The elusive paradise: A study of W.H. Hudson

Miller, David Lindsay Sean


Miller, David Lindsay Sean (1986) The elusive paradise: A study of W.H. Hudson.

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I will argue in this thesis that W.H. Hudson's fiction and non-fiction share the same symbolic substructure: that of the elusive Paradise. Through attention to the concrete details of the world, in certain moments at least, Hudson apprehends an invisible or supernatural dimension. These moments might appropriately be termed epiphanic. What I shall call 'affirmative' epiphany affirms the earthly by revealing the divine through or within it; it is either directly paradisiac, or assimilable to a vision of the earthly Paradise. In contrast to the 'affirmative' epiphany, there is also 'negative' epiphany which opens up a chasm of terror and dread. Violence, affliction, and human submersion in evil are amongst the things that play into the notion of 'negative' epiphany. I will also show that, in Hudson's fiction, there are indications that evil is written into the network of chance and natural law; so that the 'darkness' or evil disclosed by 'negative' epiphany can be seen as ontologically prior to the actions of the human will. The paradisial endures as a fractured and elusive subject of experience, constantly threatened by contingency, violence, or evil. I will also show how, for Hudson, rationalistic and mechanistic ideologies (especially Darwinism) are an obstacle to consistent belief in the spiritual. In this thesis I will attempt to redress the tendency to concentrate on Hudson first and foremost as a nature writer by giving priority to his fiction, which develops the mythopoeic or symbolic aspects of his vision to a greater extent and, I will argue, for this reason involves a deeper or more profound expression of that vision. In Part One I will be using examples from his non-fiction in my examination of his fundamental concerns; in Part Two I will show how these concerns are developed at a greater depth in his fiction.

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This version's date is: 1986
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Item TypeThesis (Doctoral)
TitleThe elusive paradise: A study of W.H. Hudson
AuthorsMiller, David Lindsay Sean
Uncontrolled KeywordsEnglish Literature; Language, Literature And Linguistics; A; Elusive; H; Hudson; Hudson, William Henry; Hudson, William Henry; Paradise; Study; W



Deposited by () on 01-Feb-2017 in Royal Holloway Research Online.Last modified on 01-Feb-2017


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