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Representations of Culture

Thomas Hardy’s Wessex and Victorian Anthropology

Michael A. Zeitler

Representations of Culture places Thomas Hardy’s Wessex – his fictional representation of rural England – within the framework of anthropology, an emergent discipline at the time. Informed by both intellectual biography and close textual readings, this book argues that Hardy’s lifelong interests in folklore, customs, local history, myth, archaeology, and communal narrative history represent the most «modern» (rather than simply traditional) aspect of his thinking – the ways in which anthropological viewpoints associated with Tylor, Lang, and Frazer shaped his understanding and representation of Wessex.