Robert Schweik, Ph.D


Vice President: The Thomas Hardy Association
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Vice President: The Thomas Hardy Society

Robert Schweik was TTHA Director of:

TTHA's Information About Hardy on WWW

TTHA's CHECKLIST on Members' Research Resources page

TTHA's Book Reviews Page on Members' Research Resources page

TTHA's Syllabi page


Major Works:
Editor: Far From the Madding Crowd (Norton)


Co-author: Hart Crane: A Descriptive Bibliography


Co-author: Reference Sources in English and American Literature


Editorial Board: English Literature in Transition


Editorial Board: Cithara


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              TEACHING CAREER
Distinguished Teaching rofessor of English Emeritus: College at Fredonia, SUNY

Faculty Exchange Scholar: SUNY


Visiting Professor: University of Wisconsin

Visiting Professor: University of Trier
Visiting Professor: Stockholm University
Scholarly sample:
(see below):
"The 'Modernity' of Hardy's Jude the Obscure," A Spacious Vision: Essays on Hardy, eds, Phillip V, Mallett & Ronald P. Draper (Newmill: The Patten Press, 1994),49-64.


Bob sure set an example for all of us. He never stopped learning -- Harris Kwong

Bob was one of my favorite teachers and mentors in undergraduate and graduate school and later, a true friend in a difficult time. This tough-minded, reticent man was also compassionate and tender, very careful with people's feelings.-- Diana Hume George
Robert Schweik was presented (Dorchester, 2000), with a Festschrift -- Days to Recollect : Essays in Honour of Robert Schweik--a collection of essays by eminent Hardy scholars published as a tribute to his scholarly excellence in the field of Hardy studies.


Bob's son, Charlie Schweik, had secretly flown over to England from the US  for this special occasion. He had travelled to Dorchester unbeknownst to his father and, dis-playing all the furtive skills of a true Hardy native, had crept through the back streets of the town to be smuggled by me through the side door of the Corn Exchange. Here he  appeared as if by magic  from the wings of the auditorium to congratulate his amazed father -- already astonished by the unexpected  Festschrift presentation. No wonder the heavens broke -- flooding Bob in streams of silver light on this unforgettable occasion --  Rosemarie Morgan
How can I be crying for someone I never met? I loved seeing Bob Schweik's name appear, whether it be on The Hardy Association's Poem of the Month (POTM) or the Forum, as I knew I was always in for a treat. I loved the way he always got right to the point and made his own points so clearly. Clarity and rigour were his trademarks, and I was delighted, albeit daunted, to find him generously prepared to engage with me on the POTM --- my joy would know no bounds if he actually conceded a point. My thoughts go with you all who knew Bob personally, but especially to his family. I very much regret not having met him to thank him in person. -- Carolyn McGrath
Bob was my first professional friend (outside graduate school and my first job). We met at an MLA (where else?) and had lunch with Harvey Curtis Webster. It was after Bob's wonderful essay on Tess appeared in College English, the essay that has been more useful to me than any other single essay or book, so I was ready and eager to admire, but Bob was more interested in Webster's work than in accepting plaudits for his own. This was a characteristic that typified him for his entire career. He was always generous in his admiration of others. And he remained a writer about Hardy who kept seeing angles that others had overlooked -- I think of one of his lectures on art and Jude at one of the Dorchester conferences. Whatever his age, it seems harsh that he has died while so young.  -- Dale Kramer
I  met him at Dorchester two summers ago and greatly enjoyed his company. He was great to work with. He was altogether a lovely man and will be much missed.-- Terry Wright
I never met Bob in person, but we exchanged e-mails very frequently, and just two weeks ago he wrote a letter of recommendation for me as I continue my seemingly endless quest for a tenure-track job.  I admired his openness, his friendliness, and his critical abilities.  He became to me a true friend.  I was very much looking forward to the chance of meeting him at the upcoming HAY conference, and I'm devastated to know it will never happen.  --  Paul J. Niemeyer
I was another person who had never met Bob, but corresponded with him over a review I was doing. What an extraordinarily kind person he was in his e-mails and replies to me, chatty as well as professional. We even had some jokes about his move to another house a few months ago, because I'm going through the same process. I'd hoped to meet him at Yale next year, talk Hardy, and many other things.
-- Paul Titchmarsh


