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Communities in Fiction$
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J. Hillis Miller

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780823263103

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823263103.001.0001

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Individual and Community in The Return of the Native

Individual and Community in The Return of the Native

(p.93) 3 Individual and Community in The Return of the Native
Communities in Fiction

J. Hillis Miller

Fordham University Press

The Return of the Native shows that Hardy personifies nature and sees people as expressions of that personification. At the same time he characteristically gives some verbal clue that this spiritualization of nature as the embodiment of some spooky “It” is no more than the reification of a figure of speech, the age-old error of taking a figure of speech literally. The comings and goings of the characters who rise up from the heath in The Return of the Native dramatize the heath’s “tragical possibilities.” The chief characters do not share the immemorial community assumptions of the farmers, turf-cutters, and farmwives who populate the heath. The main characters are all in one way or another detached from the heath community. The maps Hardy made and the photographs that illustrated The Return of the Native in the early collected editions of Hardy’s writings make the novel a multimedia work.

Keywords:   Thomas Hardy, Nature, Detachment, Multimedia, Personification

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