Less than Faithfully Presented: Fictions in Modern Commentaries on Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles



Nearly twenty years ago I published a study titled ‘Fictions in the Criticism of Hardy’s Fiction’ in which I detailed how, often by ignoring relevant textual and other evidence, critics transformed what Hardy had written into something more nearly like an independent fiction.1 In the generation since, Hardy’s novels have been dissected by nearly every instrument of analysis known to modern literary study, and, amid much fine and revealing scholarship, a new crop of remarkably independent critical fictions has appeared. Hence, I think it may once again be useful to call attention to some of the more creatively imaginative of them, and to consider what influences on contemporary critical practice brought them about. Given, however, the extraordinary amount of scholarship on Hardy’s novels produced in the last twenty years, I will this time limit my illustrations to those drawn from writings on Tess of the d’Urbervilles published or reprinted between 1980 and 1995.


Modern Commentary Generous Imaginativeness Recent Commentator Passive Victim Sexual Ideology 
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© Robert C. Schweik 1998

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