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Thomas Lovell Beddoes and the Germanic setting

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Harrex, A (1965) Thomas Lovell Beddoes and the Germanic setting. Research Master thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

The present thesis is a study of hitherto neglected
aspects cf the work of the English poet and dramatist
Thomas Lovell Beddoes (1803-1849). His major work,
Death's Jest Book, was written in Germany; the adult
years of his life were spent in this country and in Switzerland,
and the literature and thought of the German
writers of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries
influenced the treatment and the plot of Death's Jest Book.
Beddoes received little or no recognition in his
lifetime and not all the facts about his years on the
Continent have yet been discovered. The Introduction
therefore is devoted to establishing the sources for
biographical and textual matters.
Part One is biographical: a discussion of the life
of the poet, his early works, and of the origin of the
problems which led him to begin the writing of Death's
Jest Book, a play whose development through twenty years
of writing and revision is inseparable from that of its
author. Hie later political career and suicide are
treated in less detail.
Part Two is devoted to a new interpretation of
Death's Jest Book in terms of four main themes. The first two sections, A and B, discuss the source of the
plot, its connect1ons with the English revenge drama,
and the later revisions of the play which are an index
of the changes in the poet's view of life. Section C
concerns the themes of folly, revenge and power and
liberty, whose development is inextricable from the plot,
and the theme of death, associated with the motif of the
Dance of Death, is treated separately from page 86 onwards.
Part Three attempts to evaluate the nature and extent
of the German influence in the play in the four
categories named in the Contents. The first discusses
the general concept of irony, demonstrates Beddoes' use
of Dramatic Irony, and defines the German concept of
Romantic Irony, derived by Beddoes from three sources
and adapted to the demands of his play. The summary
of this section endeavours to answer some of the questions
posed by Part Two C's discussion of the play,
mainly that of its unity or lack of it. Three B discusses
the influence of Novalis's theory of Magic Idealism
on two passages of the play and associated matters;
Three C is concerned with specific sections of the play
which may or may not have been influenced by the works
of German wr1ters, mainly Goethe, Schiller and Tieck,
and endeavours to establish the general nature of this
influence; Three D concerns the version of Act 1 of
the play and its relation to the German chronicle form,
concluding with a word on linguistic influence
to be detected in the language of the play.
The Conclusion attempts to sum up the findings of
the preceding two sections and relates Beddoes' work to
the more general problems of the Romantic movement as
a perspective of judgment.

Item Type: Thesis (Research Master)
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Date Deposited: 17 Feb 2009 02:21
Last Modified: 11 Mar 2016 05:56
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