Bob was at my side in 1997, in Dorchester,  when Jim Gibson -- dear soul in Hardy fellowship --first proposed that I should establish a Hardy Association in the United States.  I blanched at the  idea  -- but  there was Bob, at my side, kind and supportive as always, offering to help. Maybe we should try  the World Wide Web? (we looked at each other blankly and burst out laughing: neither of us had the faintest idea what this thing was  -  the internet). But from that day to this he has never left my side, not for a month, not for a week, not for a day. Together we taught ourselves and each other the vagaries of websites, email, html and all that daunting stuff. Together we negotiated the hazards and overcame the hurdles. Together we gathered in the extraordinary team of 21 world class Hardy scholars that is now The Thomas Hardy Association. As a friend, there was none finer. Selfless, supportive, gracious, generous -hearted and infinitely loving, Bob not only had a huge bear hug he also had the biggest heart I have ever known! It's hard to imagine going on without him. At my own various departures and returns he would always email me Hardy's lines, "Woman much missed..."  How I wish I could give him back his own words, now. There is, indeed, a spirit gone from the earth. - -Rosemarie Morgan
Bob's rigor was matched by his kindness.  I don't see how he can be replaced. --Bill Morgan
Bob Schweik was an early and active member of this list.  He joined and introduced himself to the rest of us (a small band at that time) in the very first month of VICTORIA's existence - February, 1993 - and thereafter was a thoughtful voice in our discussions for several years.  In one of his posts he recalled with gratitude the kindnesses of the teachers and colleagues who first drew him toward Victorian Studies.  Many of us will forever recall with equal gratitude Bob's own kind encouragement and collegiality.-- Patrick Leary
The first THS Conference I attended was in 1996, which was also when I met Bob for the first time.  I hope it is not immodest to say that we "clicked" immediately, as he did with so many, though his superior levels of professional attainment, depth and breadth of knowledge about Hardy and the genial respect I witnessed paid him by other conferees quite humbled me.  He seemed to sense this in me and took every opportunity during that week to speak to me, never once needing to be reminded of my name.  He was the kindest and gentlest of highly disciplined academics, and he also had the best sense of humor of any serious scholar I have ever known.  We began an e-mail correspondence that lasted till last summer, and he honored me by asking me to watch out for  contemporary materials on Hardy in the New York Times and London's Daily Telegraph.  My last chance to collaborate in person with him was the joint THS and TTHA Conference at Cambridge in 2005; I have particularly fond memories of sharing pints in a small pub and incompetently attempting to help set up machinery for his audio-visual presentation, events that had no causality between them, I assure you (sad smile). Had I simply known him as a wit and scholar, I'd be saddened at the loss of a great mind.
 -- Julian W. Whipple
I loved Bob's calm, gentlemanly insistence. His graciousness and formality always  made me feel like a lady. And yet, because he was so warm, I found him very pat-on-the back huggable. -- Ramsay Breslin.
It is a tremendous shock to hear of Bob's death. He was so very kind to me when I first joined the Association, spending time reading my MA dissertation and providing me with such helpful criticism and support. He never made me feel belittled or inadequate, but always helped me to feel that my contribution was worthwhile. I shall really miss his kindness and support both on and off the forum.
Bless you Bob, and good night, sleep well. Jacky Wilkinson
Bob will be very much missed, one doesn't meet many people with his generosity and kindness.
A few years ago I had the good fortune to be introduced to him at the Hardy Conference, as a student needing Hardy scholars to interview on the subject of their use of bibliographies.  I was feeling very nervous and unsure of myself but within seconds of speaking to Bob all was well.  His friendly manner and willingness to help me put me completely at ease.  He gave me the benefit of his knowledge and experience of using Hardy resources and I went away encouraged and excited about so much new material for my project.-- Jeanie Smith

Robert C Schweik

The range and variety of Hardy's influence on modern novelists has by now been more than amply demonstrated,1 and the connection of some aspects of his Jude the Obscure to subsequent developments in the novel has long been acknowledged: it has become a commonplace to say, for example, that Hardy strongly influenced the treatment of human sexuality in the modern novel from D.H. Lawrence onward. As Ian Gregor put it, 'where Jude ends The Rainbow begins'.2

But if the influence of Hardy's Jude on the history of the novel is unquestionable, its 'modernity' has been sharply disputed. One reason for the dispute lies, I think, in the way that claims for--and denials of--the 'modernity' of Jude the Obscure tend to be set forth. Irving Howe, for example, describes Jude in the following terms:

Jude the Obscure is Hardy's most distinctly 'modern' work, for it rests upon a cluster of assumptions central to modernist literature: that in our time men wishing to be more than dumb clods must live in permanent doubt and intellectual crisis; that for such men, to whom traditional beliefs are no longer available, life has become inherently problematic . . . and that courage, if it is to be found at all, consists in readiness to accept pain while refusing the comforts of certainty.3

Such sweeping claims for the 'modernity' of Jude have led to equally sharp denials, perhaps the most categorical of which is that by C.H. Salter:

[Hardy] uses the word modern vaguely and applies it to much that is not really modern or only trivially so, and sometimes as a term of reproach. He expresses a pessimism not produced by modern causes, but timeless and congenital . . . . Hardy's idea of tragedy is simple and medieval.4

In disagreements of this kind, both sides tend to make sweeping assumptions that 'modernity' is reducible to some central ideological stance which a work of art might or might not reflect. But, particularly in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, works of high art tend to exhibit exceptional diversity of form and matter--an array of more or less distinct, often obscurely related, widely varying, and frequently conflicting attitudes and techniques--and an equal diversity of relationships to their cultural context. Finding some centre in that diversity is an exercise in futile reductivity, and assuming there is such a centre is all but useless, I think, in attempting to define the 'modernity' of a work of art like Jude--especially given the conclusions of recent studies about its profound ambiguities.5

