This chapter is divided into three sections which, in turn, initiate the rationale for reading Hardy’s and Conrad’s impressionistic writing together in the light of Victorian physical science; review the biographical and literary connections between the writers such as they were, and the contemporary critical reception which linked them; and give a brief overview of previous critical work that has associated the two writers. Finally, the Introduction proposes ‘scenic realism’, a literary correlate of field theory, as the mode in which both authors work. A distinctive place in late-Victorian fiction is argued for over against the ‘transitional’ status they are often accorded, and the broad division of the book into visual and auditory fields, as the senses most attended to, is explained.
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