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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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Notes 245


Notes Introduction 1 The scene is examined fully below, see pp. 151–4. 2 The Expressive Eye: Fiction and Perception in the Work of Thomas Hardy (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986). 3 Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2001. 4 Part 2, Chapter 6. 5 Translated by Matthew Ward and Richard Howard (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990). 6 This issue is taken up in more detail on pp. 13–61 below. 7 Chapter 9. 8 Chapter 18. 9 One might compare this with the negative definition Hardy gives in ‘A Leader of Fashion’ from Human Shows: Never has she known The way a robin will skip and come, With an eye half bold, half timorsome, To the table’s edge for a breakfast crumb: Nor has she seen A streak of roseate gently drawn Across the east, that means the dawn, When, up and out, she foots it on: Nor has she heard The rustle of the sparrow’s tread To roost in roof-holes near her head When dusk bids her, too, seek her bed: 246 Notes to pages 7–11 Nor has she watched Amid a stormy eve’s turmoil The pipkin slowly come to boil, In readiness for one at toil: Nor has she hearkened Through the long night-time, lone and numb, For sounds of sent-for help to come Ere the swift-sinking life succumb: Nor has she ever Held the loved-lost one on her arm, Attired with care his straightened form, As if he were alive and warm: Yea, never has she Known, seen,...

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