Rather, in art history--and particularly for the nineteenth and twentieth centuries--it is far wiser to proceed on the assumption that whatever may be said to constitute the 'modernity' of a given work of art must inevitably be the product of selective retrospection: the identification of some of its features, from out of many others, that may be said to be 'modern' in their day because, from the vantage point of a later time, they can be seen to have been at the leading edge of one or another notable change beginning to take place in the arts. Describing the way any given work of art combines such features can be a useful way of identifying its peculiar kind of 'modernity'. It is in this way that I want to consider the 'modernity' of Jude the Obscure. The claim I make here is that in Jude--apart from the ways in which Hardy rendered his characters' sexuality--it is possible to identify three techniques remarkably similar to those beginning to be adopted by other artists in different countries and in different media at almost exactly the same time, and that, in this respect, Jude the Obscure was at the forefront of three important developments in the history of Western art--and 'modern' in that way. The changes I am concerned with are these:

(1) the growing practice of ending works of art in ways that deny the audience a sense of resolution and closure,

(2) the emergence of the kinds of unusual distortion and simplification characteristic of certain forms of expressionist art, and

(3) the beginnings of a practice of mixing sharply conflicting artistic modes in a single art work.

Subsequently these strategies would be exploited in extreme forms in many works of art associated with 'modernism'.

Some of the ways Jude embodies these features have been partly described;6 others have not, however, nor has their striking conjunction in the novel and their relationship to the emergence of parallel strategies in other art forms in the years 1893-4 been pointed out.

Techniques for Denying Readers a Sense of

Final Resolution and Closure

A greater willingness to find new kinds of endings was one notable consequence of the growing rage for innovation in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century art, and those innovations were put to an enormously wide range of artistic purposes. Among these was the use of a complex of devices for creating a more open-ended art work--one which, in Robert Martin Adams' phrase, included 'a major unresolved conflict with the intent of displaying its unresolvedness'.7 Devices to create that kind of 'openness' came to be employed with greater frequency and obviousness from the end of the century onward.

Some few signs of an increasing willingness of novelists to exploit such endings began to appear after the middle of the nineteenth century in England and on the Continent. For example, in both Madame Bovary (1857) and The Sentimental Education (1869), Flaubert gave the final words to a character who speaks simplistic banalities that leave the reader with no concluding authorial overview which might create a surer sense of resolution. Of the multiple endings Dickens wrote to Great Expectations (1861), the first would have denied readers the sense of resolution that comes from the conventional use of a marriage to suggest an achieved happiness. Hardy, too, claimed that in the composition of The Return of the Native he had intended to have a more 'open' ending--again without a marriage--but was discouraged from doing so by the conventions required by serial publication.8

From that time forward, however, the endings of Hardy's major fiction reveal a tentative movement toward the use of less resolved endings. A marked lack of resolution is notable in The Woodlanders, for example, though it is softened by Marty South's final apostrophe to Giles Winterborne.9 Even at the conclusion of Tess, Hardy provided a very important suggestion of some possibility of a happier future for Angel Clare in the company of a 'spiritualized' Tess: her younger sister, Lisa Lu.10 It was only with Jude that Hardy finally created a narrative ending which not only left major issues emphatically unresolved but also suggested pointedly that the suffering and deprivation endured by one of its major characters would continue.

What is striking about Jude is both the multiplicity of techniques Hardy exploited in it to create that unresolved open-endedness, and also the way one of those techniques was paralleled by a similar development in music at almost exactly the same time.

To emphasize the lack of resolution in Jude, Hardy adopted at least three major devices. First, as Alan Friedman has noted, the counterpointed treatment of marriage and funeral at the end of the novel deprives both marriages of the traditional effect of closure these familiar endings usually have. Second, as Daniel Schwartz and Peter Casagrande have pointed out, Jude the Obscure has an 'iterative structure' of remarriages and returns of scenes and characters and a 'cyclical' plot pattern which help create a sense of pointless getting nowhere. David Sonstroem's diagram of the monotonously repeated back-and-forth pattern of Jude's movements in the novel suggests in still another way just how very repetitive its structure really is.11

But certainly the most powerful of the formal devices Hardy used to create the sense of unresolved open-endedness notable in Jude is the prolonged pattern of Jude's gradually diminishing aspirations and repeated checks on them which come in increasingly quick succession, and at progressively lower levels, in ten stages:

(1) Jude first aspires to become a Bishop. (I, 1-9)12

(2) Frustrated by Arabella's trick, he less confidently tries again; but, rejected by the college masters, he recognizes the collapse of his university hopes. (II, 1-7),

(3) He then aspires to enter the church as a licentiate; but, baffled by Sue's marriage to Phillotson, he spends the night with Arabella, and experiences a weakening of his faith and his ambition for ecclesiastical life. (III, 1-10)

(4) Jude nevertheless persists in his studies; but, when Sue flees to him, he finds his feelings for her inconsistent with his ecclesiastical ambitions, burns his books, and abandons his hope to be a clergyman. (IV, 1-3)

(5) Jude next seeks fulfillment with Sue; but he is frustrated by her sexual reticence and her unwillingness to marry which brings upon them such social disapproval that they are driven to wandering from town to town. (IV, 5; V, 4-7)

(6) After years of wandering, Jude aspires only to live peacefully in Christminster; but, returning there, he feels his humiliation more keenly and is faced with the catastrophe of his children's deaths and Sue's distraught reaction to it. (V, 8; VI, 3-7)

(7) Sue's return to Phillotson reduces Jude to a bare hope for her possible return; but even this small aspiration is destroyed by her intransigence and by Jude's entrapment in a loveless marriage with Arabella. (VI, 3-7)

