The Expression of Things by John Hughes

The Expression of Things: Themes in Thomas Hardy’s Fiction and Poetry by John Hughes
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Overview: John Hughes explores Thomas Hardy’s claim that his art sought to ‘intensify the expression of things’ through three main sections: music, the body, and voice. These themes offer intersecting and mutually informing discussions of the central drama of inexpression and expressivity in Hardy’s work as it affects the various persona of the text, including the reader. Throughout, the book draws on themes in the work of Gilles Deleuze and Stanley Cavell to reveal how Hardy’s fiction and poetry express and represent the affective and physical conditions of mind, and their conflicts with social fictions of identity. The first section on music examines how Hardy’s writing stages musical experience as an expression of human desire and individuality at odds with the constraints of rationality, Victorian fiction form, and social convention. Extensive readings are linked to the larger contextual and theoretical issues in order to show how music as a theme and motif highlights the kinds of creativity and ethical cruxes that characterize Hardy’s work. The second section on ’embodiment and sensation’ shows how close attention to Hardy’s writing on the topics of facial and bodily expression (and affectivity) reveal much about the sources of his inspiration, and its philosophical conditions and implications. The third section on ‘voice’ employs a close metrical reading of an important Hardy poem within its larger biographical and inter-textual contexts. These readings demonstrate how fundamental were Hardy’s innovations in meter to the power and originality of his work, and to its expressive treatment of his abiding preoccupations with love, grief, childhood, and the loss of faith
Genre: Non-Fiction > Educational > Literary Theory

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