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Title: Stevenson, Frye, and the structure of romance
Author: Rennie, Alistair
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2003
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This thesis looks at the work of Robert Louis Stevenson in the context of Northrop Frye’s theory of archetypes and at the operations of the conventions of romance in relation to structuralist and post-structuralist theories of narrative. It proposes the unsustainability of the traditional or institutionalised model of romance provided by Frye and considers, through Stevenson’s essays and fictions, the development of romance as a modern idiom. Using Frye’s ideas as a basis for further study, this thesis seeks to demonstrate that romance is a progressive rather than conservative mode of fiction. Through the ideas expressed by Stevenson in his various guises as an author and theorist, it presents a theory of romance as a genre in which the functions of narrative undergo their most radical shifts and deviations from the conventional bases of form. Following the lead of his essays, it is shown that Stevenson’s romances deliberately set in motion a system of conventional elements which, while they produce a dynamic narrative structure, tend also to exceed the sustainable limits of the structures they are engaged in. By no means aimless, these activities represent an attempt by Stevenson to recreate ‘the certain almost sensual and quite illogical tendencies in man’ which, he says, occasion the formation of romance, but which are paradoxically incompatible with the logical conditions of romance as a conventional mechanism. Consequently, it is demonstrated that, if Frye represents the culmination of romance as a ‘tradition’ (or a point at which the structure of romance can be audited and catalogued as a tradition), Stevenson, acting prior to Frye, represents a point at which the underlying assumptions of this tradition are preclusively denied.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available