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Durham e-Theses
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T. S. Eliot: Turning Darkness into Light

ASCIUTO, NICOLETTA (2015) T. S. Eliot: Turning Darkness into Light. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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Author-imposed embargo until 18 September 2022.

Abstract

This thesis examines the use of light and dark imagery throughout T. S. Eliot’s literary career; in his poetry (Inventions of the March Hare, Prufrock and Other Observations, The Waste Land, Ash-Wednesday, Four Quartets) and in his dramatic works (The Rock, Murder in the Cathedral, The Family Reunion). The aim of this thesis is twofold. Firstly, it aims to show how, by an attentive analysis of light and dark imagery in Eliot’s works, it is possible to discern a continuous pattern of light and dark correlation and opposition throughout his oeuvre, which can be interpreted in historical, biographical, and existential terms. Secondly, this thesis seeks to explain poetry qua poetry, with the light and dark imagery proving a remarkable path of investigation, in which to understand Eliot’s poetry and its important relationship with his own literary “debts”. If, on the one hand, many critics have considered the importance of light and dark imagery in Eliot’s most significant poetical work after his religious conversion, Four Quartets, as an important turn to mysticism and religion, this has too often been perceived as a sudden change in his beliefs and in his poetics, rather than as a gradual development. The presence of light and dark images in Eliot’s early poetry, as well as in his earlier masterpiece The Waste Land, shows how Eliot had consciously imagined a path of light throughout his oeuvre, demonstrating his own preoccupations with regard to soul, rationality, and religion from his very early years as a poet. This thesis thus wants to fill a gap in the field of Eliot studies, where the importance of light and dark imagery in Eliot’s early poetry, as well as in his drama, and the connection of light and dark in Four Quartets with his other literary works, has been underestimated by previous scholars.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > English Studies, Department of
Thesis Date:2015
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:10 Mar 2015 10:08

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