Lowe, Katie Jemma (2011)
M.Phil. thesis, University of Birmingham.
This thesis explores the relation between the works of Djuna Barnes and T.S. Eliot, largely through the lens of his preface to Nightwood, in which he claims that Barnes’ novel possessed ‘the great achievement of a style, the beauty of phrasing, the brilliance of wit and characterisation, and a quality of horror and doom very nearly related to that of Elizabethan tragedy’ [Barnes, 1985: 7]. For both authors, the tragic was a means of expressing two polarities of human experience – the primal, and the divine. Both, however, rely upon a pre-linguistic sensation that underpins both constructed and instinctual mechanisms of society. The relations of the family, and of gendered identities, therefore, are revealed as central paradigms for thinking about Barnes’ and Eliot’s works. These schemes of relation may also be observed on a wider scale for both authors in their approaches to their literary and historical genealogy. The presence of the past in both authors’ works is undeniable, creating an intertextual web of connections which can be viewed as constraining, or liberating; as an oppressive past that may never be overcome, or as a springboard from which to progress.
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