A Keynote Lecture for the Thomas Hardy Society Conference 2021

Professor Jane Thomas - Desperate Remedies: Hardy's Youthful Manifesto

A Keynote Lecture for the Thomas Hardy Society Conference 2021

Thursday 15th July at 9.15am

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"Bad with Verve, Bad with Passion, Bad...with Distinction"

The Spectator's review of Desperate Remedies in April 1871, less than a month after the novel's publication, was so savage that on reading it Hardy apparently 'wished he was dead'. For Lerner and Holmstrom in 1968 'nothing of importance in the book either anticipates the later novels, or suggests a writer of great genius' but Evelyn Hardy noted, as early as 1954, that Desperate Remedies 'has passages of great beauty and reveals certain distinctive traits which the writer was to develop, or which merely lie embedded like fossils in his mature work'. Contemporary critics including Mary Rimmer and Richard Nemesvari have afforded the novel the serious attention it deserves, and this year, as we celebrate the 150th anniversary of its publication, it seems a good time to assess the distinctiveness of this early and flawed novel. In its challenge to literary and patriarchal power, its creative manipulation of life and art, its telling juxtaposition of ancient myth and modern science, and its early recognition of the force of desire in all its froms Desperate Remedies demonstrates Hardy 'feeling his way to a method' that was uniquely his and which helped establish his reputation as one of the greatest English novelists.

Jane Thomas is Emeritus Professor of English at the University of Hull and a Senior Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Leeds. She has published widely on Hardy's life and work and was Academic Director of the Hardy Society Conference for over a decade. She is also a Vice President of the Thomas Hardy Society.

Tickets: For those who are not attending the conference in its entirety - £10 (£8 for THS Members)

Please book here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/desperate-remedies-hardys-youthful-manifesto-tickets-155778966081

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