Ancient, Beauty, Jude the Obscure, Literature, Modernism, Thomas Hardy, Time, Ugliness
It was as old-fashioned as it was small, and it rested in the lap of an undulating upland adjoining the North Wessex downs. Old as it was, however, the well-shaft was probably the only relic of the local history that remained absolutely unchanged. Many of the thatched and dormered dwelling-houses had been pulled down of late years, and many trees felled on the green. Above all, the original church, hump-backed, wood-turreted, and quaintly hipped, had been taken down, and either cracked up into heaps of road-metal in the lane, or utilized as pig-sty walls, garden seats, guard-stones to fences, and rockeries in the flower-beds of the neighbourhood. In place of it a tall new building of modern Gothic design, unfamiliar to English eyes, had been erected on a new piece of ground by a certain obliterator of historic records who had run down from London and back in a day. The site whereon so long had stood the ancient temple to the Christian divinities was not even recorded on the green and level grass-plot that had immemorially been the churchyard, the obliterated graves being commemorated by eighteen-penny cast iron crosses warranted to last five years.
We live in a time and place in which progress and new overwhelm our desire. We cannot be relish the new. However, such is not the only way to understand time. Consider the above-passage from Thomas Hardy’s Jude the Obscure. The description moves from quaint, to bitter irony, to plain mockery. Try to work out the levels of irony in this paragraph.
The sense of the “modern” is quite similar to the modernization depicted in Lewis’ That Hideous Strength. It is interesting that on the front side of this phase of modernization, the best saw the ugliness and brutality in triumph; but how little can we see it now that we have grown accustomed.