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Faciality and Sensation in Hardy's "The Return of the Native"
William A. Cohen
Vol. 121, No. 2 (Mar., 2006), pp. 437-452
Published by: Modern Language Association
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25486324
Page Count: 16
You can always find the topics here!Topics: Face, Landscapes, Somatosensory perception, Visual perception, Sensory perception, Literary criticism, Eyes, Auditory perception, Victorians, Materialism
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In Thomas Hardy's fiction, the human body is the untranscendible foundation of putatively ethereal interior entities such as mind and self. The emerging sciences of physiological psychology and evolutionary biology, with which Hardy was familiar, provide a context in which to understand his bodily materialism. Hardy explores these interests in "The Return of the Native" through a striking emphasis on the faces of characters and landscape and particularly on sensory perceptions-primarily associated with organs located in the face-as means of bringing the world into the human interior and of dissolving distinctions between subjects and objects. Reading Hardy's materialism with the tools provided by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari's concept of faciality elucidates both the fiction and the theoretical model, for the writers share an idea of depsychologized character. For Hardy, as for Deleuze and Guattari, experience of the self and the world is fundamentally corporeal, and perceptual experience makes landscape inextricably contiguous with the human.
PMLA © 2006 Modern Language Association