Geoffrey Hill: poetry, criticism and philosophy

Pestell, Alex (2012) Geoffrey Hill: poetry, criticism and philosophy. Doctoral thesis (DPhil), University of Sussex.

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This thesis examines the role played by philosophy in the poetry and criticism of Geoffrey Hill. Despite countless references to philosophy throughout Hill’s critical authorship, there exists no study of any length on this vital aspect of his thought. Through close readings of
his poetry, criticism, and archival material, I attempt to demonstrate that philosophy has played a more crucial role in Hill’s work than has hitherto been assumed. Hill’s sceptical attitude to philosophy is intimately connected with his understanding of poetry as a sensate form of cognition. My thesis examines the ways Hill’s poetry and criticism responds to the challenges imposed upon this scepticism by a tradition of philosophy that emphasises the importance of the aesthetic to its analyses of modernity’s contradictions. I argue that a tradition of Anglophone Idealist thinkers, from S.T. Coleridge, via T.H. Green and F.H. Bradley, to Gillian Rose, is of sustained relevance to Hill’s work, shaping the way he thinks about politics, ethics and literature. In particular, German Idealism’s attempts to negotiate universality and particularity via an emphasis on the aesthetic bases of critical thought lay the groundwork for an understanding of poetry as a mode of cognition. Reading Hill’s poetry from For the Unfallen to Oraclau/Oracles, I try to show the ways in which problems traditionally conceived of as philosophical can be cognised in prosody and syntax. In part a vindication of Hill’s elevation of poetry over philosophy, these readings also show the degree to which Hill’s ‘craft of vision’ is indebted to conceptual and aesthetic models supplied by philosophy.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Media, Arts and Humanities > English
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature > PR0500 Poetry
P Language and Literature > PR English literature > PR6000 1900-1960 > PR6015.I4735 Hill, Geoffrey
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 17 Jun 2012 13:36
Last Modified: 16 Mar 2022 15:50

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