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    Intertextual poetics: the modernist poetry of Anthony Burgess

    Mann, Jonathan David (2013) Intertextual poetics: the modernist poetry of Anthony Burgess. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.


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    This dissertation offers a series of exegetical readings of short and long poems by Anthony Burgess, with the aim of establishing the extent to which this poetry participates in Modernist and Postmodernist traditions. Beginning with Burgess's poems of the 1930s, the thesis discusses all of his major poetic works until 1993. Making extensive use of unpublished manuscript material, this is the first thesis to treat poetry and verse drama (including translations) as a discrete area of Burgess's literary production. As such, the thesis significantly extends the critical enquiries of previous scholars. Having identified specific poetic influences, the thesis addresses the poetic effects of the intertextual techniques used by Burgess. His poetry and writing about poetry are accounted for chronologically, and a selection of longer texts are discussed in detail. Influential Modernist poets are found to practice a range of techniques which Burgess parodies and pastiches with serious intent. Burgess is found to use Modernist techniques throughout his literary career, and to apprehend tradition through a conservative version of Modernism. Burgess's later poetry is shown to be self-reflexive and formalist in ways which are identifiably Postmodern. In texts such as Byrne, St. Winefred's Well and The End of Things, Burgess reassesses his relationship with Modernism, and intertextuality itself becomes a key preoccupation. Arguing the case for Burgess as a transitional late Modernist poet, the thesis charts the development of Burgess's engagement with Modernism and Postmodernism, and proposes that the two are interdependent rather than antithetical.

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