Williams [i.e. William] Carlos Williams : imagist, cubist, (objectivist)?
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The main problem addressed in this dissertation was whether the three movements of Imagism, Cubism, and Objectivism can be said to have had a decisive role in the poetic development of William Carlos Williams in the period between 1917 and 1923 when three of his major works, AI Que Quiere!, Sour Grapes, and Spring and All, were published. In order to determine this, the manifestations of the principles of these movements in Williams' poetry published during this period were investigated on both a synchronic and a diachronic level. Firstly, the concepts surrounding these movements were defined within context of the wider 'movement' of modernism. From these definitions, a number of working definitions were constructed by means of which the poetry in the three identified books could be analyzed. In the three subsequent chapters, the poems in each of the three books were analyzed carefully in order to identify the manifestations and influences of the three movements in Williams' poetry of this period. This was done respectively in terms of Imagism, Cubism, and Objectivism, focusing on the inherent characteristics or principles of the three movements. What emerged in terms of imagism was that the principles of brevity, direct treatment of the object, and new rhythms are most common to the earlier poems in this period, while those of immediacy, simple language, and hardness permeate most of the poetry of the period. While the imagist principles dominate more in the earlier poetry, however, they are somewhat overshadowed in the majority of the later poems, especially those of Spring and All. The manifestation of the principles of cubism, on the other hand, can be seen to permeate the majority of the poems in the three books, becoming more complex and structured towards Spring and All. The shaping force of this movement emerged most strongly in the use of edges and juxtapositions as well as in the use of intersecting lines and planes and in the persistent de familiarization of the poems. It further emerged that most of the predominantly cubist poems in the three books contain a large degree of design in synthesis that points to a style that closely resembles that of the synthetic cubism in the visual arts. The elements of objectivism that are manifested in Williams' work were mostly studied as 'premonitions' of the movement, due to the context of the period in which the poetry was produced. It nonetheless appeared that the increasing design and structure in Williams' synthetic cubism develop into an objectivist style where objectivity, precision, austerity, and specifically the autonomy of the object dominate. This proved to some extent to be true of certain poems in the two earlier books, but pronouncedly so in Spring and All. Finally it was concluded that Williams developed an increasingly strong personal poetics that incorporates many of the principles of the three movements, such as a concern with the new, resulting in poetry that depends on the shaping influences of the movement to some extent, but that ultimately originates a style that moves towards a concentration of perception and emotion in structure.
- Humanities