This article reads Thomas Hardy's 1891 novel Tess of the d'Urbervilles as one instance of the way literary engagements with the peasant question in late nineteenth-century Europe at once shed light onto the lived experiences of rural populations and elaborated the theoretical preoccupations pertaining to peasants' status in their contemporary society. It makes a case for Hardy's lucid awareness of the continuing nature of primitive accumulation in England and demonstrates that the text aptly explores its effects on various rural social classes. To do so, the article closely examines the chronopolitics that underpin the troubled encounter between Tess and Angel to argue that their divergent temporal orders both enable and preclude an alliance between the two worlds they stem from. Ultimately, the article investigates the dynamic between modernity and peasanthood to argue for their metonymic, as opposed to antonymic, relationship.

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