(8) In the end Jude is reduced to seeking nothing more than his own death by exposing himself to the rain and cold; but even his suicide attempt is thwarted by a recovery that enables him to return to work. (VI, 8-10)

(9) When his health finally does break down, Jude's last wish for water goes unheard, his barely whispered quotation of Job is mocked by the repeated 'Hurrah' of the Remembrance Day crowd, and his death itself becomes only a vexing inconvenience to Arabella as she goes about the business of attracting a new lover. (VI, 11)

(10) In the final image of the novel, even Jude's remaining books--the relics of his previous ambition--seem 'to pale to a sickly cast' at the Remembrance Week noise, while the novel's last words emphasize that Sue's suffering will continue. (VI, 11)

If we were to represent graphically this pattern of Jude's progressively declining aspirations and the repeated checks upon them, they would appear as a line with a succession of peaks representing his aspirations followed by a subsequent decline, the peaks and valleys becoming progressively lower and flatter, until reduced to scarcely more than a ripple--but never quite terminating because even the finality of Jude's death is compromised by the prediction that Sue's pitiful sufferings will go on.13

The increasing employment of 'open' endings in the history of the novel after the publication of Jude has been extensively studied--notably by Alan Friedman, Beverly Gross, Frank Kermode, David H. Richter, and, most searchingly, by Maria Torgovnick14. These studies make clear that when Hardy published Jude in 1895 he was at the leading edge of what would become a widespread use of unresolved endings in literature. Such endings began to be more commonly used in the decades immediately following the publication of Jude; they show up in such disparate novels as Lawrence's Sons and Lovers (1913), Ford's The Good Soldier (1915), and Forster's A Passage to India (1924). And, in later fiction such devices appear with greater frequency and in more extreme forms--often in major touchstones of 'modernist' literature. Faulkner's Absalom, Absalom! (1936) and some of Samuel Beckett's works--to cite just two very different examples--are notorious for the ways they deny audiences a sense of resolution.

So much did such endings become a staple of twentieth-century literature that they have achieved the status of having become themselves conventional; as Maria Torgovnick wryly observed, 'by the nineteen-sixties and nineteen-seventies, the 'open' ending had become too trite and expected to have great imaginative force'.15 In short, the multiple formal features Hardy exploited to create a sense of lack of resolution in Jude put that novel squarely at the beginning of a movement toward unresolved endings which would quickly emerge as one characteristic feature of much modern literature.

There are parallels in music to such literary narrative strategies,16 and it is not surprising to find the emergence of similar devices in music beginning almost precisely at the time Jude was published. Note, for example, the remarkable structural similarity between Hardy's Jude and the conclusion of the final movement of Tchaikovsky's Sixth Symphony which premiered just two years earlier on October 28, 1893, at St. Petersburg. Tchaikovsky not only ended it with a slow movement--something all but unheard of in the history of the symphony--but devised a series of sweeping musical lines in which the melody seems to heave itself up, then collapse back down, then repeat that pattern at a lower pitch; instead of resolving into a well-defined conclusion, they grow darker in color, and finally die very gradually away in an extraordinarily long diminuendo to the pppp of Tchaikovsky's final notation.

That unusual final movement unsettled the audience at its premiere; structurally it bears a striking resemblance to the pattern of successively diminished aspirations and defeats which is one of the central formal features of Hardy's novel. Moreover, Tchaikovsky's note on his Sixth Symphony emphasizes that he had in mind a program in which life is imaged as first impulsive passion and confidence leading to disappointments, collapse of hopes, and death17--a program that squares remarkably with Hardy's obvious intentions in Jude. It is not at all surprising that some ten years later, after Hardy had heard the Sixth Symphony, he would write that he detected the 'modern note of unrest' in Tchaikovsky's music.18

And, as in the history of literature since Hardy's Jude, so in the history of music, since the first performance of Tchaikovsky's Sixth Symphony in 1893, a wide range of strategies which create a sense of lack of resolution emerged, and, again, they were put to increasingly varied uses. Just three years after the first performance of the Sixth Symphony, Richard Strauss ended his Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1896) in a torturously indecisive way by allowing a B major/C major conflict of tonalities to go entirely unresolved. Gustav Mahler, to mention yet another example, ended his Ninth Symphony (1910) with scattered musical phrases that seemingly trail into nowhere; and, just one year later, Igor Stravinsky chose to end his 1911 version of Petrushka by having the orchestra fade to a whisper and end on an unresolved melodic dissonance--a C natural followed by an F sharp. In fact, within twenty years such endings became as much a commonplace in modern music as in modern literature; today, discussion of circularity and a sense of getting nowhere common in the works of such composers as Philip Glass and David Del Tredici and in the writings of John Barth, Thomas Pyncheon, and Donald Barthelme has reached the level of the Sunday Supplement article.19

My first observation, then, is that in denying his readers a sense of resolution in Jude the Obscure, Hardy was at the forefront in adopting a technique which, in many variations, would figure prominently in subsequent developments not only in modern literature but in modern music.

