Some uses of pastoral: from Marvell to Wordsworth

Martinez, Aurora Faye ORCID: 0000-0001-8524-4837 (2021). Some uses of pastoral: from Marvell to Wordsworth. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This doctoral thesis reconsiders the histories of pastoral, from Neoclassical accounts to those more recent, which have been based upon the notion of pastoral as the depiction of shepherds and the uses to which that depiction is put. It reexamines the Neoclassical concept of pastoral derived from the essays of Rene Rapin and Bernard le Bouvier Fontenelle about the aesthetic character of simplicity which the methods of depicting the lives of shepherds lent to such writing, and so recalled the innocence of the Ancient shepherd and the ‘Golden Age’ of Antiquity. It attends to the exclusion of Andrew Marvell’s satiric renderings of pastoral from accounts of its history because its methods of representing the action of its ‘shepherds’ gave them a sinful character made palpable in the witty manner with which they offered philosophical insights about their perceptions of that action. This thesis discusses a succession of satiric renderings of pastoral that begin with Marvell and t ake Milton’s Paradise Lost (1667) as a point of departure. It turns to similar renderings in manuscript and print of Alexander Pope, James Thomson, and Joseph and Thomas Warton, and the responses of William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Through this, it offers a new concept of pastoral as a mode in which the images and underlying ideals of Ancient examples of it provided a system of meanings that allowed later writers to examine the succession of poetic responses to them, and so, formed the habits of mind with which they perceived their corrupted societies. By studying the manuscripts and annotated books of the noted poets, this project demonstrates how those habits allowed them to engage in critical discourse, which measured the values of each historical period, and those that held them, against the ideal of moral innocence of which pastoral simplicity is representative. This thesis shows how pastoral enabled self-reflexive writing through which each poet derived meanin g from his subjective responses to earlier pastoral, and the recurring insights in it about each culture which preceded his, as compared with the constant nature of men. This thesis thus presents such patterns of interpretation as evidence in its study of pastoral from which to form the new concepts of genre and literary history it offers.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of English, Drama and Creative Studies, Department of English Literature
Funders: Other
Other Funders: College of Arts and Law Graduate School
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature


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