Chapter

Introduction: Mortal Self, Infinite Longings

Sara Crangle

in Prosaic Desires

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print July 2010 | ISBN: 9780748640850
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748651955 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/edinburgh/9780748640850.003.0001
Introduction: Mortal Self, Infinite Longings

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This introductory chapter discusses the most popular desires of Victorian fiction, which are love and social mobility, first studying Thomas Hardy's The Hand of Ethelberta and The Well-Beloved. It determines that Hardy's protagonists are not satiated by ambition or sexual love, and that the self is torn apart due to an obsessive focus on a single desire. From here, the discussion moves on to examine the rethinking of desire and Emmanuel Levinas's work, explaining how Hardy's writing presents a good representation of the modernist desire-driven shift in focus from self to other. It also considers the relationship between everyday longing, the self and contemporary life.

Keywords: desire; Victorian fiction; Thomas Hardy; Emmanuel Levinas; desire-driven shift; self; everyday longing; contemporary life

Chapter.  12131 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)

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