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Reading Rochester$
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Edward Burns

Print publication date: 1995

Print ISBN-13: 9780853230380

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.5949/UPO9781846317644

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‘Upon Nothing’: Rochester and the Fear of Non-entity

‘Upon Nothing’: Rochester and the Fear of Non-entity

(p.98) ‘Upon Nothing’: Rochester and the Fear of Non-entity
Reading Rochester

Tony Barley

Liverpool University Press

This chapter discusses the descriptive definition of non-entity in Rochester's poem ‘Upon Nothing’. The playfulness of Rochester relies on the promotion of a giddying sequence of mutually exclusive theories of creation and definitions of non-existence, which means Nothing features alternately as a negative and as a positive condition. ‘Upon Nothing’ is made up of several defensive strategies wherein the poet tentatively deals with his own sense of non-identity. The poet starts by juggling with the notional aspects of an external in order to protect himself from Nothing. The existence of no positive absolute, no secure ontological frame or fabric is assumed by Rochester. This version of Rochester is concerned with demystification and common-sense deflation. Rochester attempts to distinguish and distance himself from non-entity disguised as a friendly advocate of Nothing.

Keywords:   Rochester, Upon Nothing, non-entity, creation, non-existence, poem, demystification, Nothing

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