This book addresses the questions 'What did Thomas Hardy think about history and how did this enter into his writings?' Scholars have sought answers in 'revolutionary', 'gender', 'postcolonial' and 'millennial' criticism, but these are found to be unsatisfactory. Fred Reid is a historian who seeks answers by setting Hardy more fully in the discourses of philosophical history and the domestic and international affairs of Britain. He shows how Hardy worked out, from the late 1850s, his own 'meliorist' philosophy of history and how it is inscribed in his fiction. Rooted in the idea of cyclical history as propounded by the Liberal Anglican historians, it was adapted after his loss of faith through reading the works of Auguste Comte, George Drysdale and John Stuart Mill and used to defend the right of individuals to break with the Victorian sexual code and make their own 'experiments in living'.
Fred Reid is Emeritus Reader in History at Warwick University, UK. His publications include James Keir Hardie: the Making of a Socialist and In Search of Willie Patterson: a Scottish Soldier in the Age of Imperialism. He has written on the rights of visually impaired people in European labour markets.
CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION: APPROACHES TO HARDY AND HISTORY.- CHAPTER 2 The Liberal Anglican idea of history.- CHAPTER 3 Horace Moule and 'the evils of our era'.- CHAPTER 4 Walter Bagehot and the writing of history.- CHAPTER 5 Essays and Reviews: Frederick Temple and Baden Powell.- CHAPTER 6 Auguste Comte.- CHAPTER 7 George Drysdale and the Radical Hardy.- CHAPTER 8 John Stuart Mill.- CHAPTER 9 The Poor Man and the Lady.- CHAPTER 10 Desperate Remedies and Under the Greenwood Tree.- CHAPTER 11 The Franco-Prussian War.- CHAPTER 12 Satire and Romance: A Pair of Blue Eyes.- CHAPTER 13 'Lead kindly light': Satire and History in Far from the Madding Crowd
.- CHAPTER 14 Hardy and Patriotism.- CHAPTER 15 Crisis of Civilisation.- CHAPTER 16 Meliorism in The Mayor of Casterbridge and The Woodlanders.- CHAPTER 17 Stopping Wedding Guests.- CHAPTER 18 LAST WORD.- FURTHER READING.