AbstractsPhilosophy & Theology

Images of the maker : the artist-character in the English novel, 1837-1944

by Jennifer(Jennifer Sheila) Livett

Institution: University of Tasmania
Year: 1984
Keywords: English fiction; English fiction; Artists in literature; Characters and characteristics in literature
Record ID: 1033190
Full text PDF: http://eprints.utas.edu.au/20209/1/whole_LivettJenniferSheila1986_thesis.pdf


The title of this thesis, Images of the Maker, has been chosen to suggest that during the period 1837 to 1944, the artist-character in the novel emerges as a significant reflection of the various writers' thoughts about creation, both artistic and divine. This study looks at artist-characters in the belief that they can shed light on individual novels and suggest interesting connections between apparently disparate works. Although any discussion which includes the social and religious placement of the artist-character must take note of such difficult abstractions as "culture," "aesthetics," and "metaphysics," the approach through history or philosophy has been avoided as far as possible. The aim has been to concentrate on ideas revealed by the texts themselves. In the first chapter, the artist-character in novels of the Victorian period is examined. Changes in attitude towards the artist as Romantic stereotype are shown to be connected with both Christianity and science. From the basis of issues established here, Chapter II discusses Henry James's concern withthe morality of art in its relation to life. This is seen as central to his artistic endeavour. The chapter explores the manifestation of this concern in a variety of artist-characters. The quite different artist-characters of Wells, Bennett, and Galsworthy, analysed in Chapter III, support the notion of a split in attitudes at the turn of the century. However, while there is much in the work of these writers to confirm the general view of them as philistines, undisturbed by the tensions which produce the aesthete or naturalist, their approach to the artist (particularly as architect) shows their concern with the social relevance of art. During the discussion in the first three chapters, the nature of the artist's difficulties in the early twentieth century begins to emerge. This leads to a consideration of the novels of Forster, Woolf, and Lawrence. The last chapter, on Joyce Cary's first trilogy, suggests ways in which an understanding of the artist's transformations during this period can help to give critical bearings for an assessment of the post-modernist novel, in which the writer's struggle with his own creation has been a persistent theme.