Phantoms and Fictional Persons: Hardy's Phenomenology of Loss

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Victorian Studies, ISSN: 0042-5222, Vol: 59, Issue: 3, Page: 399-408

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Elaine Auyoung
Indiana University Press
Social Sciences; Arts and Humanities
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The end of a narrative, which has long been recognized as a problem for literary structure, poses a problem for readers as well. In the absence of conventional methods for examining this dimension of literary experience, this essay approaches Thomas Hardy’s late lyrics as a gloss on the aesthetic and affective consequences of coming to the end of a novel. Hardy’s intricate accounts of directing one-sided attention toward insensible objects of desire, I argue, attune us to the pathos of thinking about fictional persons that continue to dwell in our minds but exist nowhere in the actual world.