The artist as outsider : a comparative study of James Joyce, André Gide and Thomas Mann : with particular reference to 'A portrait of the artist as a young man', 'Les Faux-monnayers' and 'Dr Faustus'
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""The Artist as Outsider" certainly is a very popular subject for literary criticism. Nevertheless, I have chosen it believing strongly that there are two points which I can make and which have not been made before: The first point consists in showing how strong the intermediary position of Joyce, Gide and Mann, through their treatment of the outsider theme, between the nineteenth-century literary tradition and a completely new era were. The second point consists in showing how the three authors' experimentation with form is intrinsically linked with the actual subject of the novels-the outsider position of the hero. Let us first consider this "intermediary position": In the Romantic and Symbolist tradition it is indeed very common to find the author mirrored in his work of art, mirrored a bit self-complacently as somebody who is not understood and who, because of his unfavourable environment, either fails to fulfil his vocation or becomes more and more estranged from the society he lives in. As in Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray, the artist is not only seen as a decadent deviant figure, but also as a doomed and tragic character. Lombroso and many others had developed theories according to which the creative artist was "bound" to be afflicted by some deviation, be it disease, crime, or anything else which is suspicious to the average bourgeois. Baudelaire and Poe were known to have taken drugs in order to depart from this world and have experience beyond, in a fantastic, imaginative realm. As I try to show, most of these clichéd themes were taken up in the three novels of my choice. But at the same time - and this is less obvious - a new view of the artistic creativity and the outsider phenomenon was interwoven: according to the traditional view, the artist becomes an outsider because of his eccentric qualities; according to this new view, however, the outsider position comes first. The individual is no longer born with his artistic vocation and becomes eventually estranged from his fellow men, because of these "artist-qualities", but his estrangement is innate-and therefore only he is destined to be artistically creative. Cause and effect are, in this new argument, interchanged. The view of the outsider character as an intrinsic part of some rare human beings' existence announces heroes like Meursault and Roquentin who are outsiders par excellence and whose tragic ends are only explicable by the fact that they refuse to fulfil their destiny which is to be artistically creative. I therefore take Meursault and Roquentin, together with some other Existentialist heroes, as failed artists who, in the way I have described, can be taken for sons of the three heroes Stephen, Adrian and Edouard." -- From the Introduction
Thesis, MLitt Master of Letters
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