Each one of the major novels of Thomas Hardy, as we have seen, embodies and enacts the age-old forms of rural culture. Each is a novel return to the rural community in its more characteristic and recessive aspects. In content as well as form Hardy’s fiction proclaims a rural sensibility. One of Hardy’s major achievements as a novelist is his refusal to accept the antinomy between reality and dream which accounts for the exclusion, in rationalist theories of history and culture, of the metaphors through which we make sense of life. His novels bring the real and the imaginal into an effective relationship claiming them both as indistinguishable aspects of one whole of experience. In folklore and myths and legends, which are the lungs of rural culture, Hardy found a ready sanction for his ‘partly real, partly dream’ fictions of reality. Hardy is not a historian of the local and the ephemeral, but an explorer of the governing metaphors of rural life. He called himself ‘a parish historian’, but his parish was a paradigm of community before he had done with it even though it was a place on the map of England to begin with.
KeywordsRural Community Parish Historian Sociological Imagination Rural Society Village Life
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- 2.Robert A. Nisbet, The Sociological Tradition (London: Heinemann, 1973), p. 74.Google Scholar