“The Essence of Individuality”
Hardy, the Regional Novel and the Romantic LegacyPDF
If there is a literary genre which can stand as a symbol for the Victorian Age, this is the provincial novel. Just when faster means of transport were making it possible to reach even the remotest places in Britain, and the industrial revolution was making of the modern towns the very centre of human life, many novelists established themselves on the literary scene by focusing on peripheral, remote and often backward provincial regions. This seeming paradox is all the more striking if we consider that one of the most outstanding authors of Victorian provincial literature was Thomas Hardy, one who carried this concentration on localities to extremes. Indeed Hardy’s Wessex proves to be made up of microcosms, each asserting its own peculiarities. Yet, at the same time, Hardy also distanced himself from other provincial novelists by overtly claiming that concentrating on Wessex – that tiny corner of England – did not actually involve missing universal truths. The paper investigates into this seeming paradox, focusing on Hardy’s debt to the Romantic legacy of Walter Scott and William Wordsworth on the one hand, and on the parallelism between his method and the method of the rising science of anthropology on the other hand.
Keywords: Thomas Hardy. Regional novel. Romanticism. Walter Scott. William Wordsworth.
Language: enSubmitted: April 9, 2016 Accepted: June 21, 2016 Published: Sept. 30, 2016