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Title: According to thy word : the modern Madonna in early twentieth and twenty-first century English literature
Authors: Borg Ebejer, Warren James
Keywords: Mary, Blessed Virgin, Saint -- In literature
English literature -- 20th century -- History and criticism
English literature -- 21st century -- History and criticism
Issue Date: 2018
Citation: Borg Ebejer, W. (2018). According to thy word : the modern Madonna in early twentieth and twenty-first century English literature (Master's dissertation).
Abstract: This dissertation examines the presence of the Virgin Mary in both early twentieth and twenty-first century literature. Although recourse to her has endured in both contemporary spaces of faith and the arts, her presence suffers brevity in English literature, a direct consequence of the Reformation in England which had sought to erase any memory of her with public burnings and mutilations of her statues, thereby burning up a rich tradition of poetry, fiction, drama and ballads inspired by her. Her literary image slowly recovers several hundred years later, appropriated and reformed according to her authors’ words, which this dissertation studies accordingly in the works of four writers: T. S. Eliot, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf and Colm Toíbín. Starting with T. S. Eliot, his poetry is not only a spiritual biography but a gradual development of womanhood and the Blessed Mother. The image of womankind is slowly purified with the revelation of the Virgin Mary, a silent but active figure in Eliot’s poetry who becomes a guide as well as a herald of salvation, pointing towards her Son, Our Saviour. The Virgin Mary then retracts into a more traditional and ambiguous figure in James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Ulysses, acting as both an oppressor and nurturer through May Dedalus, Stephen’s mother, and later giving up her throne to mortal woman who becomes the new object of veneration for Leopold Bloom and Stephen. Themes of motherhood and myth are strengthened in Virginia Woolf’s two women Mrs Dalloway and Mrs Ramsay, whose maternal and royal attributes combined with self-sacrifice, feasts and dinner parties resonate the two women not only with the Virgin Mary but also with pagan myth and deities, creating a sorority of sorts between Christian and pagan mothers. Mary is finally seen directly in Colm Toíbín’s The Testament of Mary as an evangelist for non-belief, and although she speaks and empowers herself, she only projects and intensifies her author’s doubting voice. Through these four writers, the Virgin Mary is revealed as an ever-changing construct reflecting both her authors and the philosophies in vogue of their time.
Description: M.A.ENGLISH
Appears in Collections:Dissertations - FacArt - 2018
Dissertations - FacArtEng - 2018

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