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The Shape of Sacrifice in David Jones' Landscape of War

Svendsen, Anna (2018) The Shape of Sacrifice in David Jones' Landscape of War. PhD thesis, University of York.

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Abstract

This thesis investigates the entanglement of David Jones’ portrayal of the sacrifice of Christ with his experience of the First World War, particularly through his depiction of landscape. In the face of the jingoistic, sentimental and ironic uses of the image of Christ’s sacrifice in relation to the war amongst his contemporaries, the Roman Catholic convert David Jones was interested in the sacrifice of Christ understood sincerely as a theological mystery in relation to the war, and he reflected on his experience for nearly 20 years ‘in tranquility’ before seeking to express it in art. In the interim (c. 1919-1935), his experience both of Roman Catholic liturgy and his extensive reading and conversation in the heated early 20th-century theological and anthropological debates about the sacrifice of Christ in relation to pre-Christian sacrificial figures provided him with a radically different model for thinking about the relationship between the sacrifice of Christ and the suffering of soldiers in the landscape than the politicised rhetoric of the war. Jones’ unusual and strongly modernist sense of visual and verbal artistic ‘shape’ enabled him to portray the sacrifice of Christ as related to the war by means of immanent presence instead of according to typological ‘comparison’. He therefore relinquishes neither the horror of the war’s violence nor the hope that it can be ‘redeemed’ by the dynamic action of Christ at the source of creation permeating history. Jones presents the ravaged landscape of the war, therefore, as radiating a glimmer of Christ’s sacrifice from the hidden dimension of eternity; he presents the crucifixion of Christ, conversely, as a flourishing landscape that shows the scars of the WWI battlefield transformed by incorporation into it. His strongly sacramental sense of the function of artwork therefore seeks a real participation in the work of ‘redemption’ seen in the understanding of Christ’s sacrifice as a theological mystery.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of York > English and Related Literature (York)
Depositing User: Miss Anna Svendsen
Date Deposited: 31 Jul 2018 13:38
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2018 13:38
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/21023

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