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Title: This is the tenour of my waking dream : a critical study of Shelley's "The Triumph of Life"
Author: Wu, Ya-Feng
Awarding Body: University of Glasgow
Current Institution: University of Glasgow
Date of Award: 1995
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In this doctoral thesis I seek to offer a critical reading of Shelley's last major endeavour, 'The Triumph of Life', through a thorough discussion of the related themes and structures in his earlier works. The thesis first traces Shelley's mediation between his two most abiding inspirations, his 'passion for reforming the world' and his private desire to retreat. This mediation takes the form of a grand dialogue with his predecessors and contemporaries, such as Wordsworth and Byron, a dialogue in which Shelley tries to define his own position through the clashes of opposing viewpoints. A rich intertextuality as a result of the dialogue offers an analogue for Shelley's probing into the psyche through the concentric framework of reverie. His delving into the psychic realm always at the same time opens out into a reflection on the poet's role in history, which is a reflection recurrently dramatised in the figure of history-making, triumphal processions. All these discussions lead to a reading of The Triumph of Life' which is structured around the dialogue with the composite figure, Rousseau. In this vision, Shelley engages in a comprehensive investigation into the core of Western civilisation. He seeks to reformulate his earlier visions and to re-orient Dante's trilogy by maintaining his position as a purgatorial exile, where he holds on to a vision which for him is not infernal. This position is adumbrated in the unaccomplished critique of 'self-centred seclusion' in Alastor, and is achieved precariously in 'The Triumph of Life', because of the latter's unfinished state. 'The Triumph of Life' has been variously represented by commentators as either a palinode of Shelley's earlier endeavours or as a suggestion of a new direction in his idealism. The thesis attempts to show that it is the appropriate fulfilment of a career in which each of the major poems confronts its own palinode but at the same time maintains an idealism that forever refuses to compromise.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral