Miller, David Lindsay Sean (1986)
The elusive paradise: A study of W.H. Hudson.
Full text access: Open
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.
This is a Accepted version
This version's date is:
is not peer reviewed
Deposited by () on
in Royal Holloway Research Online.Last modified on 01-Feb-2017
Digitised in partnership with ProQuest, 2015-2016.
Institution: University of London, Royal Holloway College (United Kingdom).