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Hardyan Ruins in John Cowper Powys’s "A Glastonbury Romance" (1932) and "Maiden Castle" (1936)

Abstract : These two novels by Powys are rich in ruins whether as visual motifs or as citations. Powys sees the Christian, Roman or pre-historic ruins that can be found everywhere in Wessex sometimes in a rather traditional way, sometimes in a more personal one. They testify to the eternal cycles of ‘rising and falling cultures’ (Spengler) and as such Powys considers them as a welcome harbinger of the future collapse of modern ideologies and of the technological inventions he abhorred. They are awesome traces whose auratic qualities (W. Benjamin) can be mystical, thus stressing the underlying contact between an age of human life and another. Thus the message of ruins in Powys’s novels often echoes the message of ruins in Hardy’s texts even if with slight differences. In fact, Powys considered Wessex as a sedimentation of ruins but also as ‘a sedimentation of texts’. A Glastonbury Romance draws from the Arthurian legends and Maiden Castle, which takes place in Dorchester, starts almost in the same way as The Mayor of Casterbridge. In fact, in this Wessex country, Hardy’s texts come to the fore and Powys’s novels, which also deal with the questions of legacy and heritage, illustrate the extent to which ‘every text is derivative’ (J. J. Lecercle) and is as such a call for the reader’s own interpretation, in the same way as ‘the spectator is forced to supply the missing pieces from his or her own imagination’ (Christopher Woodward) in front of ruins.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, July 3, 2019 - 10:00:43 AM
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Florence Marie. Hardyan Ruins in John Cowper Powys’s "A Glastonbury Romance" (1932) and "Maiden Castle" (1936). Études britanniques contemporaines - Revue de la Société dʼétudes anglaises contemporaines, Presses universitaires de la Méditerranée, 2012, pp.43-52. ⟨10.4000/ebc.1319⟩. ⟨hal-02171643⟩

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