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Exile and the poet: a study of the theme of exile in the poetry of Saint-John Perse

Little, John Roger Graham (1969) Exile and the poet: a study of the theme of exile in the poetry of Saint-John Perse. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



Against a background of the geographical removes in Alexis Leger's life, solitude and its variations are traced through the work of his alter ego, Saint-John Perse. Exile is seen as a constant in the human condition of which artists have become increasingly aware since the Industrial Revolution. Beyond reference, through sympathy, to other literary and historical exiles, Perse expresses the concept through images, examples of which (salt, trees, the sea-shore etc.) are studied in detail to show how they become the 'objective correlatives' of the theme safeguarding the poet against abstraction. The dialectic of exile shows particularly in the image of the threshold, expressed in various spatial and temporal terms, which is seen as fundamental to both Perse's mode of thinking and his poetic, the very precariousness of the here and now heightening awareness. An encyclopaedic vocabulary and verbal ambiguities both reflect this preoccupation in their different ways. Exile is the gap richly filled by Perse's two fold attention: to the world around him and to the language through which he communicates his experiences. A study of the wealth of his observation and poetic techniques therefore derives directly from the theme and, by showing the positive pole, defines it by contrast. Thus various paradoxes, both bio graphical and poetic, are resolved through the key images of exile used by the poet as mediator- Staticity is compensated by dynamism; deprivation by enthusiasm. Exile precedes exhilaration. Appendices include early articles by Perse not previously reprinted or mentioned in bibliographies, and a listing by category, with definitions, of his rare and technical terms.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Date:1969
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:14 Mar 2014 17:08

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