Thomas Hardy's The Mayor of Casterbridge

Thomas Hardy's The Mayor of Casterbridge

Thomas Hardy's The Mayor of Casterbridge

Thomas Hardy's The Mayor of Casterbridge

Synopsis

A collection of six critical essays on the Hardy novel, arranged in chronological order of their original publication.

Excerpt

For Arthur Schopenhauer, the Will to Live was the true thing-in-itself, not an interpretation but a rapacious, active, universal, and ultimately indifferent drive or desire. Schopenhauer’s great work, The World as Will and Representation, had the same relation to and influence upon many of the principal nineteenth- and early twentieth-century novelists that Freud’s writings have in regard to many of this century’s later, crucial masters of prose fiction. Zola, Maupassant, Turgenev, and Tolstoy join Thomas Hardy as Schopenhauer’s nineteenth-century heirs, in a tradition that goes on through Proust, Conrad, and Thomas Mann to culminate in aspects of Borges and of Beckett, the most eminent living writer of narrative. Since Schopenhauer (despite Freud’s denials) was one of Freud’s prime precursors, one could argue that aspects of Freud’s influence upon writers simply carry on from Schopenhauer’s previous effect. Manifestly, the relation of Schopenhauer to Hardy is different in both kind and degree from the larger sense in which Schopenhauer was Freud’s forerunner or Wittgenstein’s. A poetnovelist like Hardy turns to a rhetorical speculator like Schopenhauer only because he finds something in his own temperament and sensibility confirmed and strengthened, and not at all as Lucretius turned to Epicurus, or as Whitman was inspired by Emerson.

The true precursor for Hardy was Shelley, whose visionary skepticism permeates the novels as well as the poems and The Dynasts. There is some technical debt to George Eliot in the early novels, but Hardy in his depths was little more moved by her than by Wilkie Collins, from whom he also learned elements of craft. Shelley’s tragic sense of eros is pervasive throughout Hardy, and ultimately determines Hardy’s understanding of his strongest heroines: Bathsheba Everdene, Eustacia Vye, Marty South, Tess Durbeyfield, Sue Bridehead. Between desire and . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.