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Hardy, Conrad and the Senses$
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Hugh Epstein

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781474449861

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474449861.001.0001

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Minding the Senses

Minding the Senses

Jude the Obscure and Under Western Eyes

(p.243) Chapter Six Minding the Senses
Hardy, Conrad and the Senses

Hugh Epstein

Edinburgh University Press

This final chapter discusses why reading Jude the Obscure and Under Western Eyes is a different experience from that provided by the earlier novels, but why they are essential novels with which to conclude a study of the senses. In Jude the focus changes from sensory to mental experience: in scenes of ‘mutual distress’, Jude’s and Sue’s idealising tragically loses or denies the moments in which the senses and the mind might be reunited. Razumov is depicted as an even lonelier figure as he seeks to exert mental control over his senses, which are driven to re-enact scenes of a hallucinatory intensity. Whilst, in the changed epistemology of these novels, the protagonists’ minds are seen to be inhabited by words and the careful watching of them, in both novels it is bodily gesture that is finally required to declare the truth. In the short Postscript which follows, the fundamental empiricist affinity between Hardy and Conrad is re-affirmed, and their distinctiveness from other realist novelists is re-visited in terms of the scale of their vision and the centrality of the word ‘existence’ in their lexicon.

Keywords:   Mental awareness, Ideal, Distress, Mind, Loneliness, Words, Scale, Empiricist, Existence

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