University of Leicester
U214999.pdf (9.63 MB)
Download file

The twilight of the gods : the poetics of a post-mythic age

Download (9.63 MB)
posted on 2014-12-15, 10:37 authored by Scott Edward Freer
This thesis attempts to define a tradition of post-mythic literature. It aims to demonstrate that Nietzsche's claim that in a secular world God is dead, yet we continue to live under the shadow of myth. Each chapter is a detailed analysis of a key writer's ambivalent attitude towards the poetics and metaphysics of myth. Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus demonstrates how two methods of reading a violent Ovidian tale anticipates a progressive or regressive use of myth in the twentieth century. This can be seen in Nietzsche's Thus Spake Zarathustra which reveals a need to overcome myth as a dogmatic metaphor. On the other hand, T.S. Eliot's 'The Waste Land' expresses the nihilistic despair of an age severed from the symbolic roots of traditional mythology. In the twentieth century the notion of myth is bound up with contrary forces, and Conrad's Heart of Darkness helped to establish a myth of the divided self to metaphorically displace the horror of human violence within a civilizing system. Against a context of systematic or over-transcribing rationality, Kafka's work returns to a mythic use of animals to preserve a sense of the scared within the existential self. Wallace Stevens and Bob Dylan, demonstrate how a return to faith is linked to an aesthetic that is deeply embedded within the metaphysics of God.


Date of award


Author affiliation


Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD



Usage metrics

    University of Leicester Theses