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The Worshipper's Half-Holiday: G.K. Chesterton and Parody

SHALLCROSS, MICHAEL,RONALD (2014) The Worshipper's Half-Holiday: G.K. Chesterton and Parody. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This thesis constitutes the first study of G.K. Chesterton’s status as a theorist and practitioner of parody. Employing a combination of original archival research, historical contextualisation, theoretical analysis, and textual close reading, I demonstrate that an extensive range of parodic strategies permeate Chesterton’s diverse output, from his detective fiction, to his nonsense verse, journalism, novels, and critical essays. I particularly focus upon elaborating the affinity of Chesterton’s work with the literary and cultural theory of Mikhail Bakhtin, in relation to the latter’s principle of dialogism, and his account of the parodic basis of the carnivalesque. In this context, I interpret The Man Who Was Thursday (1908) and Father Brown (1910-1936) as archetypal dialogic and carnivalesque texts. Reading Chesterton in this way not only produces a unified framework through which to understand his aesthetic method, but also enables a far-reaching reassessment of his relationship to aesthetic programmes that he opposed. In particular, I discuss his parodic engagement with the ascendant tropes of literary modernism, employing archival research into his youthful friendship with E.C. Bentley and close textual analysis of his later relationship to T.S. Eliot to trace the chronology of Chesterton’s interaction with diverse voices of cultural modernity. In pursuing this analysis, I use the simultaneous inscription of similarity and difference encoded within the parodic act as a means of questioning compartmentalising approaches to genre and literary history which militate against accurate valuation of essentially dialogic thinkers such as Chesterton. In this way, I apply Chesterton’s work as an exemplary model through which to develop a more comprehensive theory of the culturally disruptive operation of literary dialogism.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:G.K. Chesterton; parody; satire; nonsense; modernism; T.S. Eliot; Mikhail Bakhtin; carnivalesque; dialogism
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > English Studies, Department of
Thesis Date:2014
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:30 May 2014 09:02

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