Isaac Rosenberg: A critical study of his plays and poems.
thesisposted on 19.11.2015, 08:48 by Richard. Andersen
Isaac Rosenberg is by now a celebrated poet although very few of his poems are generally known. The purpose of this thesis is to trace Rosenberg's poetic development with close analysis, starting with a biographical study and then treating the poems in chronological order. Much space is devoted to the almost totally neglected Earlier Poems of 1905-1915, focussing on their unity and on evidence of Rosenberg's poetic growth: these poems are studied in thematic groups so that recurrent uses of words and ideas can illuminate each other. The unity of theme and treatment helps to underline the fact that in the Trench Poems the writer emerges as an artist, rather than primarily as a propagandist, which sets him almost alone among the poets of the Great War. Rosenberg's published texts are in some instances incomplete and this study will aim to correlate what is published to the unpublished versions of Moses as well as manuscript variants of a number of his poems. Close examination of these throws light both on Rosenberg's methods of composition and code of the themes and symbols which give a certain unity to his work, from its rather imitative beginnings to its climax in the plays and Trench Poems. Rosenberg's relationship with his poetic contemporaries who belonged to a different ethnic background and came from a different class are considered, and it is suggested that his comparative isolation as a poet was more a source of strength than a cause of weakness. In the course of this study it has been possible to make corrections of, and emendations to, Rosenberg's received text which, in some cases, clarify his meaning. Above all, this thesis is exploratory rather than evaluative: it was not undertaken without the realization of Rosenberg's early potentiality and final achievement as a poet.