Thomas Hardy's novel 'The Well-Beloved' is here seen as the summa of Hardy’s poetics and as the aesthetic manifesto of his 'critical regionalism'. This salvage-operation safeguards the regional cultural memory from the Darwinian fossil-like 'dead branches' demise of those environments that an uncritical classical aesthetics and an aesthetics of 'the new' belittles or renders obsolete and outdated. The essay shows how Hardy's conception of time and history is based on a cycle logic rather than an arrow of time one, exactly as the one Darwin himself had adopted in his works.
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