This observation is taking from the philosopher Pascal's Pensees, published after his death in 1670.
Modernism describes the change in thought and modes of expression that took place towards the end of the nineteenth century and into the twentieth century. Confidence in an all-powerful Creator God was breaking down, and as people saw their traditional ways of life being eroded by industrial innovation they turned away from many of the ideas and assumptions that had underpinned previous generations. Literature, music, art and architecture all reflected this shift. Indeed, Hardy himself is sometimes credited with having written the first modern novel, Jude the Obscure.
This is another reference to John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress.
The Valley of Humiliation is a further challenge that Christian must face in his journey towards eternal life.
The quotation is taken from the Book of Job (7:15). God tests Job's faith to the limit by destroying his family and possessions, and causing him extreme physical suffering.
Peter the Great was Russia's Tsar in the late 17th and early 18th century. He did much to expand Russia's power in the world.
He spent time studying shipbuilding in Zaandam, Holland, and drew on the experience to build a strong Russian naval fleet.
Abraham had a divine vision that he would be the father of nations, with descendants more numerous than the stars in the sky. This prophecy was doubly extraordinary because he and his wife were childless until old age, when Sarah miraculously gave birth to Isaac.
The Queen of Sheba features in many ancient texts, including the Qu'ran and Ethiopian manuscripts. In the biblical account, the Queen comes to test King Solomon, having heard talk of his wisdom.
Some scholars think that the love song in the Song of Songs is between Solomon and the Queen of Sheba.
Mary Magdalen was a prostitute and social outcast, so Tess has a bit more in common with her than Angel realises.
Artemis was the ancient Greek goddess of hunting, virginity, childbirth, wildness and young girls.
Demeter was the goddess of the harvest and a protector of the sanctity of marriage.
Both goddesses were frequently depicted in Greek and Roman art, and were famed for their beauty.
Wide-O features in another of Hardy's novels, The Mayor of Casterbridge. A marginal but vital character, he plays a part in the downfall of Michael Henchard when he predicts that the harvest will be bad. Henchard believes him and buys grain in bulk, anticipating that he will be able to make a lot of money selling it when the crops fail. But the signs appear to contradict Wide-O's predictions and, losing his nerve, Henchard sells the grain at a much lower price than he bought it for, making a huge loss. Just as his rival buys up Henchard's last stocks, the weather turns bad and the harvest fails after all.
Marian is talking about a section of the Book of Common Prayer, the guiding text used in many Church of England services.
In this section, the minister reads out a series of prayers using the formulation, "That it may please Thee"; the congregation responds, "We beseech Thee to hear us, good Lord".
The phrase "sermons in stones" comes from Shakespeare's play, As You Like It. In this scene, the exiled Duke is talking about the good that he sees in the natural world where he must now live, away from the rituals of the court.
And this our life exempt from public haunt
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones and good in every thing.
I would not change it.
Act II, Scene 1
In fact, Izz's scripture was by no means the only scandalous thing about this scene for Victorian readers. So shocking was the idea of physical contact between unmarried men and women that when the book first appeared in serial form in The Graphic, Hardy was forced to rewrite the scene so that Angel Clare transports the girls in a wheelbarrow rather than carrying them. Not nearly so romantic.