Jude is rooted in the central sociological typology of Hardy’s Wessex fiction. It is a vision of the chaotic absurdity of human life outside the shaping matrices of history and culture and thus a powerful vindication of the norms embodied in his comprehensive fictional metaphor ‘Wessex’. The many departures that this novel makes from ‘Wessex’ are made obliquely to recall and continually exploit that magic metaphor as a central criterion of quality. That is why I consider Jude a logical completion of Hardy’s sociological fiction. It is obviously a novel embodying very different social structures from those of the earlier novels, but this in itself is no proof that the novelist welcomes the change or is even reconciled to it. On the contrary, it seems to me that Jude is an expression of Hardy’s dismay and bewilderment at the final disruption of the rural community. It is an exploration of the chaos that follows from excessive individualism and rationality. It is indeed the story of a difficult and tragic journey beyond culture, but the narrative point of view still evokes a moral sensibility continuous with the past.
KeywordsSociological Imagination Fictional World Asexual State Cultural Imagination Dual Perspective
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