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Title: Social class and the tragic vision in Hardy's novels : an examination of Lucien Goldmann's genetic structuralism.
Author: Webb, I.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3564 9203
Awarding Body: University of Lancaster
Current Institution: Lancaster University
Date of Award: 1981
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There has been very little substantive empirical work in the field of the sociology of literature, and, with a few notable exceptions# much of the published work centres around theoretical issues. Lucien Goldmann was a theorist who rigorously attempted to apply his own theories about literary explanation to actual texts. The thesis I am presenting contains an evaluation of Goldmann's theoretical work and an assessment of his empirical research, particularly that relating to seventeenth century French literature. The fundamental hypothesis underlying this research is the idea that literary works are the expressions of a particular view of the world, or a world vision# belonging to the author# which can only be explained by reference to the social class of that author and the position of that class in the economic and social structure. In his work on the playwright Racine and the philosopher Pascal, Goldmann is specifically interested in the type of vision he refers to as the tragic vision, the genesis of which, he maintain~ is to be found in the ideological structure of a religious movement known as Jansenism, which itself is explicable·only by reference to the social class of members of the Jansenist group - i.e. the 'noblesse de robe',which during this period underwent a decline in economic1 political and social status. The thesis concentrates on the notion of the tragic vision being the expression of the world view of members of'a declining social classl and if Goldmann's theory is valid at alll it should be applicable to literary forms other than that of the classical drama. The novels of Thomas Hardy were selected to provide an empirical test of Goldman's genetic-structuralist method. Following Goldman's work on Racine an immanent analysis of the novels in chronological order is undertaken using Goldman's own criteria of tragedy but also referring to other traditional literary critical definitions and forms of tragedy. Having established the presence of a tragic vision in Hardy's novels and elicited the components of that vision the argument then proceeds to a consideration of Hardy's social class, of origin - i.e. the rural lower middle-class - and to the ideology of the members of that class and finally to its situation during the nineteenth century. Other factors such as Hardy's personal biography and his social mobility, and the conditions of literary production, are also examined to assess their significance as mediations between the social class of the author and the literary work itself
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Literature