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Title: James Thomson, Anglo-Scot : a reconsideration of his works in relation to the Scottish background
Author: Scott, Mary Jane
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1979
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James Thomson (1700-1748) has long held an important place in English literary studies. He and his poetry have been the subject of much critical and biographical comment from his own time to the present. Yet almost no critical attention has thus far been directed toward the distinctive influences which the poet's Scottish background had upon his work. In fact, Thomson spent the first, formative twenty five years of his life in Scotland. This thesis, which is both a biographical and a literary-critical study, attempts to discover the Scottish influences - literary, environmental, religious, cultural and educational, social and political - on Thomson, to examine his works with these in mind, and to show how his "Scottishness" helped to shape his poetic art. Chapter I poses the nature and extent of the "problem" of critical failure to deal with Scottish influences on Thomson; it surveys 250 years of Thomson criticism, and moves toward a broader, working definition of literary "Scottishness" than has traditionally been applied. Chapter II re-evaluates the poet's youth in the Scottish Borders, placing him in a Scottish landscape and considering early Scottish Calvinistic and literary influences. In Chapter III, juvenile biography continues, dealing with Thomson's ten years in the Scottish capital as Divinity-student and apprentice-poet, with special attention to the literary milieu of early eighteenth-century Edinburgh. Chapter IV is a detailed study of the juvenile poems written during these significant years in Edinburgh. Chapters V and VI consider the various Scottish influences on The Seasons. Chapter V treats of The Seasons as a poem of natural description, and as such a part of the Scottish tradition. Chapter VI examines the Scottish aspects of The Seasons as a religious-philosophical poem, as a neoclassical poem, and as a socio-political poem, and also discusses the poetic language of the poem, especially with regard to vernacular humanistic and Scots dialect influences. In Chapter VII, a view of Thomson's life as a Scot in London completes the biographical work of the thesis; his Liberty and dramas are examined in this context. In Chapter VIII, Thomson's last major work, The Castle of Indolence, is shown to maintain vital continuities with the poet's Scottish background, particularly in its religious-didactic purpose, allegorical conception and poetic language. The brief concluding Chapter IX outlines the extensive influence which Thomson himself exerted over subsequent Scottish poetry.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available