‘Twice-over Cannot Be’: the Futility of Restoration in The Mayor of Casterbridge, Tess of the d’Urbervilles and Jude the Obscure

  • Peter J. Casagrande


In turning now from Hardy’s novels of return to his novels of restoration, two things may be reiterated. First, Hardy’s view that return, in all its social and psychological aspects, is devilishly difficult is preserved and transformed in the analogous view that restoration, the reinstatement of a thing to its primal state, is wholly futile. Attempting to go home again was for Hardy as hopeless an undertaking as trying to bring a thing back to its original condition. Second, Hardy’s way of depicting the drama of restoration in novels between 1871 and 1895 repeats his way of depicting the drama of return in novels between 1872 and 1897. In both cycles he moved from romantic comedy, through tragedy or near-tragedy, to tragic realism. His progress from Desperate Remedies, A Pair of Blue Eyes, Far from the Madding Crowd and The Trumpet-Major through A Laodicean and Two on a Tower to The Mayor, Tess and Jude retraces his progress through Under the Greenwood Tree, The Return of the Native, The Woodlanders and The Well-Beloved. This second fact especially should suggest the incautiousness of describing Hardy as an artist who persistently failed ‘to learn from his own past experiences’.1 In some ways it would seem that he did little else.


Human Association Human Means Violent Temper Sexual Instinct Father Time 
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© Peter J. Casagrande 1982

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  • Peter J. Casagrande

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