Chapter

Hardy's <i>Woodlanders</i> and the Darwinian Grotesque

George Levine

in Darwin the Writer

Published in print May 2011 | ISBN: 9780199608430
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731709 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199608430.003.0006
Hardy's Woodlanders and the Darwinian Grotesque

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This chapter shifts focus from Darwin directly to his literary influence, and concludes the book's discussion of the way the form and language of Darwin's writing helped shape cultural consciousness. It offers a reading of Thomas Hardy's novel, The Woodlanders, in the light Darwin's theory and writing, and suggests that generic boundaries are temporary and Hardy's novel plays wildly with generic variations, producing surprises and contrasting effects, and, despite some of Hardy's usual tragic tendencies, a largely comic vision. The book dramatizes the way the force that leads to life is indifferent to moral conventions. Darwin's presence can be felt in each aspect of the novel, but most particularly in its very mixed and entangled form.

Keywords: tragedy; realism; comedy; consciousness; morality; convention; parody; pastoral

Chapter.  8735 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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