A man who used to notice such things : How Thomas Hardy's Interdisciplinary Program of Knowledge Acquirement Informed his Representations of Victorian Masculinities

" A man who used to notice such things " : How Thomas Hardy's Interdisciplinary Program of Knowledge Acquirement Informed his Representations of Victorian Masculinities
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  “ A man who used to notice such things”: How Thomas Hardy's Interdisciplinary Program of    Knowledge Acquirement Informed his epresentations of !ictorian "asculinities# In his early twenties, partially under the guidance of his friend and mentor Horace Moule, Thomas Hardy undertook an extensive interdisciplinary program of knowledge acquirement which continued unabated throughout his long life. Hardy was a voracious reader, his mother emima, fiercely independent and proud, had instilled a love of learning in her eldest child from a very early age. emima had been an omnivorous reader herself, as well as a collector of tales and folklore in the oral tradition. Hardy continued to request stories from her long after he became an established author, borrowing certain episodes for his own work, such as the !hag"riding! scene in !The #ithered$rm!. His relationship with %hakespeare began while he was still in short pants, at &' he had already read all of the great bard!s tragedies, though he was disappointed with  Hamlet   because !the ghost did not play his part up to the end as he ought to have done!.(nable to attend university Hardy was articled to ohn Hicks, a local )orchester architect. He then moved to *ondon at the age of ++ where he was employed as a draughtsman in the offices of $rthur lomfield. He took up lodgings at &- #estborne ark /illas, and this is where his literary career can truly be said to have begun. $n architectural draughtsman by day, Hardy devoted himself to a rigorous program of self"education in the evenings and at weekends. esides his extensive reading he took 0rench lessons, visited museums and art galleries 1Turner quickly became one of his favourite painters2, heard lectures, attended concerts, plays and operas, and began to write  poetry, his first love. Having already begun to verse himself in the 3lassics while still a teenager, henow began to tackle philosophical works such as the ositivism of 3omte, along with scientific and sociological tracts, all contributing to a monumental body of knowledge which he compulsively recorded in notebooks. It was at #estborne ark /illas that he began his famous !%tudies, %pecimens 4c.! notebook, writing out brief quotations from a plethora of authors as a series of vocabulary"building exercises, underlining words he found particularly interesting. Hardy would later write in !The rofitable 5eading of 0iction! 1&6662 that !7ood fiction may be defined here as that kind of imaginative writing which lies nearest to the epic, dramatic, or narrative masterpieces of the past...$ny system which should attach more importance to the delineation of his aspirations, affections, or humours, would condemn the old masters of imaginative creation from $eschylus to %hakespeare!.The aim of this paper is to show how Hardy!s interdisciplinary program of knowledge acquirement shaped his perceptions of the social, psycho"sexual, and evolutionary8biological constructions of /ictorian society, consequently informing his representations of masculinity withinhis novels. His intense program of study, begun in earnest in *ondon during the &6-9s, allowed him  to articulate a spectrum of masculinities within his fictional oeuvre, demonstrating how, rather than  being a monolithic hetero"normative concept, masculinity in fact remained a fluid construct shaped  by social, historical, and biological factors. )iscursive categories that I have identified within his novels include the $lpha"male, othering, the androgyne, the (nman and the Man"7irl, the homosocial continuum, latonism and misogyny, monomania, the Masculine rotest, the :edipus 3omplex, empathy, %toicism, and the philosophy of  Einfühlung  , or !feeling into ;ature!. Hardy!s useof interdisciplinarity allowed him to illustrate the complex and evolving nature of masculinities as experienced and articulated by /ictorian men, and by taking an interdisciplinary approach through research conducted from a twenty"first century perspective it is possible to identify how Hardy!s representations of masculinity differed from, challenged, or subverted those of his contemporaries.oth gender and identity are transitory constructs, neither are permanent or immune from subversion. $cknowledging a multiplicity of masculinities allows us to recogni<e the countless ways men have chosen to express their !manliness! across different times, places and contexts. )efinitions of what constitutes such manliness are often explicitly time"specific. $s udith utler notes= !the notion of a universal patriarchy has been widely critici<ed...for its failure to account for the workings of gender oppression in the concrete cultural contexts in which it exists!. $nticipating utler, eter %tearns, who wrote one of the first monographs to concentrate solely on masculinity asa separate field within gender studies >  Be a Man!  1&?