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Thomas Hardy's Shorter FictionA Critical Study$
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Sophie Gilmartin and Rod Mengham

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780748632657

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748632657.001.0001

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Wessex Tales

Wessex Tales

(p.1) Chapter 1 Wessex Tales
Thomas Hardy's Shorter Fiction

Sophie Gilmartin

Rod Mengham

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter examines the stories in Thomas Hardy's Wessex Tales. It notes that most of the stories are set at least thirty-five years before their telling in the volume, and that ‘Wessex’ is described as an environment where uncluttered spaces provided freedom of movement. The chapter first discusses Hardy's verbal descriptions, which were influenced by his experiences with viewing the landscape through big brass telescopes. It reveals that Hardy's experience at Rushy-Pond – along with his telescope – was part of his inspiration for his stories in Wessex Tales. The chapter then shows how the telescope serves to figuratively and practically emphasise Hardy's focus on his object, which leaves everything else temporarily invisible. The rest of the chapter examines certain aspects of the stories in Wessex Tales, including the importance of the human figure, the role of the executioner, the allusions to galvanism and photography, and rivalry between women.

Keywords:   Thomas Hardy, Wessex Tales, freedom of movement, verbal descriptions, telescopes, Rushy-Pond, human figure, executioner, rivalry between women, allusions

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