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Variations in the nature of the perceived self in some twentieth century Welsh autobiographical writing in English. / Barbara W Prys-Williams

Swansea University Author: Barbara W Prys-Williams

Abstract

Analysis is undertaken of autobiographical works by seven authors who were wholly, partly or by adoption Welsh, and on whom the experience of Welshness impinged significantly. Without neglecting literary and directly investigative elements, various psychoanalytical theories have been employed to ass...

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Published: 2002
Institution: Swansea University
Degree level: Doctoral
Degree name: Ph.D
URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa42699
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Abstract: Analysis is undertaken of autobiographical works by seven authors who were wholly, partly or by adoption Welsh, and on whom the experience of Welshness impinged significantly. Without neglecting literary and directly investigative elements, various psychoanalytical theories have been employed to assist the purpose of literary enquiry. Since the function of this body of theory is strictly auxiliary to the dominant aim of literary criticism, the author has felt free to employ different appropriate bodies of theory for selected writers as seemed helpful. Specifically, the writers engaged with were Rhys Davies, Margiad Evans, B.L.Coombes, Ron Berry, Gwyn Thomas, Denise Levertov and Loma Sage. In the chapter on Davies's Print of a Hare's Foot and its drafts, the concept of narcissism is presented as being of great interpretative power. Evans's The Wooden Doctor is explored in terms of a young woman's attempt to resolve Oedipal blocks to adult development, while her Ray of Darkness demonstrates the erosion of meaningful selfhood after the onset of epilepsy. Coombes's seemingly naive work about the mining experience. These Poor Hands, is shown to be much more knowingly crafted than has previously been realised. Berry's History is What You Live, at once a celebration of the now vanished Rhondda coal-mining society and a bitter polemic, is discussed in psychological terms, without ignoring its overall elegiac purpose. Thomas's widely-read A Few Selected Exits is shown to derive its baroque power partly from his highly disturbed process of attachment in childhood. Levertov, in some ways the most accomplished and mature of these authors, is seen to have drawn on her Welsh ancestral mythology and on understanding derived from her period of Jungian analysis in producing the autobiography. Tesserae. Sage's cleverly crafted, postmodernist autobiography. Bad Blood, can be read in terms of dysfunctional object relations.
Keywords: British & Irish literature.;Biographies.
College: College of Arts and Humanities