Muriel Spark and the Romantic ideal

McIlroy, Colin William (2015) Muriel Spark and the Romantic ideal. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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By narrowing the disparate and often contradictory trajectories of Romantic thought into a compressed framework, this thesis seeks to scrutinise the treatment of the Romantic ideal in the fiction of Muriel Spark. A number of recurring themes can be understood to collectively constitute this Romantic ideal. These include Coleridge’s theory of the power of the imagination to coalesce disparities into unity and harmony. The relationship between creativity and psychosis in The Comforters (1957) is considered within a wider discussion on the nature of creativity and the conception of the visionary Romantic artist. This leads to an investigation of the Romantic Movement’s emphasis on interiority and the self, and the influence of John Henry Newman in The Mandelbaum Gate (1965). The resulting discussion treats the concepts of transfiguration and the sublime as they relate to individual subjectivity in The Driver’s Seat (1970). The Romantic fascination with the reinvigoration of myth, legend and oral narrative cultures is examined in relation to The Ballad of Peckham Rye (1960), and the discussion returns to unity, harmony, vision, and the artist in The Finishing School (2004). The investigation of these elements of the Romantic ideal highlights a number of corollary questions. The emphasis on the self prompts the examination of Spark’s engagement with the themes of solipsism, ego, and performance, while Keats’ ‘Negative Capability’ is considered in the attempt to comprehend the other. The methodology will be comparative textual analysis with reference to relevant extant criticism, alongside consideration of literature from anthropology and folklore studies. By illuminating previously overlooked connections with Romanticism and Romantic literary methodologies, this interdisciplinary approach will assist in ascertaining whether Spark’s sustained engagement with these themes is evidence of a complex, multivalent relationship with the Romantic ideal, or whether recent criticism positing her rejection of Romanticism can be upheld.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Muriel Spark, Romanticism, the self, solipsism, postmodernism, folklore, anthropology, myth, Catholicism, Coleridge, Newman.
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0080 Criticism
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Critical Studies > Scottish Literature
Supervisor's Name: Carruthers, Professor Gerard and Brown, Dr. Rhona
Date of Award: 2015
Depositing User: Mr Colin William McIlroy
Unique ID: glathesis:2015-6439
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 10 Jun 2015 09:05
Last Modified: 08 Jun 2018 08:45

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