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'Lucky Poet' and the bounds of possibility: autobiography and referentiality in Hugh MacDiarmid's 'Poetic World'

Matthews, Kirsten A. (2009) 'Lucky Poet' and the bounds of possibility: autobiography and referentiality in Hugh MacDiarmid's 'Poetic World'. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

Due to Embargo and/or Third Party Copyright restrictions, this thesis is not available in this service.

Abstract

This thesis examines the use of collage as a form of autobiography in Hugh MacDiarmid’s Lucky Poet (1943). It traces the development of the use of autobiographical detail and the use of collage in MacDiarmid’s work from To Circumjack Cencrastus (1930) to Lucky Poet. It aims to show that though there is a clear precedent for both these elements in the earliest of MacDiarmid’s work, To Circumjack Cencrastus represented a turning point in MacDiarmid’s progression towards the use of collage as an autobiographical form, and the subsequent development of his interest in autobiography can be traced through the Clann Albann project (1931-1933) and Stony Limits and Other Poems (1934) to Lucky Poet. It examines the difference between autobiographical memory, as developed in the Clann Albann poems, and the representation of immediate experience in poems written while MacDiarmid was on Whalsay, particularly those included in Stony Limits and Other Poems (1934). Its analysis of Lucky Poet, and of the earlier works, focuses on the ideological and artistic use to which MacDiarmid puts autobiography. It includes a brief account of the place of Lucky Poet within recent critical debate regarding the autobiographical genre, but centres on a detailed analysis of MacDiarmid’s reference to Søren Kierkegaard and Lev Shestov. It shows how he developed, through reference to Shestov’s In Job’s Balances and Walter Lowrie’s biography of Kierkegaard, a concept of the suffering and self-sacrifice of the artist, and a related belief in the need to embrace – as an artist – both the danger and the freedom of Shestov’s abyss. It demonstrates how this freedom is realized in the rejection of social conventions and in the publication of unpalatable or provocative material. The thesis concludes by comparing MacDiarmid’s autobiographical writing to that of Edwin Muir and Sir Thomas Urquhart, arguing that Muir rejects the notions of self-sacrifice and rebellion developed by MacDiarmid while Urquhart, despite his distance from MacDiarmid in historical period and social class, ultimately stood for the same principles.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Due to copyright restrictions the full text of this thesis cannot be made available online. Access to the printed version is available.
Keywords: Hugh MacDiarmid, Edwin Muir, Thomas Urquhart, autobiography, collage, referentiality
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > Scottish Literature
Supervisor's Name: Riach, Professor Alan
Date of Award: 2009
Embargo Date: 26 January 2012
Depositing User: Ms Kirsten Alexandra Matthews
Unique ID: glathesis:2009-859
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 26 Jun 2009
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2012 13:27
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/859

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