Subterranean Prose : The Thematic Similarity in the Novels of Henry Miller, Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs, and Kenneth Patchen
SubjectProse literature; English literature; Miller, Henry,1891-1980; Kerouac, Jack,1922-1969; Burroughs, William S.,1914-1997; Patchen, Kenneth,1911-1972
The problem. Mid-century brought the advent of a new upsurge of underground writing labeled "Subterranean" prose. The problem posed in this thesis was to define the function of Subterranean prose and, once defined, to investigate into any progressive qualities contained in the prose. Procedure. Investigation into Subterranean prose centered around research into the historical events of the 1940's and 1950's and into the initial underground works of the more prominent Subterranean writers, Jack Kerouac, Henry Miller, William S. Burroughs, and Kenneth Patchen. Findings. The restrictive literary and cultural climate of the time encouraged a specific mode of expression and conformity. These restrictions drove many authors underground. These four authors, notably, developed alternative literary styles with which to express similar attitudes concerning man and his environment. Conclusions. The primary function of subterranean prose on the literary continuum was to break the boundaries of conventional prose and thereby open new avenues for experimental writing. Subterranean writers attempted to jar the literary world out of the complacency of the 1950's. The thematic structure of man in search of himself and his world was developed through a wide diversity of styles so that the content of the novels was contained in the form itself.
114 leaves. Advisor: Norman Hane