A systematic exploration of Thomas Hardy's imaginative assimilation of particular Victorian sciences, this study draws on and swells the widening current of scholarly attention now being paid to the cultural meanings compacted and released by the nascent 'sciences of man' in the nineteenth century. Andrew Radford here situates Hardy's fiction and poetry in a context of the new sciences of humankind that evolved during the Victorian age to accommodate an immense range of literal and figurative 'excavations' then taking place. Combining literary close readings with broad historical analyses, he explores Hardy's artistic response to geological, archaeological and anthropological findings. In particular, he analyzes Hardy's lifelong fascination with the doctrine of 'survivals,' a term coined by E.B. Tylor in Primitive Culture (1871) to denote customs, beliefs and practices persisting in isolation from their original cultural context. Radford reveals how Hardy's subtle reworking of Tylor's doctrine offers a valuable insight into the inter-penetration of science and literature during this period. An important aspect of Radford's research focuses on lesser known periodical literature that grew out of a British amateur antiquarian tradition of the nineteenth century. His readings of Hardy's literary notebooks disclose the degree to which Hardy's own considerable scientific knowledge was shaped by the middlebrow periodical press. Thus Thomas Hardy and the Survivals of Time raises questions not only about the reception of scientific ideas but also the creation of nonspecialist forms of scientific discourse. This book represents a genuinely new perspective for Hardy studies.
Table of Contents
Contents: General editors' preface; Introduction; Opening the fan of time; Paganism revived?; Stories of today; The unmanned fertility figure; Killing the God; A bizarre farewell to fiction?; Bibliography; Index.
'... this work will be interesting for those concerned with the transmission of nonspecialist forms of scientific discourse as well as Hardy scholars.' Studies in English Literature 'The strengths of this book are significant: Radford's infectious enthusiasm for Hardy's novels, a clear and energetic prose style, imaginative and original readings of the novels, and a complex but plausible interpretation of Hardy's views of past cultures and their survivals... students of Hardy and the Victorian novel will learn much from it.' The European Legacy 'Radford's research opens new ways of understanding the novels. His careful readings of scenes and situations in Hardy's work demonstrate, usually conclusively, ways in which it registers Hardy's knowledge of contemporary anthropology...' Victorian Studies ’Radford's critique is exemplary criticism: a responsible, deeply researched, fresh reading of text and context, undistorted by intent to dress Hardy's work in the straitjacket of selectively applied theory. Thomas Hardy and the Survivals of Time is a work of discovery and fresh perception that deepens our understanding of Hardy's fiction and thought.’ The Thomas Hardy Journal