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Date of Award

8-1990

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

Supervisor

A.W. Brink

Abstract

This thesis argues that literary historians and critics have tended to simplify psychological influence on twentieth-century British literature by magnifying Freud's influence and neglecting earlier dynamic psychologies, including those of William James and William McDougall. Similarly, the earliest novelists to explore these "new" psychologies in their fiction have been ignored. An examination of dynamic psychologies in proportion to their impact on writers serves to place Freud's reception in Britain into perspective. The thesis then locates a major source of distortion about this influence in the tenaciousness of the modernists' claim to the "new" and their denigration of the previous generation of writers. Several of these writers actually became most knowledgeable about dynamic psychology and were the earliest to incorporate it into their fiction. Following an assessment of two of them, the Edwardian novelist, May Sinclair, and the Georgian, J.D. Beresford, the thesis shows that one of the most outspoken champions of modernism, Virginia Woolf, drew on similar ideas of pre-Freudian psychology in her earliest fiction. These ideas carry through into her modernist works. The thesis thus represents a methodological hybrid since it draws on cultural history, biography, psychology, and several genres, in order to rediscover and re-interpret literature both within and outside the canon.

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