The poetry of an artificial man : a study of the Latin and English verse of Robert Southwell
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The subject of the thesis is the verse of Robert Southwell, both in Latin and English. It may be divided broadly into three sections corresponding to three main areas of interest. First, there is a discussion of the character of Counter-Reformation, or to be more precise, of Jesuit Poetics, which is largely based on the 'De poesi…' of Antonio Possevino, a leading Jesuit scholar and educationalist. There follows an account of the Latin verse which Southwell wrote abroad before his return to England in 1586. The third and most substantial part of the thesis is an account of the English poetry which is given in four chapters. First, following a discussion of the textual situation, Southwell's shorter poems are discussed as a coherent and intelligible sequence. Next, there is an account of the distinctive character of Southwell's poetry as revealed in its recurrent themes and images. Here the continuity between the Latin and English verse is examined. Next there is an account of Southwell's masterpiece, 'Saint Peters Complaint', which is seen as the fulfilment of Southwell's poetic career, and as a microcosm of his poetic work, drawing together in a compact unity elements scattered and divided amongst the rest of his work. Finally, an attempt is made to identify Southwell's best poetry, and to give detailed readings of his best poems, with the intention that Southwell may be better represented in anthologies and literary histories. A brief conclusion suggests that artificiality, which in contrast with previous readings is seen as a central element of Southwell's poetry, is relevant to understanding his life also.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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