By Rosemary Sumner (auth.)
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Additional info for Thomas Hardy: Psychological Novelist
The emotions which a young girl of no kind of distinction arouses in us can enable us to bring to the surface of our own consciousness some of the most intimate parts of our being". 64 This is an expansion of Hardy's "subjective phenomenon" (which Pierston "never much considered") 65 an expansion because Proust's narrator is more aware of the subjectivity, which is analysed minutely, whereas Pierston is merely capable of fearing and suffering, with only a superficial grasp of what is happening to him.
9 Thus, while most of the time seeing the well-beloved "in Platonic phraseology- the essence and epitome of all that is desirable in this existence", 10 he is also aware that she can embody less lofty aspirations, even represent evil itself. These perceptions are presented as dim and transient; Pierston is too preoccupied with each passing embodiment of the ideal to analyse himself or his situation with any real penetration. Hardy stresses Pierston's inability to control his reactions; he has a perpetual feeling of helplessness, since the "Phantom" might at any time "seduce him before he was aware" 11 or he might have to "sit and behold the mournful departure of the well-beloved from the form he had lately cherished".
It is significant that one of the major novelists of the twentieth century, whose importance derives partly from the way he combines innovation in the novel form with a profound exploration of the way the mind works, should feel he had much in common with Hardy and that Hardy should recognise and acknowledge the resemblance. Proust became aware of the similarities between The Well-Beloved and his conception of his own work at an early stage in its development. About December 1909, he wrote to Robert de Billy: "I have just been reading something very beautiful which unfortunately slightly resembles what I am doing (only it is a thousand times better).
Thomas Hardy: Psychological Novelist by Rosemary Sumner (auth.)