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.
KeywordsSteam Mane Lost Verse Folk
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- 2.The Complete Works of William Hazlitt, ed. P. P. Howe (London: Dent, 1930) IV, p. 5.Google Scholar
- 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
- 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
- 9.The story was written, according to Hardy, ‘about 1888–1890’ but remained unpublished until 1929, when Florence Hardy arranged its appearance in a Philadelphia journal.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