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Hardy's Literary Language and Victorian Philology is the first detailed exploration of Hardy's linguistic 'awkwardness', a subject that has long puzzled critics. Dennis Taylor's pioneering study shows that Hardy's language must be understood as a distinctive response to the philological and literary issues of his time. Deeply influenced by the Victorian historical study of language, Hardy deliberately incorporated into his own writing a sense of language's recent and hidden history, its multiple stages and classes, and its arbitrary motivations. Indeed, Taylor argues, Hardy provides an example of how a writer 'purifies the dialect of the tribe' by inclusiveness, by heterogeniety, and by a sense of history which distinguishes Hardy from a more ahistorical, synchronic modernist aesthetic and which constitutes an ongoing challenge to literary language. In what is the first major treatment of a writer's relation to the Oxford English Dictionary, the author also examines the influence on Hardy's language of the founding and development in this period of the OED.