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Rural Modernity in BritainA Critical Intervention$
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Kristin Bluemel and Michael McCluskey

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781474420952

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2021

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474420952.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 03 July 2022

Ringing the Changes: Thomas Hardy’s Communication Networks

Ringing the Changes: Thomas Hardy’s Communication Networks

(p.19) Chapter 1 Ringing the Changes: Thomas Hardy’s Communication Networks
Rural Modernity in Britain

Edward Allen

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter puts an end to a characteristic strain of critical grief bemoaning the dissolution of idyllic country habits including, in particular, the pealing of soundscapes past. Thomas Hardy understood that Britain was by no means a closed or stable acoustic haven, and that its structures of communication – from bell ringing to electric telegraphy – were always already susceptible to rival systems of affect and pleasure. Beginning with a short introduction to Hardy’s early experiments in transmission – in Desperate Remedies (1871) – Edward Allen elucidates the texture of that early novel before moving through the ‘soundways’ of his verse and late fiction. Arguing that Hardy’s ‘rural erotics’ kindled a new desire for urban-pastoral connection in the early decades of the twentieth century, the chapter ends with the first sustained inquiry into Hardy’s radio habit in the 1920s, interpreting this sign of a countrified personality gone live as a template for rural modernity.

Keywords:   Soundscapes, Thomas Hardy, Rural novel, Bell ringing, Electric telegraphy, Radio, Interwar communication, Networks

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