All done by mirrors: reflectivity in the novels of Elizabeth Taylor (1912-75)

Crompton, Norman John Russell

July 1992

Thesis or dissertation

© 1992 Norman John Russell Crompton. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

Elizabeth Taylor's texts are elusive and allusive. Part 1 offers a biographical sketch of the writer, then applies theory, drawing on and adapting the work of Harold Bloom, Roman Ingarden, Michael Riffaterre, Linda Hutcheon and Patricia Waugh, among others, to describe and account for the bare style and the high degree of referentiality. Seven kinds of "reflectivity" are proposed, with special attention to self-reflectivity - "reflexivity." The presence of "structural reflexivity" is shown in the first novel.

Part 2 discusses the other 11 novels and one novella in pairs linked by the texts which they reflect (upon), as follows: Palladian (1946) and "Hester Lilly" are located within the Gothic tradition in women's writing, but their application of a Bloomian kenosis to its major text, Jane Eyre (1847), is noted. A View of The Harbour (1947) and A Wreath Of Roses (1949) are discussed in terms of their refusal of Woolfian "vision. " A Game Of Hide And Seek (1951) and The Sleeping Beauty are interrelated with the Grimm fairy tale. Two major characters in Angel (1957) and The Wedding Group (1968) are shown to be based on real people and their psychology to define one theme. Two Henry James novels are detected as the parallel texts for In A Summer Season (1961) and The Soul Of Kindness (1964), with two allegories also drawn in by allusion. Lastly, Mrs Palfrey At The Claremont (1971) and Blaming (1976) are contrasted in their reflectivity and the latter's application of kenosis to itself and the whole oeuvre.

Department of English, The University of Hull
Shaw, Marion
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