The desire and pursuit of the whole: pattern and quest in the novels of Rose Macaulay

Crawford, Alice (1990) The desire and pursuit of the whole: pattern and quest in the novels of Rose Macaulay. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Desire and pursuit of the whole is the theme which animates all Rose Macaulay s fiction. Her literature-rich childhood nourished both an interest in mysticism and an ambition to write poems. It is in her verse that we first see emerging her careful symbolism of quest, her obsession with pilgrims who seek the elusive goal of insight perfectly achieved. The fascination is evident in her six earliest, image-studded novels in each of which she traces a protagonist s development from innocence to maturity. The multiple symbolisms of mysticism, Platonism, Hermeticism and Christianity are juggled to produce a complex iconographical subtext to the stories of growth towards perception. While Rose Macaulay s novels of the First World War period change sharply in tone, veering towards a new mood of pragmatism, the theme of the pursuit of the whole remains clear. Now, however characters are shown realising that the "whole" is an unrealisable dream which they must, in the interests of good sense, decline to chase. They must limit their quests to the practically achievable. Satire lightens her most well-known fiction of the inter-war years, allowing her to complicate her work with the new elements of ambiguity and irony. Still convinced that the individual s impulse to search for wholeness is essential, she now combines here conviction with a satirical perception that the quest is pointless. Her field widens in these intricate, paradoxical novels and it becomes evident that her interest in the personal "pursuits of the whole" of her characters is paralleled by her anxious interest in the quest of the post-war world itself for civilisation.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0080 Criticism
P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Critical Studies > English Literature
Supervisor's Name: Anthony, Mrs Susan
Date of Award: 1990
Depositing User: Mrs Marie Cairney
Unique ID: glathesis:1990-41157
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 11 Apr 2019 16:05
Last Modified: 11 Apr 2019 16:07

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