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ELT 43 : 2 2000 Hardy's Concepts of Time Ellen Anne Lanzano. Hardy: The Temporal Poetics. Studies in NineteenthCentury British Literature, Vol. 10. New York: Peter Lang, 1999. 157 pp. $43.95 THIS BOOK is published in the Peter Lang series Studies in Nineteenth-Century British Literature, the intent of which is to place the literature of the century in its cultural context. The obvious assumption is that literature is a product of its age and should be studied in relation to the historical events and ideas that influenced its creation. Ellen Anne Lanzano's Hardy: The Temporal Poetics fails to conform to the scope of the series by selecting an author whose poetry extends beyond the death of Victoria (the terminal date of the series), but this nonconformity is of course conformity with the dates of ELT. Otherwise, the book does fulfill the design of the series by explaining how Hardy shared with his contemporaries various concepts of time and how these concepts appear in his poetry. The word "poetics" in the title may perhaps mislead the reader to expect a discussion of how these concepts influenced Hardy's theory and practice of poetry. Although one chapter does examine how they influenced Hardy's view of himself as a poet, the better part of the book deals with time as subject and theme of the poems. Time is an indisputably important subject in both nineteenthcentury culture and Hardy's poetry. The century was a great age for history , both human and natural. People looked backward as never before. And, Janus-like, they looked forward as never before, embracing progress no less than historicism. They reconciled these opposing tendencies in their belief that the past explained and defined the present while also indicating the direction of the future. Another popular notion was that in order to progress one must first go back, a notion usually expressed by saying that in order to leap forward over an obstacle one must first back up to get a running start. Proponents of Gothic Revival architecture used this argument to explain that their return to the principles of medieval building was the way to hurtle the impasse of an exhausted neoclassicism and to develop a new style of architecture. Similarly and simultaneously Pre-Raphaelite painters adopted principles and techniques before the time of Raphael to move their art forward past the rigid and stultifying conventions of academic painting. Ellen Anne Lanzano shows that both of these ways of reconciling past, present, and future appear in Hardy's poetry, but in relating them to the intellectual milieu she makes her connections with historians, sci222 BOOK REVIEWS entists, and philosophers, such people as Comte, Darwin, Spencer, Fichte, Schopenhauer, Einstein, and Spengler. Although these sources for the ideas Hardy incorporated in his poetry are perfectly acceptable, even essential, additional comparisons to the Gothic Revivalists or PreRaphaelites , for instance, would help the reader better understand the cultural context of the ideas and provide as well artistic examples akin to Hardy's poetry, that is, examples of how others expressed in stone and paint what Hardy did in words. On the other hand, she does make helpful comparisons to examples in Hardy's novels. In discussing Hardy's poetry Lanzano focuses steadily on the concept of time and moves from poem to poem extracting from each what it has to say on the subject. Consequently, she deals with parts of poems and makes no attempt to explicate the whole. Because of this method there is no index of poems cited, nor any need for one. In organizing the book and the poems discussed, the author chooses a thematic rather than chronological approach. She explains that the chronological approach is illsuited to the subject because Hardy's ideas about time did not evolve in a logical pattern but instead were present from the beginning to the end of his career, often contending and conflicting with one another. The principal tension between these ideas relates to the nineteenthcentury conflict between reason and imagination, fact and fancy, science and faith. Along with so many others of his generation, Hardy was caught up in this struggle, and readers will immediately think of such...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 222-224
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Will Be Archived 2021
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