Date of Award

Spring 1939

Degree Type

Thesis - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




The purpose of this thesis is to look at James Branch Cabell both synthetically and analytically. So far as I am aware, no attempt to study him is as comprehensive as this, nor does any of the critical literature treat the following specific sections in as detailed a manner: Chapter III, "The Three Possible Attitudes Toward Human Life," and Chapter V, "Special Cabellien Artistic Devices." That is to say, these two chapters are original contributions, for, although their substance has been noted in other work on Cabell, they have thus far rated only an incidental sentence or two. For that matter, however, each of the several chapters of the thesis contains an amount of detail which, in similar criticism, has been previously - and, I think, sadly - neglected. Certainly, at the least, no critical work on Cabell is as long as this thesis. I have paid particular attention to Cabell's philosophy, which seems to me extremely lucid and much more logical and important than the passing jibes or seeming indifference of the critics would indicate it to be. It is not assuredly, the usual academic philosophy. Yet despite its lay presentation, it seems to me a pungent one, and immensely important in any real consideration of the Cabellian books. I confess that, in as much as most commentators rather ignore this aspect of "the author of Jurgen," concentrating instead on his individual works and his artistic presentation of them, they seem to me exceedingly negligent. I incline to believe that Cabell thinks himself as much as a novelist, a philosopher. At any rate, it is nearly certain he is more interested in the general and abstract than in the concrete.