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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Continental Perspective

Her interests had grandly developed from the limits of Overcombe and the town life hard by, to an extensiveness truly European. During the whole month of October, however, not a single grain of information reached her, or anybody else, concerning Nelson and his blockading squadron off Cadiz. There were the customary bad jokes about Buonaparte, especially when it was found that the whole French army had turned its back upon Boulogne and set out for the Rhine. Then came accounts of his march through Germany and into Austria; but not a word about the Victory.  (Chapter 35)

Bob boards the ship Victory and heads to battle.  Anne and John watch the ship as it passes a nearby seaport.  Anne reads the newspaper every day to get accounts of the Franco-English encounter but no news is available during the entire month of October.  Everyone begins to suspect the worse, having received information about the movements of the French army but none about the English navy.

The Napoleonic invasion has had an interesting affect on the English countryside which Hardy illustrates through Anne, whose interests have become "truly European."  Throughout its history, English enjoyed its independence from the rest of Europe by its being an island and nearly insusceptible to invasion.  Particularly in the English countryside, residents are self-sustaining, raising their own foods and not dependent on foreign markets for their livelihood.  Nevertheless, Napoleon managed to unite Europe as a common enemy.  Obviously, Anne's European perspective is limited and temporary but it is a perspective that ultimately leads to Napoleon's downfall.

*Picture above is the HMS Victory, permanently docked at Portsmouth.

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