The Social Critic

  • C. H. Salter


Most criticism of Hardy is philosophical or artistic: On his “philosophy” (Braybrooke), “psychology” (Thurley), “pessimism” (Barzin), “art and thought” (Webster, Pinion), “background” (Rutland), “vision of man” (Southerington), and “universe” (Brennecke); on the influences of Schopenhauer (Garwood), Comte (Hyman), Darwin (Peckham, Stevenson), Arnold (de Laura) and Mill (Hyde); on his “art” (Lionel Johnson), “technique” (Beach), “poetic structure” (Brooks), the “form” or “forms” of the novels (Gregor, Kramer), his “aesthetic” (Zabel), and, on particular novels, the “style” of The Mayor (Heilman), the “language”, “ colour and movement” in Tess (Lodge, Tanner), symbolism in Jude (Holland). Or criticism is biographical (Evelyn Hardy, Blunden, Gittings). In some of these, and in other works (Grimsditch, Firor, Cecil) there is social reference but mainly to help the modern urban reader understand the rural subject-matter: “In clay-built cramped cottages men struggled year after year against wind and weather to support a wife and family on 7s. a week.”1 Some have explicitly denied that Hardy felt much concern about the “social condition” of the peasant, or was a “social reformer”.2


Social Mobility Social Critic Royal Commission Social Reference Market Town 
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© C. H. Salter 1981

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  • C. H. Salter

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