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Thomas Hardy and Victorian Communication

This book explores the relationship between Thomas Hardy's works and Victorian media and technologies of communication - especially the penny post and the telegraph. Through its close analysis of letters, telegrams, and hand-delivered notes in Hardy's novels, short stories, and poems, it ties together a wide range of subjects: technological and infrastructural developments; material culture; individual subjectivity and the construction of identity; the relationship between private experience and social conventions; and the new narrative possibilities suggested by modern modes of communication.
Product Details

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments.- List of Abbreviations.- Introduction: `A Modern Wessex of the penny post'.- 1. `The speaking age is passing away, to make room for the writing age': From Oral Tradition to Written Culture.- 2. `Inconvenient old letters': Letters and Privacy in Hardy's Fiction.- 3. `A more material existence than her own': Epistolary Selves in Hardy's Fiction.- 4. `Never so nice in your real presence as you are in your letters': Letters and Desire in Jude the Obscure. 5.`A Story of to-day': Hardy's Postal Plots.- 6. `Unopened and forgotten': Letters from the Margins.- 7. Epistolary Ghosts: Letters in Hardy's Poems and Shorter Fictions.- Conclusion, or the Profitable Reading of Letters.- Notes.- Bibliography.- Index.-

Promotional Information

"In situating Hardy's career in relation to the 1840 reform of the postal service, Koehler offers new and revealing readings of his plots that supplement, extend and challenge those already extant. The development in the technologies of communication thus takes its place (alongside steam power, the railways, sexual mores and gender challenges) as one of the many instances of Hardy's acknowledgement of the effect of the modern on the lives of ordinary men and women." (Jane Thomas, University of Hull, UK)

About the Author

Karin Koehler is Teaching and Research Assistant at the University of St Andrews, UK, where she pursued her award-winning doctoral research. She has taught on nineteenth- and twentieth-century literature at three Scottish Universities, while researching representations of media, technologies, and networks of communication in Victorian and modernist prose and poetry.


"Thomas Hardy and Victorian Communication will be a profitable study for scholars interested in the cultural minutia of Hardy's work." (Annette R. Federico, English Literature in Transition 1880-1920, Vol. 61 (2), 2018) "In Thomas Hardy and Victorian Communication, Karin Koehler draws our attention to how much still remains to be uncovered regarding the function of letters and written communication in Hardy's fiction ... . Thomas Hardy and Victorian Communication is a far-ranging and commanding investigation of its titular concerns, and it deserves a wide readership." (James Green, The British Society for Literature and Science,, September, 2017) "Koehler's study is not limited to considering methods of communication, such as the letters, telegrams and postal systems of her title. Throughout Thomas Hardy and Communication: Letters, Telegrams and Postal Systems, her study of Hardy's concern with new modes of communication is artfully woven into a study of developments in the form of the novel. ... her study offers a thorough and persuasively argued exploration of the centrality of letter writing to Hardy's modernist exploration of human relationships." (Trish Ferguson, Review of English Studies, June, 2017) "This new book constitutes a judicious, timely and innovatively conceived intervention in the field of Hardy studies. Karin Koehler succeeds, with real critical verve and originality, in shedding a fertile and absorbing light on these familiar Hardy texts, and her book can be highly recommended not only to students of his work but to all with an interest in the cultural questions pertaining to communication and text in the Victorian period." (Roger Ebbatson, Review of English Studies, 2017)

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