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Title: The concept of quest in Byron, Shelley, and Keats
Author: Westwood, Daniel
ISNI:       0000 0004 6424 7475
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2017
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This thesis examines the role of quest in the poetry of Byron, Shelley, and Keats. It argues that as proponents of a self-conscious quest poetry, each poet presents quest as a mode that gives shape to desire, but also one that demands scrutiny in its pursuit of potentialities. Utilising a new-formalist approach to poetry, the thesis presents these poets’ interrogations of quest as inseparable from the formal and generic qualities of their work, showing each poet locating artistic achievement in a performative approach to difficulty and struggle. Developing Harold Bloom’s argument that the Romantics create an ‘internalized’ quest-romance, I show each poet formulating their own unique sense of quest. While Byron tends towards disruption only to stop short of dismantling quest, Shelley’s quest revels in a purposeful precariousness. For Keats, quest represents a means of enacting his voyage towards capable poethood. The first chapter, on Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage III, shows Byron disrupting his quest for self-transcendence through his use of the doubling trope. Chapter two compares Manfred and The Deformed Transformed, arguing that Byron’s dramas disrupt quest by foregrounding tensions between rhetoric and achievement. Chapter three views Shelley’s quests in Epipsychidion and Adonais as galvanised by the uncertain relationship between self and other. Chapter four traces the ambiguous role of movement in Shelley’s quest, focusing on the Scrope Davies Notebook and The Triumph of Life. Chapter five, on Sleep and Poetry and Endymion, presents rhyme as central to Keats’s quest to master a longer work of poetry. The final chapter examines the Hyperion poems, arguing that Keats refigures the epic to perform his progression towards poetic authority. By placing quest centre stage in their poetics, Byron, Shelley, and Keats produce poetry that is attuned to the aspiration underpinning human experience. Though tested, scrutinised, and interrogated throughout their works, quest also affords each poet an opportunity to glimpse the loftiest heights of possibility and achievement.
Supervisor: Callaghan, Madeleine Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available