Hardy’s Humour

  • Bryn Caless
Part of the Macmillan Literary Annuals book series (MLA)


Humour is elusive of definition: few will agree on what is amusing or comic, and even fewer will agree on why it is. Humour is a subjective thing, requiring some emotional response from those who experience or regard it. At the same time as calling forth our happiest feelings, it suggests a threat to those feelings. The general inadequacy of literary criticism to come to terms with humour in any work of the imagination, let alone Hardy’s, is perhaps a demonstration of the unease, even the threat, which such humour poses.


Steam Mane Lost Verse Folk 


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  1. 1.
    Mark Storey, Poetry and Humour from Cowper to Clough (London: Macmillan, 1979) p. 3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    The Complete Works of William Hazlitt, ed. P. P. Howe (London: Dent, 1930) IV, p. 5.Google Scholar
  3. 6.
    R. C. Carpenter’s ‘How to read “A Few Crusted Characters”’, in Critical Approaches to the Fiction of Thomas Hardy, ed. Dale Kramer (London: Macmillan, 1979), offers a stout defence of these stories.Google Scholar
  4. Kristin Brady describes the collection as one in which ‘ostensibly farcical situations’ are turned into ‘Tragedies of Circumstance’ (The Short Stories of Thomas Hardy [London: Macmillan, 1982] pp. 152, 98).Google Scholar
  5. 9.
    The story was written, according to Hardy, ‘about 1888–1890’ but remained unpublished until 1929, when Florence Hardy arranged its appearance in a Philadelphia journal. It is included in Old Mrs Chundle and Other Stories, ed. F. B. Pinion (London: Macmillan, 1977). Pinion suggests that Hardy did not publish the story because he was reluctant to be accused of irreverent intentions.Google Scholar

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© Norman Page 1985

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  • Bryn Caless

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