Santayana's first sonnet sequence, 1883-1893: the genesis of his mature philosophy



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This thesis is an initial study of George Santayana's first sonnet sequence, 1883-1893, which establishes that the sonnets are poetic expressions germane to Santayana's mature philosophic concepts of materialism, naturalism, and piety as evidenced primarily in the volumes of his major prose works. Scepticism and Animal Faith and Realms of Being. Santayana's early materialism and naturalism, as these ideas are originally disclosed by his unflinching scepticism, are magnified in his mature prose. This thesis does not imply that a rigid parallel exists, but simply indicates that Santayana's interpretation of the basic premises of naturalism and materialism, which remained so important to his thought were present in his early development and may be isolated in the passages of the sonnets. Santayana recognized that within the poems could be found the genesis of his ideas, and in 1923, despite the serious objections of his publisher, Charles Scribner's Sons, he prepared a new edition of the poems. In the preface of the 1923 edition of Poems, Santayana refers to the subject of his poetry as his philosophy in the making. He considers the poems to be the fountainhead of his philosophy. Chapter I is essentially a brief history of the background of Santayana's ideas, and is primarily concerned with establishing that the continuity of his materialism, naturalism, and his concept of reverence as natural Greek piety, can be traced in his literary and autobiographical efforts. Chapter II is a summary of Santayana's mature philosophical concepts which have a direct relationship to the ideas present in the first sonnet sequence. Chapter III is a presentation of the parallel ideas evident in the early poems and in the mature prose volumes. Scepticism and Animal Faith and Realms of Being. My conclusions are presented in Chapter IV.