The Tennysonian Imagination: An exploration of Alfred Tennyson’s influence on the early fiction of Iris Murdoch

Pitt, Shauna (2017) The Tennysonian Imagination: An exploration of Alfred Tennyson’s influence on the early fiction of Iris Murdoch. Undergraduate thesis, University of Chichester.

[img] Text
2017001.v2.pdf - Submitted Version
Restricted to Registered users only
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (1MB)


The philosophical poet and the philosophical novelist. The link between Iris Murdoch and Alfred Tennyson, once noticed, is too thought-provoking and complex to ignore. The present study explores Murdoch’s Tennysonian imagination and his influence upon her writing through the many similarities and differences in their treatment of common themes. Drawing mainly on The Lady of Shalott, The Bell, The Unicorn and The Time of the Angels, I investigate themes of reflections, shadows and frames, love and attention, forms and formlessness, and mythology and fairy stories. Ultimately I aim to discover what a consideration of this intertextuality and channel of influence can add to our readings of Murdoch’s fiction. Recognition of the confluence of ideas between these two authors creates innumerable relationships between the texts in focus and a new perspective through which to view all of Murdoch’s fiction. With the recent discovery of Murdoch’s unpublished poetry there is no doubt scope for a wider consideration of the impact Tennyson has had on her own poetry writing as well as a study into his impact on her mid-to-late fiction. In many instancesexplored in this essay, Murdoch adopts and develops Tennyson’s themes and characters as if it were a natural progression. I believe this is because Murdoch views the medium of poetry as a compressed, and perhaps restricted, form whereas a novel can be a space for free characters: freedom being an important concern for both authors. A thematic tracing of the relationship between Murdoch’s fiction and Tennyson’s poetry illuminates another layer of meaning and moral exposition in The Bell, The Unicorn and The Time of the Angels. The findings are both significant and rewarding, informative and enjoyable. As a piece of original research, this dissertation aims to introduce to readers the intertextual relationship between Murdoch and Tennyson. An explorative work at heart, it lays the first stone in a new area of Murdoch and Tennyson studies.

Item Type: Thesis (Undergraduate)
Additional Information: BA (Hons) English Literature
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Divisions: Departments > English and Creative Writing
Undergraduate Dissertations
Depositing User: Wendy Ellison
Date Deposited: 27 Oct 2017 10:16
Last Modified: 27 Oct 2017 10:16

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item