Thomas Hardy and Animals examines the human and nonhuman animals who walk and crawl and fly across and around the pages of Hardy's novels. Animals abound in his writings, yet little scholarly attention has been paid to them so far. This book fills this gap in Hardy studies, bringing an important author within range of a new and developing area of critical inquiry. It considers the way Hardy's representations of animals challenged ideas of human-animal boundaries debated by the Victorian scientific and philosophical communities. In moments of encounter between humans and animals, Hardy questions boundaries based on ideas of moral sense or moral agency, language and reason, the possession of a face, and the capacity to suffer and perceive pain. Through an emphasis on embodied encounters, his writings call for an extension of empathy to others, human or nonhuman. In this accessible book Anna West offers a new approach to Hardy criticism.
Anna West is an early career researcher specializing in Victorian literature and animal studies. Since receiving her PhD from the University of St Andrews, where her research was funded by a Macpherson studentship, she has published articles on Thomas Hardy, Victorian science and literature, and Victorian farming practices in relation to ovine disease. She is a member of the Thomas Hardy Society, the British Association for Victorian Studies, the North American Victorian Studies Association, the Midwest Victorian Studies Association, and the French Association for Thomas Hardy Studies.