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Title: Modes of consciousness in the poetry of Hugh MacDiarmid
Author: Langan, Mary Winifred
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 1991
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'The function of art', writes MacDiarmid in a 1926 essay, 'is the extension of human consciousness'. A preoccupation with such an extension underlies and informs the MacDiarmid poetic corpus as a whole. My concern in this thesis is to examine critically the ways in which MacDiarmid conveys his didactic purpose throughout the corpus. In the poetry of the 1920's and 1930's this purpose is expressed in essentially dramatic terms, whilst in the later poems, In Memoriam James Joyce (1955) and The Kind Of Poetry I Want (1961), it emerges in the form of laudatory catalogues and illustrative analogies. Sangschaw (1925) and Penny Wheep (1926) are the subjects of the introductory chapter of the thesis. My discussion involves the way in which MacDiarmid's concern with consciousness emerges in dramatic engagements with the natural object or through the medium of 'characters' who enact poetic preoccupations. In Chapter Two I discuss A Drunk Man Looks At The Thistle (1926) which I see as a prolonged dramatic self-enactment in the interests of an extension of consciousness. The factors which underlie the affirmative vision of the poem are considered in the context of other works of the period. To Circumjack Cencrastus (1930) is my concern in Chapter Three. I discuss the probable sources of the uncharacteristic note of dejection in the poem and the way in which the poet's loss of confidence in his ability to transform the world is reflected in the imagery, tone and structure of the poem. The significance of the political element in the corpus is the main subject of Chapter four. MacDiarmid is seen in the context of other poets who wrote politically-orientated verse in the thirties. In Chapter Five I discuss In Memoriam James Joyce (1955) and The Kind Of Poetry I Want (1961). The poet's adoption of a precursory role which involves the preparation of the ground within which a new poetry would take root and flourish - is seen as significant in the context of the structure of the poems.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available