Resurrection, renaissance, rebirth: religion, psychology and politics in the life and works of Daphne du Maurier
thesisposted on 02.04.2009, 09:26 by Melanie J. Heeley
This thesis looks at the life and works of Daphne du Maurier in the context of the inter-related ideas of religion, psychology and politics. Throughout, I use a methodology based on the concept of the palimpsest. But I also use theory provided by Jung, Plato and Nietzsche – all of which were known to du Maurier to a greater or lesser degree. Other theory is used occasionally, but only as it suggests itself in the context under consideration. The ideas of ‘Resurrection, Renaissance and Rebirth’ give the thesis a structure and a theme. The interaction of Christianity and Paganism is also examined. Section One, ‘Introduction – Resurrecting Texts/Lives’, introduces the idea of the palimpsest. In reality, this is a twice-written document frequently containing a Christian text which is written over a Pagan one, with the Pagan text resurrecting itself over time. In theory, the palimpsest is a textual space where disparate texts collide and collude in an involuted manner. Section Two, ‘Life and Text – Renaissance Inspired Men’, looks at two men who drew their inspiration from the Renaissance as either age or idea - the socialist Victor Gollancz and the conservative Frank Buchman - and to what degree du Maurier interacted with both the people and their conceptual framework. Section Three, ‘Life into Text – Renaissance Men’, concerns itself with du Maurier’s biographies of two Renaissance brothers, Anthony and Francis Bacon, and how their lives have been read, gnostically, by herself and others, notably The Francis Bacon Society and Nietzsche. Section Four, ‘Spectralised Lives in Text - Rebirthing’, examines how the foregoing discussion plays itself out in two of du Maurier’s novels, Jamaica Inn (1936) and The Flight of the Falcon (1965). The chapter on Jamaica Inn looks at Celtic Revivalism and how the Celtic gods spectralise the characters of the novel leading to a rebirthing experience for the protagonist Mary Yellan – implicit in this is the concept of the Renaissance-as-idea. The chapter on The Flight of the Falcon shows how the Renaissance-as-age daimonises characters of the twentieth-century. The palimpsest as either a document or a theoretical perspective weaves itself in and out of all my chapters. Section Five, ‘Concluding Remarks’, leads to two related conclusions, firstly that du Maurier has been spectralised by the Renaissance, and secondly that du Maurier’s life and works, taken together, can be read as an involuted palimpsest.
- The Arts, English and Drama
- English and Drama