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Title:Force and Counterforce: The Rural-Urban Encounter in The Novels of Thomas Hardy and Premcand
Author(s):Hock, Zarina Manawwar
Department / Program:Comparative and World Literature
Discipline:Comparative and World Literature
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Literature, Comparative
Abstract:The purpose of this study is to analyze the literary response of Thomas Hardy (1840-1928) and Premcand (1880-1936) toward one of the major occurrences of their times--the upheaval of rural society through an encounter with urban-industrial forces. Considering the wide gulf in culture, geography, and history between imperial Victorian England in the late nineteenth century, and colonial Victorian India in the early twentieth, it is significant to the student of comparative literature that Hardy and Premcand share such a strikingly similar attitude. The comparison places an important modern phenomenon into a broad trans-cultural context, and the shared reaction of Hardy and Premcand becomes another manifest link between East and West. In a still broader context, this thematic similarity can be viewed in the light of "literary analogy." To see affinity between the two novelists is to recognize, ultimately, the universality of artistic experience.
The dissertation is divided into five chapters. The introductory chapter (One) provides a rationale for the comparison, a review of the relevant literature, and a general background for the two novelists. It also evaluates Hardy and Premcand in light of their respective traditions: cultural, political, and literary.
Chapters Two, Three, and Four are concerned with textual analysis to show how the interplay of the real and ideal vision of each novelist expresses and resolves itself. Chapter Two deals with the rural community, and is divided into two major sections: the ideal and the real. The ideal rural community appears in its most complete form in an early novel of each writer--Far from the Madding Crowd and Premasram, where one can abstract certain common qualities which go to make up that ideal. In the later novels, Hardy and Premcand become increasingly realistic in their treatment of rural life. The real rural world, therefore, emerges as a mosaic of positive and negative qualities in several novels which are treated specifically.
Chapter Three is concerned with the city as "counterforce," and is again divided into two major sections: the negative ideal, and the real. Both Hardy and Premcand possess a "negative ideal" of the city "out there" which functions as an antagonist, and this negative stereotype is largely conveyed in exaggerated outlines, with emphasis on visual images. Realistically, however, the city penetrates the country through both processes and people, and as such is endowed with positive and negative attributes. Again, specific novels are used to provide evidence for the thesis.
Chapter Four discusses characterization. The interplay of ideal and real, running through all of Hardy and Premcand's works, ultimately finds fullest expression in the characterization of the later novels. For both novelists, a similar pattern emerges: a movement from triumph in the early novels to defeat in the later ones. In characterization, more than anywhere, the ambivalence that informs the vision of both novelists generates an intricate paradox even as their word becomes flesh in Tess, Jude, Hor(')i, and Dhaniya. The failure of the rural community (unlike the early victories) brings into focus the humanness, the beauty, and the suffering of these characters, linking their defeat significantly and inextricably to the artistic achievement of their creators.
Chapter Five draws together the conclusions, re-emphasizes the thesis, re-clarifies the approach, and relates the latter to the general framework of comparative literature.
Issue Date:1980
Description:223 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1980.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8108540
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-14
Date Deposited:1980

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