An implicit continuum: Elegiac impulses and poetics of loss in nineteenth-century British poetry

2005 2005

Other formats: Order a copy

Abstract (summary)

This dissertation is an examination of nineteenth-century British elegiac poetry. It focuses on poems written by both Romantic and Victorian poets—William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Percy Bysshe Shelley, John Clare, Lord Alfred Tennyson, Emily Brontë, James Thomson (B. V.), Thomas Hardy—and argues that much of nineteenth-century British poetry is elegiac, even when the poems are not strictly elegies by form. The last four decades of critical discussions of the elegy and elegiac writing have tended to focus almost exclusively on the psychological interpretations of the written word within the confines of the conventions of the genre. Throughout this period of stagnation, students and scholars of the elegiac vein have by and large been spoon-fed with this mainly Freudian theoretical bent which has been spearheaded by the psychoanalytic critic Peter M. Sacks. In an attempt to construct an alternative critical perspective that detracts from this psychoanalytic methodology, I explore varying attitudes to loss that elicit elegiac responses in the form of elegiac impulses.

My dissertation also works to bridge the conventional divide between the Romantic and Victorian eras which too often results in oversimplifications. I believe it is essential to see not only the ruptures, but also the continuities of the elegiac traditions throughout the nineteenth century. The unique differences between the two eras are certain and well documented. However, little has been said about the textual, thematic, and stylistic value of elegiac poems written throughout the century in question. I argue further that there is a long-neglected need for a distinct delineation of the intrinsic characteristics of nineteenth-century elegiac poetry through a number of specific paradigms. At this juncture, I divide nineteenth-century elegiac poetry into two main conceptual categories: sense of loss and elegiac response, where the former derives from and operates upon the paradigms of either physical death or the idea of death (i.e. perceptual death), while the latter works through the paradigm of either silence or tautology and circularity. In the final analysis, the nineteenth-century poet's inherent preoccupation with absence and the void and his/her response to loss becomes manifest in the form of elegiac impulses, and ultimately creates its distinctive watermark that is visible to the discerning eye by virtue of its tautological and circuitous pattern.

Indexing (details)

British and Irish literature
0593: British and Irish literature
Identifier / keyword
Language, literature and linguistics; British; Elegiac; Loss; Nineteenth century; Poetics; Poetry
An implicit continuum: Elegiac impulses and poetics of loss in nineteenth-century British poetry
Ozkilic, Ismet
Number of pages
Publication year
Degree date
School code
DAI-A 66/06, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
0542198126, 9780542198120
Keefe, Robert
University of Massachusetts Amherst
University location
United States -- Massachusetts
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
Access the complete full text

You can get the full text of this document if it is part of your institution's ProQuest subscription.

Try one of the following:

  • Connect to ProQuest through your library network and search for the document from there.
  • Request the document from your library.
  • Go to the ProQuest login page and enter a ProQuest or My Research username / password.