The Spider’s Web: Metaphysics into Music Drama

  • Mark Asquith


A good novel, argues Hardy in ‘A Profitable Reading of Fiction’ (1888), must be ‘well and artistically constructed’ with a ‘beauty of shape’ which gives the reader a pleasure similar to that gained from the pictorial or plastic arts.1 In The Life Hardy airs his more immediate fears concerning the modern novel, that it is ‘gradually losing artistic form, with a beginning, middle, and end, and becoming a spasmodic inventory of items, which has nothing to do with art’.2 In ‘The Science of Fiction’ (1891) he makes clear those he feels are responsible for this decline: the ‘social realists’. Their search for emotional realism in the accretion of infinitesimal detail has, he argues, missed the point of the art, which relies on the captured essence of isolated moments crafted into a satisfying whole.3 ‘Good form’ is central to artistic success, and in ‘A Profitable Reading of Fiction’ he quotes J. A. Symonds to indicate those forms that fulfil this criteria: ‘good fiction may be defined here as that kind of imaginative writing which lies nearest to the epic, dramatic, or narrative masterpieces of the past’.4 Thus, in common with a number of contemporary Hellenes, Hardy is to be found rejecting Romantic introspection as a means of exploring the mid-century religious, moral and social malaise, in favour of the detachment offered by structured Greek forms. As Arnold observes, ‘the literature of ancient Greece is, even for modern times, a mighty agent of intellectual deliverance’.5


Wide Process Natural Sound Music Drama Greek Tragedy Universal Process 
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© Mark Asquith 2005

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  • Mark Asquith

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