Expressionist Elements in Jude

A second feature notable in Jude puts that novel at the beginning of a very different development in literature--and one that played an important role in the history of the visual arts as well. In some places in Jude, Hardy adopted a style in which he attempted to intensify the expression of feeling and attitude by exaggeration, simplification and distortion--in short, by the use of devices which are among the distinctive elements of certain kinds of 'expressionist' art. What is striking about Jude is the relatively narrow range in which Hardy employed those narrative strategies and the intensive use he made of them to create a single character. Well-known notes by Hardy from the period 1886-1890 testify to his interest in such devices:

My art is to intensify the expression of things . . . .20

The 'simply natural' is interesting no longer. The much-decried, mad, late- Turner rendering is now necessary to create my interest.(192)

Art is a disproportioning--(i.e., distorting, throwing out of proportion)-- of realities, to show more clearly the features that matter in those realities . . . . (239)

Hardy's emphasis on intensification and distortion to convey the artist's subjective sense of reality is consistent with the practices and theories of expressionist art whose precursors in literature and painting were emerging just at the time Hardy wrote Jude. Of course 'expressionism' took a wide variety of forms, but intense subjectivity, hyperbole, simplification and distortion to emphasize extreme, often pathological psychological states are some features often associated with it. In Jude such 'expressionist' features appear in places where characters exhibit exaggerated psychological states and the narrator's comments involve extreme distortions of reality--for example in Hardy's description of Jude's despair when he is confronted with the difficulties of learning Latin and Greek:

. . . he wished . . . that he had never been born.

Somebody might have come along that way who would have asked him his trouble, and might have cheered him . . . . But nobody did come, because nobody does; and under the crushing recognition of his gigantic error Jude continued to wish himself out of the world. (I-4)

Such extreme exaggerations of feeling and distortions of reality--'but nobody did come, because nobody does'--constitute one major stylistic feature of Jude. They appear in such hyperboles as Mrs. Edlin's comment, 'Weddings be funerals 'a b'lieve nowadays', but, most importantly, Hardy used this mode to render Little Father Time almost entirely out of anti-realistic exaggerations. Time is a walking hyperbole; the following quotations are entirely characteristic of the language in the novel--both description and dialogue--used to depict him:

He was Age masquerading as Juvenility . . . . [H]is face took a back view over some great Atlantic of Time, and appeared not to care about what it saw. (V-3)

The boy seemed to have begun with the generals of life and never to have concerned himself with the particulars. (V-3)

'His face is like the tragic mask of Melpomene'. (V- 4)

'The doctor says there are such boys springing up amongst us . . . . He says it is the beginning of the universal wish not to live'. (VI-2

'I should like the flowers very very much, if I didn't keep on thinking they'd be all withered in a few days!' (V-5)

'I ought not be born, ought I?' (VI-1)

The use of such techniques to convey an emotionally charged view of reality was emerging in literature, specifically in the plays of August Strindberg, just about the time Hardy produced Jude. As early as 1887, Strindberg's play The Father made a sharp departure from current realistic conventions; and by 1898, just three years after the publication of Jude, Strindberg had completed two parts of his To Damascus trilogy, the first fully expressionist literary work in which canons of realism are violated in favor of manipulating highly simplified characters expressive of extreme feeling. Typical features of Strindberg's expressionist mode are notable in such lines as these which he gave to his character 'Stranger' in To Damascus:

. . . . If I even knew why I was born-- why I should be standing here--where to go--what to do! Do you believe that we can be doomed already here on earth?

. . . when I thought I had found happiness, it was only a trap to lure me into a greater misery . . . . Whenever the golden apple fell into my hand, it was either poisoned or rotten at the core.

. . . my fate is being ruled by two different forces, one giving me all that I ask for, the other standing beside me tainting the gift, so that when I receive it, it is so worthless that I don't want to touch it.21

Father Time would be entirely at home in such a play; even his nickname would be consistent with Strindberg's device of using general rather than specifically personal names.

Expressionist techniques such as Strindberg exploited in his dramas just at the time Jude was published were also appearing in Germany in the plays of Frank Wedekind, whose Spring's Awakening (1891) shocked audiences by its exploitation of grotesque caricature, its use of scenes with absurdist elements and, in the last act, its abandonment of realistic conventions by the introduction of that eerie character, The Man in the Mask, to express Wedekind's views. Subsequently the use of generalized characters and other devices pioneered by Strindberg and Wedekind appeared almost simultaneously in such disparate productions as Oskar Kokoschka's Murder, Hope of Women (1907), Wassily Kandinsky's The Yellow Sound (1909), Schoenberg and Poppenheim's Expectation (1909), and later in such literary works as Eugene O'Neill's The Great God Brown (1925) and Sean O'Casey's The Silver Tassie (1928). Characters that serve as metaphors for ideas and extremes of feeling, as Hardy's Father Time does, would subsequently appear prominently in 'modernist' literature: James Joyce, for example, used a variation on that technique to depict Bloom's innermost desires in the 'Circe' section of Ulysses, and, in extreme form it may be found in such works as Kafka's The Transformation where the metaphor becomes embodied as realistically treated fact.

