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Title: The Gift of Death, or, Beyond the Beneficent Spider: A novel & associated critical exposition
Authors: Tew, Philip
Advisors: Thorne, M
Fulton, D
Hubble, N
Keywords: Fiction;Loss, finitude and ars moriendi;Sue Townsend, friend and writer;The Campus Novel
Issue Date: 2016
Publisher: Brunel University London.
Abstract: This thesis has three main sections, the first a full-length novel entitled The Gift of Death, the third the bibliography and two appendices. The second contains variously: a preface; a critical exposition/analysis of the preceding novel with subsections, considering in conceptual fashion three central themes: death considered through symbolic, ideological and other meanings; a positioning of the academy in the ‘Campus’ novel sub-genre; and a socio-cultural analysis of fiction as a field of production and associated struggles for entry determined by class, origin and periodic cultural preferences. The Gift of Death concerns a sixty-year-old’s attempt to write a novel. Procrastinating English scholar, archetypal baby-boomer Jim Dent, revisits the thwarted ambitions of youth. Inspired by novelist Sue Townsend’s death, once a friend, Jim recalls knowing other aspirant artists—writers and film-makers— living and dying in obscurity. He reflects upon a troubled past, on unsatisfactory elements of the present and the increasingly daunting task of composition. The Gift of Death reworks the tradition of the campus or varsity novel, detailing lives tied to the rhythms of the academy. The chapters explore various eccentrics whose lives Jim traces through tentative, inadequate notes. Expanding such recollections the narrative includes: schooldays; postgraduate studies and school-teaching in Leicester; a voyage to interview Basil Bunting; and friendships with oddball alcoholics writers, Cedric and Challis, never satisfied or fully recognized creatively. Finally, overwhelmed by self-doubt, Jim abandons his Sisyphean task. Reflecting upon failure, an unexpected turn of events associated with visiting Bunting emerges in the present, offering resolution of sorts. The Gift of Death’s primary themes/contexts are: self-reflexive, multi-chronic form; death, loss and mourning; the baby-boomer generation; struggling for professional entry into the field of fiction; lost provincial and local creativity; the juxtaposition of past and present; loyalty, friendship and memory; parental conflict; and finally procrastination and disappointment.
Description: This thesis was submitted for the award of Doctor of Philosophy and was awarded by Brunel University London
Appears in Collections:English and Creative Writing
Dept of Arts and Humanities Theses

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