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Speech, Voice and Parable: Reading and Writing through Auden (Letters to Auden, a Reading of His Poems, and a Serial Poem of Barack Hussein Obama)

Lewis, Dennis L M (2016) Speech, Voice and Parable: Reading and Writing through Auden (Letters to Auden, a Reading of His Poems, and a Serial Poem of Barack Hussein Obama). PhD thesis, University of Essex.

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Abstract

This thesis comprises three main components: firstly, close readings and critical analyses of four major poetical works by W.H. Auden—“The Watershed”, The Sea and the Mirror, “New Year Letter”, and “In Time of War”; secondly, ten semi-informal letters addressed to W.H. Auden; and thirdly, a serial poem consisting of short and long poems based on the speeches of the public figure, Barack Obama. The thesis proposes a creative writing discipline founded on the productive and intensive exchange between reading and writing poetry, and reflection through letter writing. The chapters of critical analysis argue the following: firstly, that through his idiosyncratic handling of syntax and voice in poems like “The Watershed”, Auden introduced a new element of the uncanny into English poetry; secondly, that in The Sea and the Mirror, Auden re-evaluated his poetics and altered his poetic voice in response to a new reading public; thirdly, that in the “New Year Letter,” Auden uses tone to expand the range of his poetic voice; and fourthly, that in the sonnet sequence “In Time of War”, Auden uses parable to combine lyric and narrative elements in order to universalise the Sino-Japanese War. Some of the issues raised in the chapters of critical analysis, such as poetic truth, poetic voice, the lyric subject, and parabolic writing, are elaborated on in the letters to W.H. Auden. Finally, the Serial Poem presents 74 short and long poems produced using appropriative writing procedures. The idea that runs through all parts of this thesis is that speech, voice, and parable are crucial elements in the poetic practice of W.H. Auden, and that close attention to these three elements through all stages of this project— critical reading and writing, letter writing, and creative writing—has contributed to the development of a rich and productive poetic writing practice.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0080 Criticism
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0441 Literary History
P Language and Literature > PR English literature
P Language and Literature > PS American literature
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities > Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies, Department of
Depositing User: Dennis Lewis
Date Deposited: 29 Jun 2016 09:30
Last Modified: 29 Jun 2016 09:30
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/16955

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