Swain, John Francis
'His own privacý: Frederic Manning: a critical and historical analysis.
PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.
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This thesis sets out to establish the fact that Frederic Manning is a writer whose work, hitherto regarded as too limited in its scope, its quantity and its quality to be exceptional, is actually diverse, productive and highly articulate, therefore justifying him a notable places in literature. The reasons given for that previous estimate are considered, and countered.
The study commences with an introductory chapter briefly covering the main events in his life, particularly in relation to his literary development. Then follow three chapters which discuss his writing, genre by genre - his poetry, minor prose works, and major prose works. In particular the chapter on his minor prose works covers ground not previusly examined in such detail, being devoted to his reviews and his other critical writing, ranging through classical literature, and all eras of English literature, as well as through his critiques of noteworthy writers in French and Italian literature. In this genre Manning applies his knowledge, drawn from his outstanding breadth and depth of reading, to his theoretical appreciation of literature, while generally applying its practical value throughout his own creative writing.
Previous analysts have been satisfied to deposit Manning among late Victorian adherents to Arnoldian standards, who yet somehow managed to write The Middle Parts of Fortune, seen by them as an aberration from the norm. This study makes the case for his progression from the Pre-Raphaelites and the Aesthetes/Decadents of the nineteenth century, to a Modernist trend in him, traced from the originality he perceived in William Morris, Thomas Hardy, J.M. Synge, Henri Bergson’s philosophy, and in his fascination with twentieth century developments in dramatic construction. The conclusion reached is that, based on the diversity of material and consistent quality of Frederic Manning’s canon, his reputation as a writer will increase as further research comes to be devoted to his many-faceted life and works.
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