Diaper, Jeremy Charles Rupert (2011)
M.Phil. thesis, University of Birmingham.
This thesis examines T. S. Eliot’s Four Quartets in relation to figurative music. The introductory chapter explores the relationship between music and literature within the context of modernism, highlighting the diversity of recent criticism as well as reassessing the plethora of previous musical approaches to Four Quartets. The thesis itself is centred on three key concepts which are interlinked throughout: vers libéré, musicality and belief. In discussing the question of musicality, it explores the relationship between music and vers libéré in Eliot’s work. It highlights the similarities between Ezra Pound’s ideas on poetry, melopoeia, absolute rhythm and Eliot’s conception of a freer verse form and ‘the music of poetry’. It also investigates the influence of the French Symbolists, linking Eliot’s method of conveying spirituality in Four Quartets with the musical aesthetic of French Symbolism. Finally, this thesis suggests that Eliot’s use of figurative music in Four Quartets resolves the tension between poetry and belief seen in his previous works. It concludes that even in Eliot’s different approaches towards the musicality of poetry there is an underlying thread that links them together, and that this is integral to the way in which Eliot conveys his Christian beliefs in Four Quartets.
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