Elizabeth Madox Roberts: Her Symbolism and Philosophic Perspective
Rovit, Earl Herbert
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The work of Elizabeth Madox Roberts, Kentucky novelist and poet (1881-1941), presents a problem in valuation. Her early novels, particularly The Time of Man (1926) and The Great Meadow (1930), received critical acclaim and popular success. Yet today Miss Roberts' novels are virtually neglected or given scant recognition as "regionalist." Examination shows that "regionalism" in the 1920's and 1930's was primarily a sociological phenomenon; the term "literary regionalist" proves to have little objective critical meaning, operating rather as a vaguely pejorative label . Accordingly, I examine Miss Roberts' work in terms of three questions: What does she try to accomplish? How well does she succeed? Is the achievement worthwhile? By studying her published works and her extensive private writings, it is possible to extract her philosophic and aeathetic perspectives . The intellectual profile which emerges is that of a philosophical idealist whose basis of faith is in an active perceiving imagining mind; her definition of reality is highly subjective , organic and dynamic. The primal unit ia the self-contained experiential individual, striving to grow in accordance with the principles of organic harmony - - that is to say, self-urged to become true, beautiful, and good by the natural accretions of experience. Further, this isolated individual can transcend himself, merging into something beyond himself through love, friendship, communal groupings, and aesthetic and religious experiences. In these flashes of transcendent "belongingess," individuality is not lost, but, paradoxically, greatly intensified. Happiness consists then in the most extensive creation of design on the chaos of sensation. [TRUNCATED]
Thesis (Ph.D)--Boston University
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