Hardy's use of such techniques in Jude just at the time when expressionism was emerging in the literature of Europe was paralleled by a similar development in painting. In December, 1893, just two years before Jude was published, Edvard Munch exhibited his proto-expressionist collection titled The Frieze of Life in Berlin.22 There are images among those works which vividly replicate expressionist elements in Jude: Munch's painting titled The Girl and Death, for example, might serve as a visual rendering of Mrs. Edlin's observation 'Weddings be funerals 'a b'lieve nowadays', and his well-known The Scream could scarcely find a more fitting counterpart in the fiction of his day than in Hardy's Father Time.23

Edvard Munch:

The Scream

Photograph by

Robert Schweik ©,

(courtesy: The Oslo

National Gallery)

Furthermore, Munch's description of his paintings as 'nature transformed according to one's subjective disposition' and his expressed intention to paint not physical appearances but emotional reactions to them24--these all accord with Hardy's views quoted earlier. Munch's use of deformed, hallucinatory images and intensification of natural color had an enormous impact on many artists who have subsequently been identified with 'expressionism': clearly he influenced the Die Brücke painters, especially Emil Nolde, and served as an immediate model for the later twentieth-century expressionists who formed the Berlin Sezession and others who followed them.25


Edvard Munch: The Girl and Death

Photograph by Robert Schweik © (courtesy, The Munch Museum, Oslo)


In short, by exploiting distinctly expressionist elements in Jude, Hardy was once again at the beginning of a powerful movement toward one manifestation of 'modernism' in art--one that cut across national boundaries and appeared in parallel ways in different mediums.

Employing Sharply Contrasting Artistic Modes

In 1887 Zola wrote to Strindberg criticising his play The Father for what today would be called its expressionist elements--the 'schematic nature' of its characters, their 'lack of reality', the use of types rather than individuals and Strindberg's 'lack of concern for naturalistic plausibility'.26 It certainly would not have occurred to Zola to consider injecting a character from a Strindberg play into one of his novels. Yet, that, in effect, is what Hardy did in Jude the Obscure. The expressionist devices Hardy used to render Father Time in Jude were very much like those employed by Strindberg--and sharply at odds with the bulk of the novel.

As Michael Millgate has pointed out, Time is the sole arguable exception to the more firmly realized other characters in Jude,27 and the styles Hardy adopted throughout the bulk of the novel were in the tradition of realistic fiction.28 Such scenes as the fight that erupts at the meeting where Phillotson contests his dismissal (IV-6) had, as Hardy was aware, something of Fielding's comic realism29, but in Jude this Fieldingesque manner blends into styles and techniques more characteristic of Flaubert and Zola. In Jude's deathbed scene, for example, Hardy set Jude's dying words against the background of the cries of the Remembrance Week crowd--a strategy reminiscent of Flaubert's device of having Rodolphe's seduction of Emma Bovary take place against the backdrop of speeches at an agricultural fair. And equally memorable are those scenes which strike us, as they struck Hardy's contemporaries, as Zolaesque:30 the scene where Jude and Arabella take tea in an 'inn of an inferior class'(I, 7) has elements reminiscent of The Dram Shop, for example, and the pig-killing (I, 10) of The Earth.31 In short, Father Time's appearance in Jude the Obscure is as if a character from Strindberg's To Damascus had somehow wandered into a novel of Fielding, Flaubert, Zola--or Hardy.

At the time Jude was published, the beginnings of such mixing of sharply contrasting artistic modes were just appearing in Western art. One striking early example is Joris-Karl Huysmans' En Rade (1887) which so jarringly combined dream and reality that Zola wrote a letter to Huysmans complaining that the result was a 'confusion qui n'est pas de l'art'.32 In the later work of Henrik Ibsen this mixing of sharply contrasting artistic modes took the form of conjoining the domestic realism of his earlier period with the symbolism notable in his plays from The Wild Duck (1884) onward, so that in The Master Builder (a play Hardy saw in 1893),33 Ibsen's symbolism rubs shoulders with a realism as markedly different from it as Solness's references to a 'proper castle in the air' are to the 'real foundation' he proposes to build under it.34

This practice of mixing sharply contrasting artistic modes would subsequently become one of the most distinctive features of modernist art. One thinks of the quotations and allusions to literary and musical classics juxtaposed against gritty scenes of contemporary British life in The Waste Land (1922), and the similar collage-like mixing of sharply contrasting modes in Ezra Pound's Cantos (1917-1970). Virginia Woolf exploited another variation on the same strategy in To the Lighthouse (1927) by abruptly shifting from the minutely detailed and intensely personal interior monologues of the first and last sections of the novel to the impersonal, detached, and sweepingly general narrative style of the 'Time Passes' section. And, again, the device was pushed to its extreme limits in Joyce's Ulysses (1922), where shifts from one stylistic mode to another, sometimes within the space of a single chapter, occur with bewildering variety.

