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Study of Thomas Hardy: D.H. Lawrence's 'Art Speech' in the light of Polanyi's personal knowledge

Wallace, Mary Elizabeth (1974) Study of Thomas Hardy: D.H. Lawrence's 'Art Speech' in the light of Polanyi's personal knowledge. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94715) (KAR id:94715)


D. H. Lawrence1s "Study of Thomas Hardy" has often been dismissed as a repetitive, idiosyncratic work, full of endless digressions and the cryptic terminology of Lawrence's metaphysic, a work which is not very much about Thomas Hardy at all and which is good evidence for the contention that Lawrence was "incapable of what we ordinarily call thinking" (T. S. Eliot). However, careful reading of the "Study" indicates that revaluation is in order, that the "Study" is an organic whole, that it has its own significant order of construction which succeeds not only in illumining the problems and the achievement of Hardy's work but in revising our it concept of what we ordinarily call thinking". To reveal the true organisation of the "Study", this dissertation follows the development of Lawrence*s thought from chapter to chapter. Lawrence's close reading of Hardy led him into several different areas of enquiry which were necessary to the understanding of important problems in Hardy’s fiction - 1. love, marriage and relationships; 2. the teachings of the Judeo-Christian biblical tradition and religious and philosophical problems of unity and duality; 3. the aims and methods of art, particularly as they shed light on the nature of perception; and finally 4» the theory of knowledge of empirical philosophy which affected Hardy. There are three separate discussions of Hardy in the "Study" and I try to show how each is different and how Lawrence penetrates more deeply into the roots of Hardy’s success and failure in each. Lawrence leaves direct discussion of Hardy’s novels only to further explore the above four areas and then return to Hardy with more force. In the course of the "Study" he sees more and more clearly the limiting effect of a false theory of knowledge on Hardy’s art, the ideal of scientific "objectivity", detachment and empiricism; and Lawrence challenges this epistemology and tries to discover a truer one. To help in understanding the value of the new theory of knowledge which Lawrence develops in the "Study", I have relied on the work of Michael Polanyi, a twentieth century scientist and philosopher whose Personal Knowledge; Towards a Post-Critical Philosophy has criticised the underlying assumptions and inconsistencies of empirical and positivist ideas on how scientists think and learn. To help in showing the limiting effect of these false theories of knowledge on modern writers and modern literary criticism, I have returned repeatedly to the work of Prank Kermode with particular attention to his response to Lawrence. Throughout, in following the development of the "Study of Thomas Hardy", I have tried to direct attention to 1. the range and the quality of the thought expressed; 2. the complex significance and force of the central images used and the way the meanings of words are extended and made more precise in the context of the "Study" and 3. the thoughts on the nature of perception and on a new theory of knowledge which organise the "Study". My central conclusions are 1. the "Study" belongs to Lawrence*s best work and thought; the theology, the art criticism and the literary criticism in its pages can stand on their own as work of high quality in their respective disciplines; 2. Lawrence's original use of language in the "Study" should be recognised as an unusual achievement, bringing the intellectual powers of "art-speech" into non-fiction prose; 3. the "Study" is an important early work challenging post-Descartes theories of knowledge and re-examining the roles of religion and art in our search for truth about the nature of reality.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Shapira, Morris
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94715
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 25 April 2022 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Uncontrolled keywords: D. H. Lawrence, Michael Polanyi
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of English
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 25 May 2023 14:06 UTC
Last Modified: 25 May 2023 14:06 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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