About the BookThomas Hardy still seems to speak to us, in fiction and in poetry, as ‘our contemporary’. This second edition of Peter Widdowson’s study identifies the elements in Hardy’s work which enable him to be read thus: the focus on unstable class and sexual relationships in a society undergoing rapid change; the highly-charged representations of women at the heart of this process; the self-reflexive artifice of the writing itself as an aspect of Hardy’s ‘satiric’ view of a ‘new Dark Age’. Professor Widdowson shows where this radical and destabilizing Hardy is to be located in the texts, while also seeking to recast our conventional conception of Hardy the Poet. For this new edition, the author has updated the bibliography and included a ‘Postscript’ on film and TV adaptations of Hardy’s fiction, since many newcomers to it now first experience his work in this medium. This lucid study offers a comprehensive guide to reading Hardy anew as a writer who challenges our assumptions about art and life.About the Author/sPeter Widdowson is Professor of Literature at the University of Gloucestershire. Amongst recent books are: Literature (1999); The Palgrave Guide to English Literature and Its Contexts, 1500-2000 (2004); A Reader’s Guide to Contemporary Literary Theory, 5th edtn. (2005); Graham Swift (2005); while his work on Hardy includes: Hardy in History: A Study in Literary Sociology (1989); (ed.) Tess of the d'Urbervilles: A New Casebook (1993); On Thomas Hardy: Late Essays and Earlier (1998); (ed.) Thomas Hardy: Selected Poetry and Non-Fictional Prose (1996); (ed. with Tim Dolin), Thomas Hardy and Contemporary Literary Studies (2004).