George Eliot and Hardy

Norman Vance

in The Oxford Handbook of English Literature and Theology

Published in print March 2009 | ISBN: 9780199544486
Published online September 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780191735066 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology

 George Eliot and Hardy

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George Eliot was the first English translator of the iconoclastically post-Christian commentators David Strauss and Ludwig Feuerbach. But as a novelist she continued to explore connections between divinity (or ‘the Unseen’) and human goodness in an informal, residually numinous ‘Religion of Humanity’. Thomas Hardy, much more overtly negative about traditional Christianity in his novels, has been less congenial to theologians, though Pamela Dalziel has recently demonstrated his sustained religious seriousness. For Hardy, as for many others, the First World War made it much harder to defend any kind of optimism about human affairs. For him, as for George Eliot, Christianity might have become metaphysically problematic, but it still provided a language and a reference point for moral and social concern, a way of approaching the pain and the possibility of good in the world.

Keywords: traditional Christianity; Thomas Hardy; George Eliot; Unseen; Religion of Humanity

Article.  8103 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Religious Studies ; Christianity ; Philosophy of Religion

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