Thomas Hardy and Victorian Communication: Letters, Telegrams and Postal Systems

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There is a thoughtful reading of "An August Midnight" and a consideration of sound and voice in the always intriguing "Winter in Durnover Field. Jacqueline Dillion's Thomas Hardy: Folklore and Resistance London: Palgrave Macmillan, is a fascinating and authoritative investigation into Hardy's imaginative use of the power of folk practices.

Although its interest in the poetry is also fleeting, it does include a reading of "The Bride-Night Fire" that suggests the community of the poem is duty bound to observe the custom of the skimmington, a custom that appears to have a dual nature "as a force to socially extinguish, and as a kind of ritual that 'cleanses' or purifies the village" p. In reference to the renaming of the poem from "Fire at Tranter Sweatley's," Dillion suggests, "Hardy's revised added emphasis on 'Fire' in the title further suggests this relationship between fire and the skimmington ride's role in purifying the community and purging it and the shamed parties of guilt" p.

The study later considers the May Day associations included in this poem and "One We Knew" and makes some thoughtful suggestions concerning effigy burning and the stylistic influence of mummers in The Dynasts.

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In this exhaustively researched and original work, the poetry is mostly confined to one chapter, "Epistolary Ghosts: Letters in Hardy's Poems and Short Stories," in which Koehler, drawing on Kafka, argues that the letter is "an instrument of alienation rather than connection" p. The ghosts of the chapter's title are epistolary versions of the writer and reader, assuming "virtual presences with lives and wills of their own" p. The letter serves as a device that allows Hardy to explore the impossibility of communication, as shown in examples including "Thoughts of Phena," "The Sun on the Letter," "Read by Moonlight," and "The Torn Letter.

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Karin Koehler. Physical description xiv, p. Online Available online. Full view.


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Thomas Hardy and Victorian Communication : Letters, Telegrams and Postal Systems

Find it at other libraries via WorldCat Limited preview. Hillel Matthew , Bibliography Includes bibliographical references p. Summary H. Daleski re-examines Thomas Hardy's novels, emphasizing the love triangles that populate his work. He also rebuts contemporary feminist criticism of Hardy by showing that Hardy actually was sympathetic to his female characters.