Thomas Hardy: Folklore and Resistance

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Springer, Sep 23, 2016 - Literary Criticism - 206 pages
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This book reassesses Hardy’s fiction in the light of his prolonged engagement with the folklore and traditions of rural England. Drawing on wide research, it demonstrates the pivotal role played in the novels by such customs and beliefs as ‘overlooking’, hag-riding, skimmington-riding, sympathetic magic, mumming, bonfire nights, May Day celebrations, Midsummer divination, and the ‘Portland Custom’. This study shows how such traditions were lived out in practice in village life, and how they were represented in written texts – in literature, newspapers, county histories, folklore books, the work of the Folklore Society, archival documents, and letters. It explores tensions between Hardy’s repeated insistence on the authenticity of his accounts and his engagement with contemporary anthropologists and folklorists, and reveals how his efforts to resist their ‘excellently neat’ categories of culture open up wider questions about the nature of belief, progress, and social change.
 

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Contents

Introduction
1
Belief Overlooking Sympathetic Magic HagRiding and Souths Tree
34
Acts of Disapproval Skimmington Riding
71
Acts of Approval The Portland Custom
93
Winter Customs Bonfire Night and Mumming
119
Summer Customs May Day and Midsummer Divination
143
Conclusion
172
Appendix
178
Bibliography
187
Index
200
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About the author (2016)

Jacqueline Dillion is Visiting Assistant Professor of English at Pepperdine University, USA. She holds a PhD in English from the University of St Andrews. She has previously served as director of Harding University's London and Paris study abroad programs, where she also taught courses in British literature. While carrying out her doctoral research, she was invited to become the first Scholar in Residence at Max Gate, Thomas Hardy's house in Dorset. She has also lectured widely around the world, and has been featured several times on BBC television and radio and on ITV.  

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