Conjoining sharply contrasting literary modes in one novel--as Hardy combined elements of literary realism with those of literary expressionism in Jude--also has a parallel in music: it is as if a composer were to have different parts of an orchestra playing in two dissonant musical keys in the same composition. And, in fact, at just the time Hardy was working on Jude, precisely that kind of development was taking place in music. Some time between 1892 and 1895--just about the time Hardy published Jude--Charles Ives added an 'Interlude' to his Variations on 'America' in which he combined F major with A-flat major.35 In the following years other composers began to exploit that same technique: Richard Strauss's modulation from G-minor to D-minor over a G flat major pedal chord in the love music of A Hero's Life (1898), Ravel's Water Games (1901) which juxtaposed C-major and F-major; Prokofiev's piano composition Sarcasms (1912-14) with B-flat minor in the left hand playing against F-sharp minor in the right. And, in the works of one modern composer, Darius Milhaud, the technique was pushed to the extreme of using three and four keys simultaneously. By 1920 the practice had already become so widespread that in the following decade it prompted a series of published analyses.36


If here we seem to be at a far remove from Hardy, my point is that, in his mixing of expressionistic and realistic modes in Jude in 1895, he was again at the forefront of a development which cut across artistic forms and national boundaries and led to major formal innovations characteristic of some of the touchstones of later twentieth-century art.

In her Hardy and the Sister Arts, Joan Grundy speculated about whether there were features in Jude which anticipated such later artistic developments as Cubism or Futurism and noted that 'the experience of modern life imaged at the start of the novel . . . certainly suggests a context similar to that out of which such art movements have sprung'.37 I have attempted here to point out some of the ways Jude was indeed part of a context out of which a number of distinctive features of modernist art have emerged. Hardy's use of multiple formal devices which convey a sense of unresolved and problematic open-endedness; his adoption of an expressionist style in portions of the novel; and, even more, his mixing of sharply contrasting literary modes--all these are striking instances of his early use of distinctive formal strategies which would show up with growing frequency in modern literature and other artistic mediums. The increasingly pervasive use of those strategies in the arts from the publication of Jude onward makes clear that Hardy was working at the leading edge of some of the major artistic movements of his day, and by identifying these particular features it is possible to specify in a relatively precise way just how Hardy's Jude the Obscure may be said to have been in its time a 'modern' novel.



1. See Peter J. Casagrande, Hardy's Influence on the Modern Novel (Totowa, NJ: Barnes & Noble Books, 1987).

2. Ian Gregor, The Great Web: The Form of Hardy's Major Fiction (Totowa, NJ: Rowman and Littlefield, 1987), p. 233.

3. Irving Howe, Thomas Hardy (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1967), p. 134.

4. C. H. Salter, Good Little Thomas Hardy (Totowa, New Jersey: Barnes and Noble Books, 1981), p. 26.

5. See, for example, Ramon Saldivar's 'Jude the Obscure: Reading and the Spirit of the Law', in Harold Bloom's Thomas Hardy's Jude the Obscure (New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1987), pp. 103-118, and the summary points made by Gary Adelman, Jude the Obscure: A Paradise of Despair (New York: Twayne Publishers, 1992), pp. 29-30, 98, and 107.

6. In Hardy and the Sister Arts (London: Macmillan, 1979), p. 26, Joan Grundy briefly suggests a possible formal connection of Jude to Cubism, Futurism, and Vorticism, but does not pursue the matter further; also, in 'Some Surrealist Elements in Hardy's Prose and Verse', Thomas Hardy Annual, No. 3 (London: Macmillan, 1985), Rosemary Sumner has pointed to relationships of some aspects of Hardy's art--though not of Jude--to certain features of works of DeChirico, Ernst, Picasso, Magritte, and Duchamp.

7. Robert Martin Adams, Strains of Discord: Studies in Literary Openness (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1958), p. 13.

8. See Carl J. Weber, 'Hardy's Grim Note in The Return of the Native' Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, 36 (1942), 37-45. About how the present conclusion of The Return of the Native reinforces the doubts raised by the novel rather than resolves them, see Robert Schweik, 'Theme, Character, and Perspective in Hardy's The Return of the Native', Philological Quarterly, 41 (1962) 757-767.

9. Robert Schweik, 'The Ethical Structure of Hardy's The Woodlanders', Archiv für das Studium der Neuren Sprachen und Literaturen, 211 (1974) 31-44.

10. On the way the relationship of Angel Clare and 'Liza-Lu forms a kind of 'new marriage', see Jan B. Gordon, 'Origins, History, and the Reconstitution of Family: Tess's Journey', Thomas Hardy, ed. Harold Bloom (New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1987), pp. 115-135.

11. See Alan Friedman, The Turn of the Novel (New York: Oxford University Press, 1966), pp. 71-74; Daniel R. Schwarz, 'Beginnings and Endings in Hardy's Major Fiction' in Critical Approaches to the Fiction of Thomas Hardy, ed. by Dale Kramer (London: Macmillan, 1979), pp. 33-34; Peter Casagrande, Unity in Hardy's Novels: 'Repetitive Symmetries' (London: Macmillan, 1982), p. 203; and David Sonstroem, 'Order and Disorder in Jude the Obscure, English Literature in Transition, 24 (1981), p. 9.

12. All references to the text of Jude the Obscure are to the Wessex Edition (London: Macmillan, 1912) and are indicated parenthetically by part numbers in Roman numerals followed by chapter numbers in Arabic numerals.

13. Fernand Lagarde's 'A propos de la construction de Jude the Obscure', Caliban, 3 (January, 1966), 185-214, argues --mistakenly, I think--for a pattern of rising hopes in the first four parts of the novel and only then declining, rather than the pattern of persistent and inexorable decline I point to in my analysis.

