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Second SightThe Visionary Imagination in Late Victorian Literature$
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Catherine Maxwell

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780719071447

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: July 2012

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719071447.001.0001

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Thomas Hardy's poetry: ‘the intenser stare of the mind’

Thomas Hardy's poetry: ‘the intenser stare of the mind’

(p.197) 5 Thomas Hardy's poetry: ‘the intenser stare of the mind’
Second Sight

Catherine Maxwell

Manchester University Press

This chapter begins with an examination of Hardy's ‘spiritual or second sight’, his ‘power of the imagination in exalting’ visible objects so that they become uncanny, quasi-ghostly versions of themselves. It shows how his imaginative investment in ‘the other side’ and his profound interest in spectres, shades and shadows figuratively illustrate his pronouncements on art and literature, and that, for him, writing, particularly poetry, is a domain especially suited to ghosts and spirits, being a realm of refined essences. The final part of the chapter looks at forms of shadow portraiture in Hardy's poetry that bridge the relation between the phenomenal and the visionary, relates these forms of portraiture to the Romantic fragment and synecdoche and considers their relation to loss, especially the theme of the lost woman, where death acts as a stimulant to vision.

Keywords:   second sight, imagination, other side, poetry, ghosts, spirits, shadow portraiture

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