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ERIC Number: ED352658
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1992-Mar
Pages: 17
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: N/A
ISSN: N/A
Critical Reception of Thomas Hardy's Short Stories: Finding "The Key to the Art."
Heber, Janice Stewart
Thomas Hardy has received great acclaim as a poet and novelist, but his short stories have remained largely ignored with regard to the usual short story "canon." Early reviews of Hardy's stories were mixed, but after his death the tide of critical opinion tended to turn against Hardy's stories. A significant historical factor was the prevalence of censorship by editors during the Victorian period, since Hardy focused on telling life stories "honestly." Hardy was forced by editors to alter his writing to conform to social standards of morality. Clearly, the effects of these circumstances are part of the history of these stories, thus affecting a full appreciation of them. Consideration of the reception history also sheds light on Hardy's innovative techniques, including his use of black comedy or the absurd. Critical opinion has also been affected by Hardy's theory of the storyteller's art, including his fascination with the "exceptional" or the bizarre. Hardy's explorations of the supernatural is an aspect of his stories that is most misunderstood by today's critics, who admire Modernist story tellers like Chekhov, Joyce and Hemingway. Today, with the advent of cultural criticism and the interest in folk materials, Hardy's stories may take on new resonance and generate growing interest among critics. Further re-evaluation of Hardy's stories by Hardy scholars is certainly called for in such a climate, perhaps even reinstating him as a master of the short story form. (Seventeen references are attached.) (HB)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A