‘The Worthy Encompassed by the Inevitable’: Hardy and a New Perception of Tragedy



Hardy was still smarting from the general execration of Jude the Obscure when he wrote a ‘Postscript’ to his original Preface, for the novel’s 1912 edition. His apologia explained that the marriage theme had ‘seemed a good foundation for the fable of a tragedy’ and that he was ‘not without a hope that certain cathartic, Aristotelian qualities might be found therein’. His gentle boast may be seen not only as a defiance of the reviewers but also as a pleased acceptance of those admirers who were beginning to hail him as a great tragic novelist.


Human Endeavour General Execration Marriage Theme Tragic Hero External Fate 
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  1. Quotations from his poems are taken from The Complete Poems of Thomas Hardy, ed. James Gibson (London: Macmillan, 1976).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    William Van O’Connor, Climates of Tragedy (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1943) p. 3.Google Scholar
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    Murray Krieger argues that in an age which comes after thinkers like Kierkegaard and Nietzsche there is room only for a ‘formless’ tragedy, which can best be accommodated in the novel: The Tragic Vision: Variations on a Theme in Literary Interpretation (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1960).Google Scholar
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© Raymond Chapman 1998

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