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Title: Eschatology in a time of war : the poetry of H.D. and Robert Lowell
Author: Al-Mahdawi, Abeer Othman Khalaf
ISNI:       0000 0004 6497 5958
Awarding Body: Durham University
Current Institution: Durham University
Date of Award: 2017
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Abstract:
The first half of the twentieth century was a fertile time for poetry with a new form and new content to match the sweeping changes of modernity. There is no doubt that the traumatic experience of two world wars had a profound effect on the art and culture of the time, urging writers to fathom the deep and disturbing ways in which war impacted upon the human spirit. This was a huge challenge, and an opportunity at the same time, for American poets to forge a new personal and authentic vision in response to political, cultural and intellectual changes, particularly within the context of religious belief. The thesis examines the work of H.D. and Robert Lowell, two American poets who were greatly preoccupied with war and its aftermath. Like many writers at that time, they were interested in the eschatologies of traditional religious beliefs and their role in changing people’s perceptions in trying times. Both poets write from the perspective of a Christian upbringing, but in their poems they articulate non-conformist eschatological visions, the formation process of which varies between revising, inverting or even negating these old conventions. They seek to delineate a new understanding and a new interpretation of orthodox eschatological and apocalyptic models, so as to relate more intensely and effectively with the momentous upheavals of the modern era. The purpose of the study is to shed light, within a personal and artistic framework, on the differences and similarities in the ways that the two poets approach the theme of war, focusing primarily on the poems written during or immediately after the Second World War. The thesis starts with an Introduction, which explores the significance of eschatology and the appeal of apocalypse in the modern age, especially in a time of war and catastrophe. The Introduction also touches upon the significance of bringing these two poets together in a single study. The first chapter presents H.D., a first-hand witness to the First World War, and her Imagist poems written during and after that war; while the second chapter discusses two of her most important collections of poems, What Do I love? and Trilogy. Written during the early 1940’s, the two books respond to the Second World War through syncretizing a modern feminine faith from different traditional systems of beliefs. Similarly, Lowell is designated two chapters. Chapter Three explores the poet’s presentation of an inverted version of the eschatological convention of Puritan Calvinism, his ancestors’ faith. His first two volumes, Land of Unlikeness and Lord Weary's Castle, written also during the early 1940’s, are discussed in this chapter. The last chapter of the thesis tackles Lowell’s important and well-known volume, Life Studies, written in late 1950’s, during the period of the Cold War. This work shows Lowell, the confessional and manic-depressive poet who, despite relinquishing his faith and (with it) his earlier poetic style of the 1940’s, is still preoccupied with war. The thesis claims that his modern spiritual eschatology is hidden under the mask of secularism and sceptical faith. It concludes with a Coda that sums up its main findings.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.732463  DOI: Not available
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