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Thomas Hardy Reappraised

Thomas Hardy Reappraised: Essays in Honour of Michael Millgate

Copyright Date: 2006
Pages: 256
  • Book Info
    Thomas Hardy Reappraised
    Book Description:

    InThomas Hardy Reappraised, editor Keith Wilson pays tribute to Millgate's many contributions to Hardy studies by bringing together new work by fifteen of the world's most eminent Hardy scholars.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-5748-9
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Keith Wilson
  4. Introduction
    (pp. ix-2)

    This collection of new essays written by fifteen of the world’s most eminent Hardy scholars in honour of Michael Millgate, University Professor of English Emeritus at the University of Toronto, offers in the frequency with which his name is invoked in its bibliographical citations graphic testimony to the magnitude of his contribution to the study of the life and work of Thomas Hardy. Most of the textual, critical, and biographical resources that these essays take for granted as an essential context for serious discussion of Hardy’s work did not exist when Michael Millgate began his career as a Hardy scholar....

  5. 1 The Gospel According to Hardy
    (pp. 3-19)

    In February 1920, when he was in his eightieth year, Hardy received an invitation to be included in Joseph McCabe’sA Biographical Dictionary of Modern Rationalists. His reply, sent over Florence Hardy’s signature, no doubt surprised McCabe: ‘[Mr Hardy] says he thinks he is rather an irrationalist than a rationalist, on account of his inconsistencies. He has, in fact, declared as much in prefaces to some of his poems where he explains his views as being mere impressions that frequently change. Moreover, he thinks he could show that no man is a rationalist, and that human actions are not ruled...

  6. 2 ‘My Scripture Manner’: Reading Hardy’s Biblical and Liturgical Allusion
    (pp. 20-37)

    Hardy’s always complex relationships to texts and culture become still more complex when the text in question is the Bible or the Book of Common Prayer. To quote from or allude to a sacred text, even to the extent of a single resonant term, necessarily brings the concept of the sacred into play, and for Hardy that concept was fraught with difficulty, because he was always travelling away from belief in the sacred without ever quite leaving it behind. His 1890 note, ‘I have been looking for God 50 years, and I think that if he had existed I should...

  7. 3 Hardy and Hamlet
    (pp. 38-54)

    If Shakespeare was the writer who most influenced Thomas Hardy’s literary work,Hamletwas the most influential play. It is cited in at least nine novels (and three short stories), more perhaps than any other play, exceptRomeoandJuliet.¹ Hardy began early as aHamletcritic, when at age twelve he read ‘Shakespeare’s tragedies for the plots only, not thinking much ofHamletbecause the ghost did not play his part up to the end as he ought to have done.’² Here the schoolboy’s disappointment at the let-down of a ghost story coincides with one of the critical cruxes...

  8. 4 Literary Allusion: Hardy and Other Poets
    (pp. 55-77)

    Hardy’s cultural allusion is lavish and uneven, sometimes superfluous and naive, sometimes enriching and resonant. The range of his references to poets includes arbitrary or superficial allusion, pondered quotation or reminiscence, and imaginative engagement or dialogue with writers and texts.

    InThe Life of Thomas HardyPaul Turner spots literary allusion everywhere, in plot, subject, and characters.¹ His examples valuably illustrate Hardy’s wide reading but tell us little about the quality or resonance of the allusion. Looking at influences rather than sources in the poetry, Samuel Hynes and Kenneth Marsden use different criteria and material to conclude that Hardy’s extensive...

  9. 5 Hardy’s Subterranean Child
    (pp. 78-95)

    The recent speculation that Hardy may have authored or coauthored a group of child-poems previously attributed to Florence Hardy has rekindled old questions about the nature of his engagement with childhood.¹ Are the ‘six helpless creatures’ described as ‘captives’ of ‘the two Durbeyfield adults’² and the wizened Father Time, an Ancient Mariner in a little boy’s body, truly the quintessential figurations of the Hardy child they are often adduced to be? Does not the depiction of such ‘little captives’ conform with the insistence, in poems such as ‘The Unborn,’ ‘In Childbed,’ and ‘To An Unborn Pauper Child,’ that infants might...

  10. 6 Written in Stone: Hardy’s Grotesque Sublime
    (pp. 96-117)

    Since Thomas Hardy is the son of a stonemason and an architect with a professional interest in Gothic design, it is not surprising that stone monuments, statues, and other objects figure in his writing, nor that among his characters are stonemasons who write upon stone and whose bodies are written upon by their labour.¹ Stone is also an inevitable motif for a writer interested in the temporal record and in the ‘reading’ of evidence of all kinds.² Hardy depicts ancient buildings and monuments as a kind of writing that must be preserved, urging for example that the government take responsibility...

  11. 7 The Erotics of Dress in A Pair of Blue Eyes
    (pp. 118-135)

    The action ofA Pair of Blue Eyestakes place during 1864–7; thus there are six or eight years between the setting of the novel and its first publication in 1872–3 as a serial inTinsley’s Magazine. The eleven monthly episodes were accompanied by illustrations, which provided for the earliest readers the most direct evidence of the appearance of Hardy’s characters.¹ One detail not often noticed is that the artist clothed the heroine Elfride in the fashion of 1872 rather than 1864, something that alert contemporary readers must have noticed, as hooped dresses, essential in 1864, had disappeared...