@?2 > asserts that the only biological certainty for men is the genitalia with which they are born, all else is conditioned and constructed, for manhood as a socially recogni<ed concept flows more from cultural influences than any innate gender characteristics. !:ne was not born a man. :ne learned to be a man, acquiring characteristics that exaggerated some natural attributes and repressed others!. In !The rofitable 5eading of 0iction! Hardy maintains that the reader profits from what he terms !the accidents and appendages! of fiction, and the !trifles of useful knowledge, statistics, AandB queer historical fact!. $ question that perplexed many nineteenth"century writers was what defined ahuman being socially, psychologically and sexually. )ue to rapid industriali<ation and developments in physiology, evolutionary theory and the mental and social sciences, it became increasingly difficult to reconcile the various aspects of human behaviour with the notion of a !soul!.#hile religion remained a powerful social and ideological force for many /ictorians, the  progression of various sciences had led to the need for alternative explanations for the concept of existence. Hardy!s own view was a !disbelieving in a tribal god, man"shaped, fiery"faced and tyrannous, who flies into a rage on the slightest provocation!. He preferred a general sense of the Cause of Things .The 0rench <oologist ean"aptiste *amarck had already studied the subCect of heredity by the beginning of the nineteenth century. 3harles )arwin propounded the theories of !natural  selection! and !sexual selection! in &6D? and &6@& respectively. In the &6D9s $lfred 5ussell #allace investigated the part played by the environment on adaptation in the 7alapagos Islands. The  philosopher Herbert %pencer coined the term !survival of the fittest! in &6-E, the 7erman biologist $ugust #eismann concluded that the biological facts of growth and reproduction could be accommodated much more readily into evolutionary theory than simply being the result of acts of 3hristian 3reationism. Thomas Huxley in &6-' combined the disciplines of palaeontology, embryology and comparative anatomy to establish the anthropoid srcins of man. )arwin!s cousin 0rancis 7alton was an early proponent of what became eugenics, or %ocial )arwinism, as was the author 7rant $llen. In &6?@ the anthropological studies of Havelock Fllis resulted in his seven volume Studies in the Psychology of Sex . Fllis recorded such liminal masculinities as the  Bote , members of the Montana Indians of ;orth $merica, the  Mahoos  of Tahiti, and the Sekatra  of Madagascar, people who were !not man, not woman!. orn male they assumed feminine dress, speech and attitudes while still very young, the Sekatra  in particular actually being chosen from childhood on account of their !weak or delicate appearance! to be brought up as girls. In the field of psycho"sexuality ohann 3aspar wrote on pederasty as !moral hermaphroditism! in &6D+, Garl (lrichs investigated !(rnings! in &6-+, .$. %ymonds described !sexual inversion! in &66', and in &?&9 Magnus Hirschfeld discussed !transvestism!. The development of psychology expanded through ean"Martin 3harcot!s use of hypnotism to cure hysteria 1&6@62, Theodor Meynert!s work on brain anatomy and mental illness 1&66E2, $uguste 0orel!s studies of insanity, prison reform and social morality 1&6692, and oseph reuer lay the foundations of psychoanalysis with his !talking cure!. ut how was this vast amount of knowledge disseminated amongst the general reading public of the nineteenth century In periodicals, maga<ines and newspapers such as The Westminster eie"  and  Black"ood#s Edin$urgh Maga%ine ,  both of which Hardy read and wrote for, scientific issues were set side"by"side with fiction, poetry and literary criticism thus in the popular press literature and science became inextricably linked, with scientists quoting poets, and authors of fiction continuing to explore the implications of new scientific theories. The /iscount ohn Morley observed that by the &6@9s evolutionary discourse had !passed from the laboratory and study to the parlour! to be debated !by barbers, butlers, dockers, vapid women, and men on omnibuses with little or no knowledge of )arwin, %pencer or Huxley!. amela 7ossin notes that !Hardy!s multifarious reading in astronomy, cosmology, geology, evolutionary theory, antiquities, anthropology, mythology and the 3lassics! all reinforced for him !strong messages about the human condition!, which in turn informed his fiction. %u<anne Geen writes of Hardy!s deep engagement with the work of practising neurologists and psychologists, !conversing in person with physicians and scientists...participating in the literary articulation of contemporary brain science!. %he relates how in $ugust &?