Some critics dismiss Thomas Hardy as a regional novelist who confined his attention to the area of southeast England he called Wessex. Critic Lionel Johnson has countered that Hardy “laughs at Wessex, he is unsparing of Wessex, he delights in Wessex; with all the world round him and all history behind him, he is content to find 'infinite riches in a little room.’” By reading three novels from the early part of Hardy’s career, we will explore the little room and the universal truths within. Required text: Far from the Madding Crowd (Penguin Classics), ISBN-13: 978-0141439655; The Return of the Native (Penguin Classics), ISBN-13: 978-0140435184; The Mayor of Casterbridge: The Life and Death of a Man of Character (Norton Critical Edition), ISBN-13: 978-0393974980. Participants may use any edition of these texts, but references, assignments, and class readings will come from these editions. We will read the novels in the order listed.
Instructor: Catherine Frank (firstname.lastname@example.org) holds degrees in English from UNC Chapel Hill and is the director for OLLI at UNC Asheville.