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Title: The theme of death in the works of Hugo von Hofmannsthal
Author: Howe, Patricia A.
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: Royal Holloway, University of London
Date of Award: 1971
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This thesis examines the development of the theme of death in individual works and in groups of related works, attempting to explain its importance as a major and unifying theme of Hofmannsthal's writing. The first two chapters treat the relationship of death and pre-existence, its symbolic use as a sign of growth and change and its metaphorical function in the poet's struggle to overcome aestheticism. The third and fourth chapters show the experimental treatment of death in the middle period of Hofmannsthal's creative life and discuss the parallel treatment of death and love. They discuss the depiction of death as a moment of ecstatic release from life, indicating that such ecstatic moments also belong to Hofmannsthal's depiction of love and of poetic creation. The fifth chapter considers Hofmannsthal's use of a traditional, Christian portrayal of death. The nature of his belief in this portrayal and his reasons for using it are examined against a background of contemporary history. The link with his earlier work is shown in the translation of figures, images and themes from personal, secular terms into specifically Christian terms. The sixth chapter is concerned with the reasons for Hofmannstnal's mystical treatment of death in the first version of Der Turm and his political treatment in the second version. It discusses his desire to establish a myth and a system of moral values in a void, treating death as the only certainty in human existence and therefore as an abiding determinant of human behaviour. The conclusion summarises the constant elements in Hofmannsthal's characterisation of the theme of death and the problems which they produce. It attempts to resolve the tension between magical-mystical and moral-didactic elements in the context of neo-platonic thought.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: German Literature