UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The imaginative development of Edwin Muir Anderson, Rosemary Margaret


The poems and novels of Edwin Muir are closely linked by their themes and images, and the insights reached in the mature poems resolve the problems implicit in the earlier, less successful work. Despite its thematic unity, however, Muir’s poetry is not the expression of a conscious, systematic view of the world, but a sustained attempt to create a sense of the depths inherent in human experience. His poems aspire not towards a statement of truth, but towards a sense of total presence, in which being is infused with consciousness. The experience of presence is reached through the imaginative experience of absence, when the barriers between the mind and the world seem insurmountable. The thesis examines the growth and resolution of this dualistic vision of life, with its roots in Muir’s early experience. His years of poverty in Glasgow forced him to see man's misery and degradation, yet in his dreams he experienced states of limitless union and freedom, which seemed to show that the human being is not bound by time and circumstance. Muir's creative phase began in Germany, when his reading of German poets and novelists helped him to set his experience of suffering and deprivation within an imaginative vision of life.

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