Thomas Hardy is now universally regarded as one of the most important novelists and poets of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. His works often reflect—and helped to create and reinforce—a relatively dark vision of human life, a vision highly characteristic of his era. This volume explores numerous works by Hardy from a rich variety of perspectives. Essays examine his writings by relating them to history, philosophy, sociology, economics, gender, and, especially, aesthetics.
This book, even more than most in the Critical Insights series, might justly be called an exercise in “critical pluralism.” Critical pluralists think that the best approach to any work of literature is one involving multiple approaches—multiple ways of looking at a text from many different angles. The present work deliberately examines a multitude of works by Thomas Hardy from considerably different points of view. This is especially true in the varied essays offering surveys of the opinions of numerous critics about various works either by, or inspired by, this important writer.
The volume starts out with an introductory essay by John Rignall where he comments on two of Hardy’s poems as well as surveying many of the key issues raised by his writings in various genres, including his novels. This is followed by a brief biography of Hardy by the volume’s editor, Robert C. Evans. Lastly, there are four Critical Context essays:
- The Alpha-Male in Novels by Thomas Hardy, by Tracy Hayes
- Thomas Hardy: An Introduction and Overview, by Brandon Schneeberger
- The Well-Beloved as Anima: A Sketch of a Psychological Archetype, by S.G. Ellerhoff
- Tragedy, Comedy, and Chance in Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd, by Edwin Wong
Next comes the Critical Readings section of this book, which contains the following essays:
- Modern Figures in an Ancient Landscape: The Return of the Native, by John Rignall
- The Unstable Male in Hardy’s Novels, by Tracy Hayes
- Thomas Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd: A Survey of Introductions to Modern Editions, by Robert C. Evans
- Thomas Hardy’s The Return of the Native: A Survey of Introductions to Modern Editions, by Robert C. Evans
- Thomas Hardy’s The Mayor of Casterbridge: A Survey of Editorial Introductions to Modern Editions, by Joyce Ahn
- Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles: A Survey of Editorial Introductions to Modern Editions, by Joyce Ahn
- Thomas Hardy’s Jude the Obscure: A Survey of Introductions to Modern Editions, by Robert C. Evans
- The 1967 Film of Thomas Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd: A Survey of Reviews, by McKenna Odom
- The 1979 Film of Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Ubervilles: A Survey of Reviews, by Kelly Snyder
- The 1996 Film of Thomas Hardy’s Jude the Obscure: A Survey of Reviews, by Robert C. Evans
- The 2015 Film of Thomas Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd: A Survey of Reviews, by Jordan Bailey
In the final section, Resources, easy-to-follow lists are provided to help guide the reader through important dates and moments in the author’s life. A selection of further reading is then provided. Each essay in Critical Insights: Thomas Hardy includes a list of Works Cited and detailed endnotes. Also included in this volume is a Bibliography, biographies of the Editor and Contributors, and alphabetical Index as well as Chronology of Thomas Hardy’s Life and Works by Thomas Hardy.
The Critical Insights Series distills the best of both classic and current literary criticism of the world’s most studies literature. Edited and written by some of academia’s most distinguished literary scholars, Critical Insights: Thomas Hardy provides authoritative, in-depth scholarship that students and researchers will rely on for years. This volume is destined to become a valuable purchase for all.
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