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Les nouvelles de Thomas Hardy. Choix stratégiques d'une écriture sous contrainte

Abstract : Thomas Hardy wanted to be remembered as a poet. His reputation, however, was built on his novels. In light of this, his short stories, both different from, and similar to, his novels and his poetry stylistically, offer a unique perspective on his writing as a whole. Accordingly, the purpose of this thesis is to study the choices the author made as regards the narrator's posture and discourse. It ultimately aims at understanding how the short stories, long neglected and only quite recently brought into a new light by Kristin Brady's The Short Stories of Thomas Hardy. Tales of Past and Present (1982) and Martin Ray's A Textual History of Hardy's Short Stories (1997), fit into the complete body of Hardy's works. Analyses permitted by Gérard Genette's theory of narratology and the French enunciation theory reveal that an overall strategy governs all the choices pertaining to the narrator, and that any contradictory or ambivalent sign is just part and parcel of that general scheme: to tell a story while offering the reader a snapshot of what Hardy called « the relation of the sexes ». Given the requirements that fiction, and more particularly the novel, had to meet in Victorian times, such a plan appears doomed to fail, were it not for the elbow room enabled by the short story, then a nascent genre. In the course of the study, Hardy's short stories emerge as a middle ground between his novels and his poems in terms of the various narrative strategies they make it possible for the author to develop. By comparison, the novel is at that time far too coded as a genre to allow such liberties, and poetry is a completely free ground where Hardy can « express more fully [?] ideas and emotions which run counter to the inert crystallized opinion ».2 Eventually, the short stories appear an essential part of Hardy?s works, on equal terms with his novels and his poems. They shed bright light on the reason why Hardy decided to put an end to his career as a novelist whereas he went on writing short fiction until the turn of the century. They also make it clear in what sense only poetry could fit what he wanted to accomplish both as a storyteller and as an observer of the society of his time. Last but not least, the short stories offer a rare opportunity to look closer to the figure which lies behind what we call « the author-in-the-text ».
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Nathalie Bantz. Les nouvelles de Thomas Hardy. Choix stratégiques d'une écriture sous contrainte. Littératures. Université Nancy 2, 2009. Français. ⟨NNT : 2009NAN21005⟩. ⟨tel-01749145⟩

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