Thomas Hardy and Censorship of His Works

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Thomas Hardy and Censorship of His Works During the Victorian Era, writing served as an outlet to influence a changing society. Because the family and domestic life were integral parts of that society, much time was spent at home reading. These Victorian readers had been strongly affected by the political, economic, social, and religious changes that had been taking place. They rebelled against the growth that was taking place, blaming their problems on religious doubt, Darwin and the rise of science, class conflict, poverty, and industrialization. In addition, Victorian Puritanism spoke out against sex, the emancipation of women, and strong individualism in women, believing that they would lead to the end of strong moral standards in the family and in society as a whole. As a result of all of these controversies, people developed a tremendous fear of change and criticized any idea or work that threatened their sense of stability (Chapman 35-50.). Thomas Hardy and other creative artists of his time thus faced a highly critical audience and often were forced to censor some of their more liberal ideas. Thomas Hardy as a writer had been greatly influenced in his youth by some of the more liberal thinkers of the time such as John Stuart Mill and Darwin. He even claimed at one time that he believed he was one of the first to read On the Origin of Species. In his novels, Hardy incorporated many of these themes in order to portray a real world. Darwin's challenge led Hardy to lose faith in Christianity, and this lack of faith gives his novels their tragic, bleak element. However, because novels in the nineteenth century were serially published in installments in magazines, Hardy, particularly at the end of his career, found it d... ... middle of paper ..., received negative reviews. He even wrote an added preface to the novel in July of 1892 (when the first one-volume edition was published) in order to comment on the critical reception of the work. After encountering similar difficulties with the publication of Jude the Obscure and after working with four different publishers over a ten-year period, Hardy ceased writing novels and focused his efforts on writing poetry where he could more fully express his ideas without restrictions. Bibliography and Works Cited Chapman, Raymond. The Victorian Debate: English Literature and Society, 1832-1901. New York: Basic Books, Inc., Publishers, 1968. Millgate, Michael. Thomas Hardy: A Biography. New York: Random House, 1982. Orel, Harold, ed. Thomas Hardy's Personal Writings: Prefaces, Literary Opinions, Reminiscences. Kansas: University of Kansas Press, 1966.

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