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Thomas Hardy Writing Dress


Simon Gatrell

This new study provides fresh readings of Thomas Hardy’s work and illuminates the social and cultural history of dress in the nineteenth century. The book argues that Hardy had a more detailed and acute understanding of the importance of dress in forming and regulating personal identity and social relations than any other writer of his time. Structured thematically, it takes into account both nineteenth-century and modern theoretical approaches to the significance of what we wear.
The author gives an extended analysis of individual works by Hardy, showing, for example, that A Pair of Blue Eyes is central to the study of the function of clothing in the expression and perception of sexuality. The Hand of Ethelberta, The Mayor of Casterbridge, Tess of the d’Urbervilles and The Woodlanders are examined in order to show the extent to which dress obscures or reveals the nature of the self. Hardy’s other novels, as well as the short stories and poems, are used to confirm the centrality of dress and clothing in Hardy’s work. The book also raises issues such as the gendering of dress, cross-dressing, work clothes and working with clothes, dress and the environment, the symbolism of colour in clothes, and the dress conventions relating to death.


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List of Plates xiii


Plates Plate 1 ‘I can’t get out of this dreadful tree!’ from ‘The Romantic Adventures of a Milkmaid’, Graphic, Summer Number ( June 1883) p. 22 (detail). 24 Plate 2 ‘Her head fell back upon Bob’s shoulder’ from The Trumpet-Major, Good Words (May 1880) p. 332. 182 Plate 3 ‘But, my dear lady, you promised’ from A Laodicean, Harper’s New Monthly Magazine 62 ( January 1881) p. 295 (detail). 184 Plate 4 ‘Fine old screen, sir!’ from A Laodicean, Harper’s New Monthly Magazine 62 (February 1881) p. 464(detail). 186 Plate 5 ‘Somerset closed the hand which was hanging by his side’ from A Laodicean, Harper’s New Monthly Magazine 62 (April 1881) p. 777 (detail). 187 Plate 6 ‘Is the resemblance strong?’ from A Laodicean, Harper’s New Monthly Magazine 63 ( June 1880) p. 138. 189 Plate 7 ‘Somerset now made them known to one another’ from A Laodicean, Harper’s New Monthly Magazine 64 ( January 1882) p. 298 (detail). 190 Plate 8 ‘There stood her mother amid the group of children, hanging over the washing-tub’ from Tess of the d’Urbervilles, Graphic, 44 (4 July 1891), pp. 12–13 (detail). 193 Plate 9 ‘On going up to the fire to throw a pitch of dead weeds upon it, she found that he did the same on the other side. The fire f lared up, and she beheld the face of D’Urberville …’ from Tess of the d’Urbervilles, Graphic, 44 (5 December 1891) pp. 670–1 (detail). 195 Plate 10 ‘On the...

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