Date of Award

Spring 1979

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Thale, Jerome


This dissertation attempts to consolidate and extend some of the earlier studies of Charles Tomlinson by examining in detail the thematic development of his work. My intention, then, is not to offer close readings of the poems, but rather to trace and classify the larger pattern of ideas which emerges in his eight major collections of verse. These collections are unified, I believe, by their singular concern for external reality and their attempt to define man's perceptual relation with what is "outside" himself. Indeed, taken as a whole, Tomlinsori's work is a comprehensive study of the act of perception, of the various ways we know and, by extension, enter into "relationship" with the world. This epistemological interest dominates his thought from the beginning, and in whatever direction he subsequently develops, it remains at the core. After a false start in the early and uncharacteristic Relations and Contraries, Tomlinson spells out in his next two collections the epistemological, aesthetic, and ethical theories which underpin his work. Many of the poems in The Necklace and Seeing Is Believing openly expound these theories while others, with an eye to the physical world, enact the sense of "relationship" extolled in the more theoretical pieces. Tomlinson's early. writing is what he calls a "phenomenological poetry," a poetry which respects the world outside the poet by "according objects their own existence."...



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