Thomas Hardy and the Survivals of Time

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A systematic exploration of Thomas Hardy's imaginative assimilation of particular Victorian sciences, this study draws on and swells the widening current of scholarly attention now being paid to the cultural meanings compacted and released by the nascent 'sciences of man' in the nineteenth century. Andrew Radford here situates Hardy's fiction and poetry in a context of the new sciences of humankind that evolved during the Victorian age to accommodate an immense range of literal and figurative 'excavations' then taking place. Combining literary close readings with broad historical analyses, he explores Hardy's artistic response to geological, archaeological and anthropological findings. In particular, he analyzes Hardy's lifelong fascination with the doctrine of 'survivals,' a term coined by E.B. Tylor in Primitive Culture (1871) to denote customs, beliefs and practices persisting in isolation from their original cultural context. Radford reveals how Hardy's subtle reworking of Tylor's doctrine offers a valuable insight into the inter-penetration of science and literature during this period. An important aspect of Radford's research focuses on lesser known periodical literature that grew out of a British amateur antiquarian tradition of the nineteenth century. His readings of Hardy's literary notebooks disclose the degree to which Hardy's own considerable scientific knowledge was shaped by the middlebrow periodical press. Thus Thomas Hardy and the Survivals of Time raises questions not only about the reception of scientific ideas but also the creation of nonspecialist forms of scientific discourse. This book represents a genuinely new perspective for Hardy studies.