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Order in a world of chaos: a comparative study of a central dialectic in works of Thomas Mann, Franz Kafka and Luis Cernuda

McKinlay, Neil Charles (1996) Order in a world of chaos: a comparative study of a central dialectic in works of Thomas Mann, Franz Kafka and Luis Cernuda. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

This thesis is a comparative study of three overtly unrelated authors. Thomas Mann, Kafka and Cernuda, setting them in a European context of a 'crisis of faith' where doubt in the existence of an ordered universe ultimately governed by God is becoming widespread. Rather than a philosophical or theological study, however, this thesis concentrates on the way that this loss of faith finds its expression in literature. After a brief introduction, setting the context, the focus is first of all on the way that faith in God (or some kind of Absolute) and order generally becomes lost, and the consequences of that loss in individual lives. Not surprisingly, this loss of order is grounds for despair, but what then manifests itself is a desire to find order once again. It is this desire for order which then provides the focus for the whole of the rest of the thesis. There is a desire both for absolute order and for order in the material world. Chapter two concentrates on the quest for absolute order, which would give genuine ontological security and a sense that there is ultimate meaning and purpose in the cosmos. This quest does however fail, but there are other quests for order, in both 'love' and erotic impulses and in art. The problems however continue, for 'love' is dominated by a sexuality which causes more chaos than it does order, and at its best is only transient. Similarly, art, while at times positive, at least temporarily, can divorce the artist from life and can bring him into contact with a darker, more 'chaotic' side of existence. There is also the desire to write literary works themselves, but this has problems of its own: the fluid nature of meaning and the fate of literature once it has left the control of the writer.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0080 Criticism
P Language and Literature > PQ Romance literatures
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Modern Languages and Cultures > German
Supervisor's Name: Walters, Prof. D. Gareth and Ashbrook, Mr. Bernard
Date of Award: 1996
Depositing User: Elaine Ballantyne
Unique ID: glathesis:1996-1348
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 30 Nov 2009
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2012 13:37
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/1348

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