Analyzing The Works Of Thomas Hardy

1012 words - 4 pages

Snell (1998) says that the term 'regional novel' refers to "fiction that is set in a recognizable region, and which describes features distinguishing the life, social relations, customs, languages, dialect, or other aspects of the culture of that area and its people. Fiction with a strong sense of local geography, topography or landscape is also covered by this definition" (1998:1). Novels belonging to such a genre, Duncan (2002) claims, are thus distinctive and familiar. distinctive in the sense that each is differentiated from the metropolis or from other regions within the nation, and familiar in the sense that they all have one thing in common 'the imagined community' of Anderson (Anderson, 1991).
Duncan (2002) maintains that provincial or regional fiction was established and flourished in the nineteenth century. He argues that the eighteenth century witnessed some attempts at the regional novel, notably Smollett's (1818) The Expedition of Humphrey Clinker written in 1771; however, the real introduction to the regional novel was Maria Edgeworth's Castle Rackrent in 1800. Afterwards, regional fiction was developed by Scott, Galt, and their Irish and Scottish contemporaries. This view is supported by Bellamy’s (1998) argument “the origins of the regional novel have conventionally been traced back to Maria Edgeworth and Walter Scott” (1998: 54). The novels about Ireland or Scotland, Duncan (2002) suggests, made English writers think about the varieties of community within England and in the Victorian period, after which we see the appearance of English regional novel. He points out that industrialization and modernization processes led to the disappearance of many rural and pastoral values; the simple pastoral life was replaced by the sophisticated processes of industrialization. Therefore, Victorian novelists found the province or region an authentic site or source of national identity and the regional novel was developed as a distinguished form of the novel.
Many critics consider Hardy as the greatest novelist in the form of regional fiction and think that the best example of regional fiction is Hardy's Wessex novels (Duncan, 2002; Bellamy, 1998; Keith, 1979; Miller, 1970). Miller (1970) even insists that "Hardy is always a local writer"(1970: 53) and Bellamy (1998) stresses that the regional novel was developed in an unprecedented way by Hardy. Duncan (2002) claims “Hardy develops the historical formula of romantic regionalism - in order to move his narratives through and outside history, not back into the timeless enclosure of pastoral, but radically outside, to the windswept mise-en-scene of tragedy” (2002: 332). He implies that Hardy had his own stamp on regional fiction making it different from the previous works of Scott and Galt. Duncan (2002) lists Under the Greenwood Tree (first published in 1872), Far From the Madding Crowd (first published in 1874), The Mayor of Casterbridge (first published in 1886) Tess of the D'Urbervilles...

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