Guide Women and Sexuality in the Novels of Thomas Hardy

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The woman herself, literally sublimated, is floating along with the music and pollen. This exaltation reaches total cosmic harmony, like the one produced by the spectacle of stars. Tess and the environment are united: her tears and the dampness of the garden are but one thing. Subversion is two-fold: it represents the forbidden that will not take place, the sexual union Angel will deny Tess, but it expresses again what was previously repressed, namely the rape performed by Alec.

Textual sublimation is then complete. Indeed, whether it is direct or indirect, censorship leaves discontinuities, ambiguities and even discrepancies in the final text. The narrative treatment of the rape is quite emblematic in this respect:.

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There was no answer. The obscurity was now so great that he could see absolutely nothing but a pale nebulousness at her feet, which represented the white muslin figure he had left upon the dead leaves. Everything else was blackness alike. He knelt and bent lower, till her breath warmed his face, and in a moment his cheek was in contact with hers. She was sleeping soundly, and upon her eyelashes there lingered tears. Darkness and silence ruled everywhere around.

Above them rose the primaeval yews and oaks of the Chase, in which were poised gentle roosting birds in their last nap; and about them stole the hopping rabbits and hares. Perhaps, like that other god of whom the ironical Tishbite spoke, he was talking, or he was pursuing, or he was in a journey, or he was sleeping and not to be awaked.

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In the version in book form, the episodes are restored but a gap remains nonetheless. Richard Kerridge points out that, in the final version of the novel, foreclosure occurs much closer to the decisive moment, when the narrator relinquishes his descriptive powers. Although most of the withdrawn episodes find their place again in the final version, censorship must have played a deciding role, contributing to leaving traces in the narrative itself.

In addition several passages were modified. Hardy carried out this unceremonious concession to conventionality with cynical amusement, knowing the novel was moral enough and to spare. But the work was sheer drudgery, the modified passages having to be written in coloured ink, that the originals might be easily restored, and he frequently asserted that it would have been almost easier for him to write a new story altogether.

Furthermore, these lines put the stress on an opposition between two forms of morality, that of a conventional society which the author must voice and that of a writer which he must hush to be published and read. Actually, the end of this extract shows there is no possible return to the original version. So, in its definitive version, in the one desired by the author, the novel keeps traces of censorship that can be noticed between the lines of a text transformed into a palimpsest. This is striking in the garden episode, which is analysed above.

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Towards the end of the novel, Tess seems dispossessed of her body. This is the case when Angel finds her again kept by Alec in Sandbourne:. But he had a vague consciousness of one thing, though it was not clear to him till later; that his original Tess had spiritually ceased to recognize the body before him as hers — allowing it to drift, like a corpse upon the current, in a direction dissociated from its living will.

Tess turns into pure spirit, pure voice and her body becomes invisible before her execution. On the one hand, not only did it produce a discourse resulting from the desire to represent the forbidden but also a form of writing enriched by the figures of circumvention. Quite unexpectedly, censorship lays bare representation itself, reveals the disguises, ambiguities and gaps of the text. The writer unwillingly unveils his own contradictions, his fantasy about two forms of purity: the illusion of a totally explicit, objective and transparent representation and the unconscious desire for a virgin text.

Why it was that upon this beautiful feminine tissue, sensitive as gossamer, and practically blank as snow as yet, there should have been traced such a coarse pattern as it was doomed to receive. But it is precisely in the elision of the forbidden that words are to be written. Writing is unthinkable without repression. The condition for writing is that there be neither a permanent contact nor an absolute break between strata: the vigilance and failure of censorship. It is no accident that the metaphor of censorship should come from the area of politics concerned with the deletions, blanks, and disguises of writing, even if, at the beginning of the Traumdeutung , Freud seems to make only a conventional, didactic reference to it.

The apparent exteriority of political censorship refers to an essential censorship which binds the writer to his own writing.

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Alvarez, ed. David Skilton, Harmondsworth: Penguin, Harold Orel, London: Macmillan, []. Harold Orel, London: Macmillan, [], References to this work will appear in the text in parentheses. She is a reference in matters of propriety. Her tutelary shadow kept haunting the following generations and she became the figure of censorship for Hardy and other writers. Foucault, op. Very interestingly, Neil Sammells points out that, for all the divergences between Foucault and psychoanalysis, there is some convergence on the creative role played by censorship. For psychoanalysis, censorship reveals real linguistic creativity; repression does not lead to silence but to figurative language.

Sammells eds. Hyland and N. Kerridge, op.