’s works through the Civil War, the Interregnum and the Restoration on a scale attempted only by Loiseau, revealing in the process the historical, political, and intellectual forces that condition his thought and thereby shape his poetry. In addition, we being to the different sections propitious literary approaches to analyse the works in a manner as yet unattempted. Finally, our chronological arrangement of material suitably reflects Cowley’s evolution of thought; more especially, by respecting the formal divisions we show how these help him resolve a life-long search for true poetic forms.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available