Dissertation > Literature > Literary Theory > Countries in Literature

An Intertextual Interpretation of the Hollow Men

Author MaXueJiao
Tutor WangYanWen
School Yanshan University
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords intertextuality The Hollow Men history culture
CLC I712.072
Type Master's thesis
Year 2013
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Thomas Stearns Eliot is one of the most influential and representative poets, playwriters and critics in European and American modernistic literature in twentieth-century.With a large number of allusions, rich artistic methods and profound realistic meaning, hismasterpiece The Waste Land is regarded as the mile stone of modernistic poetry. In1948,he won the Nobel Prize in literature by virtue of Four Quarters. His literary and criticaltheories exert a great influence on the modernistic literature and even the literature today.The Hollow Men which was created in1925inherits the theme of The Waste Land. Itreveals the situation of the postwar western society where the civilization began to vergetowards its decline and the belief encountered the crisis. The poem depicts the empty anddesperate mental state of people in western society in depth. The previous studies on TheHollow Men mainly focus on the images, humanity and the literary ideology of T. S. Eliot.On the basis of the theory of intertextuality, this thesis will interpret The Hollow Men inboth the broad and the narrow sense.Because of the outbreak of the World War I, the western society confronted withenormous economic loss and serious belief crisis. The Hollow Men faithfully depicts theturbulent society and the psychic trauma brought by the war at that time. Except for thehistorical context, the writing of The Hollow Men is deeply influenced by the religioustransition of Eliot, metaphysical poetry, modernism and other cultural elements. Inmodernism, French symbolism, imagism, irrationalism and stream of consciousness allinfluence the composition of the poem profoundly.First of all, the author generally introduces the life and literary achievements of T. S.Eliot and the research goal, significance and methodology of this thesis. Then the authorintroduces the research of The Hollow Men and the applications of the theory ofintertextuality at home and abroad which lays solid foundations for this thesis. After abrief illustration of the development of the intertextual theory, this thesis explores thehistorical and cultural elements as intertexts that have an effect on the composition of TheHollow Men through the broad theory of intertextuality. In addition, this thesis adopts the“intertextuality” and “hypertextuality” in Genette’ s theory of “transtextuality” to analyze the intertextual devices in The Hollow Men in the narrow sense, such as quotations,allusions, parodies and pastiche.This thesis shows that as intertexts, the historical and cultural factors have animmense influence on the composition of The Hollow Men from the choice of the theme,the writing techniques to thought background. And the analysis of the intertextual devicesin The Hollow Men will enrich and complement the research on the poetry content and thebackground. The intertextual reading of The Hollow Men not only deepens people’sunderstanding of its realistic significance and cultural connotation, but also contributes tohighlighting its artistry and aesthetic value.

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