Edward Thomas as the Superfluous Man

September 8, 2020

This talk considers Thomas’s depiction of himself in his autobiographical prose and poetry as a ‘superfluous man’ in the light of new ideas about social welfare during the late 19th and early 20th century.

It will argue that Thomas’s deployment of this archetype from Russian literature offers a critique of a narrow concept of social progress focused on Liberal-productivism and imperial expansion, as well as allowing him to voice his doubts about his own usefulness. Ultimately, Thomas finds in literature, and especially in poetry, a way of reconnecting to both the cultural and natural environments of the time.