14. See Alan Friedman, The Turn of the Novel (New York: Oxford University Press, 1966); Beverley Gross, 'Narrative Time and the Open-ended Novel', Criticism, 8 (1966), 362-76; Frank Kermode, The Sense of an Ending (New York: Oxford University Press, 1967); David H. Richter Fables' End: Completeness and Closure in Rhetorical Fiction (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1974); and Maria Torgovnick, Closure in the Novel (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1981), pp. 202-204.

15. Torgovnick, p. 206; see also Richter, pp. 2-7.

16. See, for example, Anthony Newcomb's analysis in 'Schumann and Late Eighteenth-Century Narrative Strategies', Nineteenth-Century Music, 11 (Fall, 1987), 164-174.

17. John Warrack, Tchaikovsky (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1973), p. 266.

18. Michael Millgate, Thomas Hardy: A Biography (New York: Random House, 1982), p. 448.

19. See, for example, Donal [sic] Henahan, 'The Going-Nowhere Music--And Where it Came From', New York Times, Section 2, Arts and Liesure, Sunday, December 6, 1981, pp. 1, 25.

20. Thomas Hardy, The Life and Work of Thomas Hardy, ed. by Michael Millgate (London: Macmillan, 1984), p. 183. Subsequent page numbers are provided parenthetically.

21. August Strindberg, To Damascus I, in Eight Expressionist Plays by August Strindberg, translated by Arvid Paulson (New York: New York University Press, 1972), pp. 140-141.

22. The confusing use of the term impressionism in early twentieth-century painting is partly sorted out in Victor H. Miesel's 'The Term Expressionism in the Visual Arts (1911-1920)', ed. by Hayden V. White, The Uses of History: Essays in Intellectual and Social History Presented to William J. Bossenbrook (Detroit MI: Wayne State University Press, 1968), pp. 135-152.

23. Exemplars of the Munch works referred to are all in the Munch Museum, Oslo, and are reproduced in Arne Eggum's Edvard Munch: Paintings, Sketches, and Studies, trans. by Ragnar Christophersen (New York: Clarckson N. Potter, Inc., 1984), illus. nos. 7, 12, and 238.

24. Reinhold Heller, Edvard Munch: The Scream (New York: Viking Press, 1973), p. 23.

25. Edward Lockspeiser, Music and Painting: A Study in Comparative Ideas from Turner to Schoenberg (New York: Harper and Row, 1973), p. 133.

26. Quoted in R.S. Furness, Expressionism (London: Methuen and Company, 1973), p. 4.

27. Michael Millgate, Thomas Hardy: His Career as a Novelist (New York: Random House, 1971), p. 323.

28. For a differing view, particularly with respect to the realism of Hardy's treatment of Sue Bridehead, see Phillip Mallett, 'Sexual Ideology and Narrative Form in Jude the Obscure', English, 38 (Autumn, 1989), 211-224.

29. Hardy to Edmund Gosse, November 20, 1895, in Richard Little Purdy and Michael Millgate, eds., The Collected Letters of Thomas Hardy: Volume II 1893-1901 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1980), p. 99.

30. See, for example, the review by Jeannette L. Gilder titled 'Hardy the Degenerate', World, 13 (November, 1895), 15 and, also, the comments by Edmund Gosse and R. Y. Tyrrell recorded in R.G. Cox's Thomas Hardy: The Critical Heritage (London: Routledge, 1970), pp. 266 and 293.

31. Hardy recorded passages from English translations of Zola's Abbé Mouret's Transgressions and from Germinal in his '1876' notebook; see The Literary Notes of Thomas Hardy ed. by Lennart Björk (Göteborg: Acta Universitatis Gothoburgensis, 1974), I, 403-405 and II, 189- 191.

32. Emile Zola, Correspondance (Paris: F. Bernouard, 1928-29), letter of the 1st of June, 1887, p. 679. On the way En rade represents a movement from naturalism to a more 'expressionist' kind of art, see Ruth B. Antosh, 'J.-K. Huysmans' En rade: L'Enigme Résolué', Bulletin de la Société J.-K. Huysmans, 23 (1987), 33-43.

33. Hardy, The Life and Work of Thomas Hardy, p. 272.

34. Henrik Ibsen, The Oxford Ibsen, Vol. VII, ed by James Walter McFarlane, with translations by Jens Arp and James Walter MacFarlane (London: Oxford University Press, 1966), p. 432.

35. Charles Ives, Variations on 'America (1891) for Organ / 'Adeste Fidelis' in an Organ Prelude (1897) (New York: Music Press, 1949); this very early use of bitonality is notable particularly in the 'interlude' of measures 75-90. However, on p. [ii] an unsigned 'Note' to this edition suggests that the 'interlude' was not composed by 1891 but added some years later, and the subsequent questions raised by Maynard Solomon in 'Charles Ives: Some Questions of Veracity', Journal of the American Musicological Society, 40 (Fall, 1987), 443-470, do not increase confidence in the earlier date.

36. See, for example, J. Deroux, 'La Musique polytonale', La Revue musicale, 1921 (no. 11) and 1923 (no. 4), and A. Machabey, 'Disonance, polytonalité, and atonalité', La Revue musicale, 1931 (no. 116).

37. Joan Grundy, Hardy and the Sister Arts (London: The Macmillan Press, 1979), p. 66.

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