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Title:William Carlos Williams And The Pursuit Of "paterson"
Author(s):Barry, Nancy Keating
Department / Program:English
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Literature, Modern
Abstract:In 1946, William Carlos Williams published the first book of Paterson, a five-book poem which would consume his creative energies until his death in 1963. By his own admission, Paterson was an "impossible poem" for Williams to write, a "magnum opus" toward which he had been "gradually maneuvering a mass of material for years." This study--based on an examination of all available Paterson manuscripts--provides a detailed genesis for the poem, and defines its actual date of composition as substantially earlier than the publication of Book One in 1946. The manuscripts and drafts of Paterson reveal that Williams designed the poem early in the 1900's, and accumulated various versions, notes and "plans" in a largely chaotic and idiosyncratic fashion. Many critical evaluations of the poem assume that it is the work of Williams' later career, and interpretations of Paterson typically conclude that its form, structure, and imagery replicate the poet's final creative period. In charting as accurate a chronology for the poem as possible, I argue the importance of seeing Paterson in light of Williams' drafts and revisions between 1910 and 1946. Such revisions show that Williams was far more successful at imagining the poem's shape and coherence than he was at composing it; in the end, he far preferred Paterson as an idealized text, always new to the page and his own desire to "begin again." Chapter One provides an overview of the existing problems in pursuing such a study, outlines the various critical interpretations of the poem, and discusses how an awareness of the process Williams went through in composing Paterson demands a re-examination of critical assumptions that have frequently determined readings of the poem. Chapter Two, "The Lyric Impulse," describes the way in which Williams relied on various lyric poems to underscore the entire structure and content of Paterson. Chapter Three examines the importance of Williams' 1939 text "Detail and Parody for the Poem Paterson," and Chapter Four analyzes the relationship between Williams' work in the theatre and the drafts of Paterson.
Issue Date:1986
Description:214 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1986.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8610904
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-15
Date Deposited:1986

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