+?, eighteen months after Hardy!s death,  3larence :berndorf visited %igmund 0reud in echtesgaden=0reud invited his visitor into his study to see what he was reading. :berndorf reports, !on hisdesk lay open Tess of the d#&r$erilles !. #hen :bernforf showed surprise and pleasure at seeing one of his favourite novels, 0reud !smiled and said Jhe AHardyB knew  psychoanalysisK!. Hardy also knew the intricacies of nineteenth"century law, having become a ustice of the eace for the orough of )orchester in &66E, and for the 3ounty of )orset in &6?E. His first documented interest in the law occurred when in )ecember &6@@ he attended an inquest with the coroner )r *each at %tourton 3aundell. He was also fully conversant with the Mc;aughten 5ules of &6E' which established a defence on the grounds of insanity. Hardy utili<ed his knowledge of this $ct in his representation of #illiam oldwood in  'ar 'rom the Madding Cro"d   1&6@E2. $  psychologically unstable character introduced as one whose !equilibrium disturbed= he was in extremity at once!, his obsession with athsheba Fverdene becomes a monomania, leading him to murder his rival %argent Troy, and to try to kill himself. Hardy!s narrator points to !the unequivocal symptoms of mental derangement! that led to oldwood!s death sentence being commuted to life imprisonment upon reprieve. :ther examples of Hardy!s interdisciplinary knowledge acquirement include rendering 3lymLeobright as an :edipal character, Michael Henchard exhibiting symptoms of aggressive melancholia, and ude 0awley being presented as a Tantalus figure with an inferiority complex. Hardy claimed in &6-D to know .%. Mill!s (n )i$erty  !almost by heart!, and %ue ridehead is widely credited as being his contribution to the ;ew #oman discourse. However Hardy also introduces a ;ew Man in the fictional form of 5ichard hillotson. %ympathetic to the feminist movement, he is a benevolent and empathetic man who asserts !I don!t see why the woman and the children should not be a unit without the man! in response to accusations of domestic disintegration when he fully endorses %ue!s decision to leave him for ude. Theodor *ipps!s philosophy of  Einfühlung   is evident in Hardy!s portrayals of 7abriel :ak as !;ature!s midwife! and 7iles #interborne as !autumn!s very brother! and Hintock!s own fertility 7od. In The Trum*et+Ma,or  , for which Hardy!s research of the ;apoleonic #ars and the military of Ging 7eorge III resulted in a seventy page notebook, he exposes the weaknesses inherent in /ictorian prototype martial masculinities through the modality of the farcical Leoman 0estus )erriman. Hardy!s reading of anthropological treatises such as Havelock Fllis!s resulted in his creation of two androgynes and a female as the most u$er   $lpha"males of his entire fictional oeuvre= $eneas Manston, #illiam )are, and unconquerable, or should that be incorrigible, $rabella )onn. His engagement with the writings of sexologist 5ichard von Grafft"Fbing and the rather unpleasant polemicist Max ;ordau, author of the infamous  -egeneration  1&6?D2, can be seen in his delineations of Thomas *eaf and  3hristian 3antle, both of whom articulate an (nman masculinity. They also demonstrate an inclusiveness in direct opposition to 7rant $llen!s eugenicist reCection of all supposed aberrations within society as evinced in his  Physiological .esthetics  1&6@@2.These are only a handful of examples of Hardy!s utili<ation of interdisciplinarity. 0or a morecomprehensive picture we need to consult Michael Millgate!s catalogue of Hardy!s Max 7ate library, *ennart Crk!s research into Hardy!s reading which culminated in the  )iterary /ote$ooks  collation, #illiam 7reenslade!s Thomas Hardy#s #'acts# /ote$ook  , the #Poetical Matter# /ote$ook   edited by Millgate and amela )al<iel, who also edited   Hardy!s  Studies0 S*ecimens 1c2 /ote$ook  , Harold :rel!s collection  Hardy#s Personal Writings , The Personal /ote$ooks  edited by 5ichard H. Taylor 1of which The Trum*et+Ma,or   notebook is one2, and of course the authoritative Millgate  biography, the eight volumes of letters, and Hardy!s own auto8biography, contentiously published under the name of his second wife 0lorence. ut this paper should have amply demonstrated Hardy!s voracious appetite for learning, and his reputation as !a man who used to notice such things!.
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