Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


The initial impetus for this study was two-fold: to explore the rich but relatively neglected prose works of Dylan Thomas, and to examine the numerous self-referential and metafictional instances within them. Many of the prose works contain representational forms such as dreams, fantasies, maps, books, and stories. Also predominant are a variety of artist figures, through whom Thomas explores the nature of creation and the medium with which he creates, through self-conscious acts of writing and telling. Thomas's life-long concern with the primacy of words, and his self-conscious role as an artist, have been surprisingly overlooked in his work.;Many of the early works containing biblical references are also self-conscious commentaries on writing, and on the creation of the very myths they utilize as a shaping force. The fall of man embodied in the story of Eden is often tied to a fall of language. With Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog and Adventures in the Skin Trade, Thomas moves from an exploration of word to one of story. These works differ significantly from the early stories in style and tone; they are examined both in light of these changes and in the obvious allusion to James Joyce, a relation which, it may be argued, is more complex than critics have allowed. Under Milk Wood returns to many of Thomas's earlier concerns, but in a genre that foregrounds its aurality and temporality. Blending lyric and narrative strategies, Thomas abandons his earlier solipsism in favour of democratized art.;A study of the prose also casts light on themes and techniques in the poetry. Most studies of the poems to date have attempted to resolve the contending images in the poems, often resulting in contradictory readings. The poetic that emerges in this study helps to explain the impasses in the critical debate, and the various cruxes in the poems that cause readers so much trouble, by illustrating how Thomas's conception of language and the creation of meaning is meant to accommodate conflicting readings.



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