Shaping, intertextuality and summation in D.H. Lawrence's Last poems

Jones, Bethan Mari (1998) Shaping, intertextuality and summation in D.H. Lawrence's Last poems. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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This thesis, entitled ‘Shaping, Intertextuality and Summation in D. H. Lawrence's Last Poems’ , is the first full-length study of the poetry written by Lawrence in 1928-30, posthumously labelled ‘More Pansies’ and ‘Last Poems’ by Richard Aldington in 1932. My opening chapter discusses the characteristics of these two late poetry notebooks, challenging interpretations offered by Holly Laird and Christopher Pollnitz. I argue for the necessity of moving beyond an analysis limited to the consideration of poem sequences within a verse-book, or the evolution of individual poems through draft-stages. This conviction provokes a discussion of intertextual theory, in order to establish an approach which will facilitate the placing of Lawrence's late poetry in wider contexts. The resulting methodology aims to combine an empirical selection procedure in which intertexts are chosen according to key triggers or signposts within Lawrence-text, with an awareness that such selection is arbitrary, constituting an inevitable retrospective ordering.

Chapters 2-7 each focus on a specific text, area or genre in which significant intertextual assimilation is identified. In chapters 2 and 3, four crucial poetic precursors - Keats, Shelley, Swinburne and Whitman - are discussed, both in relation to Lawrence's blatant allusions, and in terms of the insidious ‘weaving’ of precursive text into Last Poems. Chapter 4, emphasising that intertextuality should be recognised as spanning genre divisions, focuses on the significance of the pre-Socratic fragments published in John Burnet's Early Greek Philosophy. Chapter 5, also foregrounding prose intertexts, discusses three relevant anthropological works: E. B. Tylor's Primitive Culture, James Frazer's The Golden Bough and Gilbert Murray's Five Stages of Greek Religion, in relation to the poems advocating a conscious 'return' to different modes of writing and living. In Chapter 6 the term ‘intra-textuality’ (self-borrowing) is introduced, with Sketches of Etruscan Places as the focus. Lawrence's writing (in addition to his wide reading) on the Etruscan civilisation is seen to underlie fundamental mythological aspects of Last Poems. Intra-textuality remains the focus of Chapter 7, which discusses Apocalypse (the only major work written by Lawrence after Last Poems) as well as numerous related intertexts, in order to illuminate Lawrence's use of key apocalyptic symbols in the late poetry.

The concluding chapter considers whether or not the posthumously imposed title Last Poems is appropriate, and whether this ‘body’ of verse can be treated justifiably as a summation of Lawrence's life and/or art. The short prologues to the 1930 edition of Birds, Beasts and Flowers, and the prose poem 'Fire', are brought into play as texts which succeed Last Poems, taking Lawrence's (freeverse) poetry writing in new directions. My interrogation of the concept of ‘fastness’ provokes a consideration of the implications of creative immortality and the possibility of different kinds of renewal, or ‘fresh starts’.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Worthen, J.
Keywords: D.H. Lawrence, English literature
Subjects: P Language and literature > PR English literature
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Arts > School of English
Item ID: 12028
Depositing User: EP, Services
Date Deposited: 10 Jun 2011 10:10
Last Modified: 15 Dec 2017 05:27

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