That we are vouchsafed visions of Midsummer’s Day, such as the one on which the bell-ringing occurs at the close of Desperate Remedies — Under the Greenwood Tree and The Return of the Native also close on the same day — is indication of Hardy’s insistence that the world is comprehended as moving to at least two times within the same time: Christian, calendrical and progressive, linear temporality and at the same time, within and yet other than the time of the modern, a cyclical pagan calendar. A generation may pass but given moments in time return, the same and yet not the same. In this, there is the idea that a previous generation is not departed entirely, but leaves its traces in subsequent generations, such remains being the spectral signature of the past in the present. Thus there will be read in Hardy an irreducible tension between the spectral and material, which tension is often put to work in Hardy through, on the one hand, aural and auratic experience, perceptions of the pagan, and so on, and the heightened or intensified visual experience that Hardy inscribes through the emphasis on line, shape, and colour field. In this, Wessex becomes the imaginary site which bears the burden of all history and memory, in a dialectic challenge to modernity understood as urbanism, as the presencing of the present, in the face of the increasingly absent — because forgotten — ‘organic’ home of the rural.
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