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Title: Architecture and Thomas Hardy
Author: Briggs, Alana Samantha
ISNI:       0000 0004 5922 2767
Awarding Body: University of Exeter
Current Institution: University of Exeter
Date of Award: 2015
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Thomas Hardy is the only major English novelist to have been a professional architect. In his essay, “Memories of Church Restoration,” written for the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (1906), it was clear that, for Hardy, architectural structures preserved the spirit of all those who had created and originally worked and lived within them. By their very presence, then, ancient and medieval buildings were historical artifacts housing the memories of past lives. This intertwining of humans and the built environment became the stuff of Hardy’s novels, short stories, poetry, and essays. Drawing on autobiographical material, including correspondence and notebooks, as well as novels and poetry, this thesis examines the various ways in which Hardy engages with ideas and debates about architecture taking place in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. While previous studies have examined the treatment of architecture in Hardy’s fiction, this thesis focuses on key figures in the architectural world and the complex role their ideas play in his work. Hardy explores a combination of ideas from leading architectural thinkers, at times offering an important synthesis to coexisting architectural ideas. I argue that Hardy saw architecture as recording centuries of memory, rooted in an instinctual life that connects humans with the natural world in an intimate way, evoking evolutionary time. In so doing he expanded the meaning of the “architectural” well beyond the confines of medievalist or classical ideas, or debates sparked by architects and critics such as A.W.N. Pugin and John Ruskin and architecture, in its broadest definition, acts as a metaphor for the way the past lives on in the present, undergoing continual processes of change; for destruction and decay; and for the way buildings undergo natural processes. The nexus of architectural ideas also allows Hardy to respond to questions of the role of art in relation to society and social communities.
Supervisor: Richardson, Angelique Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Thomas Hardy ; Architecture ; Gothic ; Restoration ; Preservation ; Ruskin ; Pugin ; Morris ; Evolution ; Animal