University of Leicester
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The late agnostic : William Bronk as religious poet

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posted on 2014-11-06, 09:43 authored by James Marian Bober
This thesis examines the poetry of William Bronk (1918-99). Through close readings of individual texts and broader thematic explorations it demonstrates that Bronk can and should be viewed as a religious poet. In agreement with previous scholars, via original thematic and formal comparisons of the poets’ work, it positions Bronk as a poet of the sublime and a follower of Wallace Stevens. Based initially on distinct differences in the ideas expressed by Bronk and Stevens, it progresses to demonstrate that Bronk should be understood in a context of postmodernity, and reveals key parallels and similarities between his work and that of notable post-structuralist theorists. It offers the first sustained and detailed overview of the unique place that sleep and dreaming hold in his poetry. These aspects of the discussion variously contribute to a fuller understanding of Bronk as a religious poet. The later chapters of the thesis offer an important overview of the development of his religious outlook, from his first published work in the 1950s to his death in 1999. This is vital to understanding the poetry because previous published criticism has invariably presented a single religious or atheistic stance and overlooked the often contradictory theological dialogue sustained across his poetry. The thesis therefore provides a critical overview of his changing ideas of God, and their interaction with concepts of life and the self, identifying key moments in their development. Beyond original contribution to the existing knowledge and critical understanding of Bronk’s work through original close readings of many poems from across his career, and the hitherto unremarked explorations of its post-structuralist character, the general argument of this thesis – that Bronk is a religious poet of positive agnosticism – will aid all serious readers of his poetry.



Everett, Nick

Date of award


Author affiliation

Department of English

Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD



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