  12. 8 Hardy’s Rural Painting of the Dutch School
    (pp. 136-153)

    Thomas Hardy first published a sensation novel; then, by his own account, he published a painting. Though his works are famous for their visual effects, onlyUnder the Greenwood Tree(1872) – subtitled ‘A Rural Painting of the Dutch School’ – is explicitly characterized as a picture. By identifying his second published novel with the art of the Dutch, Hardy sought to capitalize on strengths that his earliest critics had identified in his work, even as he self-consciously called upon a well-established tradition of associating such painting with the realistic novel. Indeed, long before there was novelistic ‘realism’ there was ‘Dutch painting’:...

  13. 9 Individual and Community in The Return the Native: A Reappraisal
    (pp. 154-173)

    Michael Millgate’s magisterialThomas Hardy: His Career as a NovelistplacesThe Return of the Nativein the context of Hardy’s admiration for William Barnes’s work, especially Barnes’s poems in Dorsetshire dialect. Hardy admired the linguistic accuracy of those poems, as well as Barnes’s deep understanding of local Dorset customs. As is proper for a biographical study, Millgate also placesThe Return of the Nativein the context of Hardy’s life, for example, his nomad existence with his wife at the time he was writing the novel. Hardy and his wife moved from temporary dwelling to temporary dwelling. They had...

  14. 10 The Woodlanders and the Darwinian Grotesque
    (pp. 174-198)

    Thinking aboutThe Woodlanders, it is hard to shake from the mind certain recurring images, and the pervasive sense that the citizens of Little Hintock (well, most of them) are deeply and significantly involved in nature — green thoughts in a green shade — except that Little Hintock has its nonwoodland strangers, or returned natives, who know, it seems, very little greenness. The unmistakable corporeality of the book’s characters does not keep them from seeming as well embodiments of ideas — not in any traditional allegorical sense, but as very much creations of an imagination imbued with the sentiment of reality and a...

  15. 11 Plato and the Love Goddess: Paganism in Two Versions of The Well-Beloved
    (pp. 199-218)

    1997, the centenary of the publication of Hardy’s ‘last’ novel,The Well-Beloved, saw the appearance of a new edition, prepared for Penguin Classics by Patricia Ingham. It was notable because it was the first to couple the accustomed book version of the story with its serial predecessor,The Pursuit of the Well-Beloved, which had been issued in weekly instalments in theIllustrated London Newsover the last three months of 1892. Although it has been possible to compare the two versions at any time since 1897, for most of us that has entailed access to a major library. So it...

  16. 12 Aesthetics and Thematics in Hardy’s Volumes of Verse: The Example of Time’s Laughingstocks
    (pp. 219-244)

    I would imagine that few readers of this essay will have sat down to the pleasure of reading straight through one of Hardy’s volumes of verse as a book. Likewise I would imagine that rather fewer of the teachers and professors who may read this piece will have assigned a book of Hardy’s poems to be read by a class of students. We do not commonly encounter or even think about Hardy’s poems as literary texts available to be read as constituents of an authored book that has a title, an individual history, often an authorial preface, and an organizational...

  17. 13 Hardy and the Battle God
    (pp. 245-261)

    When critics write about modern war poets, they rarely mention Thomas Hardy. In our time, just past the end of a century of wars, we takewar poetto mean a poet who was a soldier first, who learned about war by fighting before he wrote about it. The war poems that matter are the ones that take us where we have never been, into the unimaginable experience of war. What was it like? we ask the poet. Tell us, you’ve been there, you know.

    Hardy had not been there. He never saw a war, never heard a bullet fired...

  18. 14 Opening Time: Hardy’s Poetic Thresholds
    (pp. 262-269)

    Broadly speaking, Hardy’s ways of opening a work of fiction lean towards the traditional and the conservative, while his ways of opening a poem are often original, innovative, and – to make use of an epithet with a peculiarly Hardyan resonance – idiosyncratic. This is perhaps no more than a specific instance of the general truth, no less true for being a platitude, that he is a Victorian novelist and a modern poet; but it seems worth looking more closely at the distinctive nature of that originality, and the focus of this essay will be on the first word or words of...

  19. 15 Thomas Hardy and the Powyses
    (pp. 270-286)
    W. J. KEITH

    John Cowper Powys’s first publication,Odes and Other Poems(1896), contains an effusive and indifferent poem addressed to Thomas Hardy.¹ The young writer duly sent a copy to Hardy, who not only acknowledged it but invited him to visit Max Gate. At that first meeting, John Cowper was bold enough to ask Hardy and his first wife to pay a return visit to Montacute to meet his parents along with his younger siblings, and the Hardys – rather surprisingly, we may feel – accepted. The whole story is told with characteristic vitality in John Cowper’sAutobiography.² So began Hardy’s complex relationship with...

  20. Selected Checklist of Hardy-Related Publications by Michael Millgate
    (pp. 287-290)
  21. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 291-296)
  22. Index
    (pp. 297-304)