Robert Southey's kaleidoscope: The Doctor, &c
thesisposted on 2023-08-30, 16:10 authored by Sabina Akram
This thesis investigates the last text published by Robert Southey, The Doctor, &c (1834-1847), and argues that while Southey may have moved to political conservatism as he grew older, his writing became even more radically experimental. Southey’s text is a kaleidoscopic fusion and includes a range of topics that consists of the plot of Doctor Daniel Dove, autobiographical elements, Southey’s religious and political views, historical retellings and musical compositions, which have all been embedded within a postmodern narrative. The reason for this research is that, while other influences on Southey focus predominately on his early works, life or politics, the concept that The Doctor, &c demonstrates early postmodern characteristics and self-reflective portraits has been neglected. Five topics are identified within this thesis: identity, autobiography, postmodernism, religious politics and fairy tales, which combined establish the central argument that Southey’s text contains a kaleidoscope of ideas all combined together to create his most experimental composition. By examining the contextual background, The Doctor, &c is likened to Christopher Smart’s The Midwife, Or Old Woman’s Magazine (1751-1753) and recognises that the original tale of Doctor Daniel Dove first appeared within Smart’s periodical. Close readings of Southey’s letters and the text itself draw out comparisons, which indicate Samuel Taylor Coleridge urged Southey to write The Doctor, &c. I argue that Coleridge was the primary link that connected Southey and Smart and, essentially, The Doctor, &c was formed on the basis of collapsed projects between Coleridge and Southey. Subsequently, this thesis demonstrates that the idea for the text occurred as early as 1807 and written throughout Southey’s life until the first volume was finally published in 1834.
InstitutionAnglia Ruskin University
- Accepted version