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Durham e-Theses
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Humility and Humiliation
in the Works of T. S. Eliot and Samuel Beckett

DE-VILLIERS, ALBERT,RICK (2018) Humility and Humiliation
in the Works of T. S. Eliot and Samuel Beckett.
Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This thesis examines the proximity between humility and humiliation in the works of T. S. Eliot and Samuel Beckett. It develops a framework within which the works of the two authors are seen as complementary – though not necessarily compatible – performances of humility. This framework is literary-critical and emphasises the singularity of the work of art in nuancing the relation between humility and humiliation. Arguing both that humility impels humiliation and, conversely, that states of humiliation invite humility, this thesis traces the relation between the terms within three categories: the affective, the ethical, and the aesthetic. The authors’ respective oeuvres are also read in relation to a theological tradition within which humility and humiliation are interdependent aspects of the individual subject’s awareness of his/her fallibility. This view pits Eliot and Beckett against interpretations of humility that prize it as a social virtue, whether in the guise of modest behaviour or as a mode that drives communal endeavour. In drawing out these parallels and oppositions, the thesis asserts an understanding of humiliation as a self-reflexive and potentially positive ethical manoeuvre in bringing about humility. This study thus contributes a literary perspective to a small body of works which, in recent years, have proffered comparable conceptions of humiliation.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:T. S. Eliot, Samuel Beckett, humility, humiliation, shame, embarrassment, irony, penury
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > English Studies, Department of
Thesis Date:2018
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:16 May 2018 12:27

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