Mostof dangerous beauty, suggesting that Hardy himself
Mostof Hardy’s work is set in a semi-fictional region called Wessex,half imagined, half real, because Hardy himself substitutes the actual namesfor places with alternative names from his own mind.
The name Wessexcomes fromthe Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Wessex that was fragmented following the invasion ofWilliam the Conqueror in 1066. In his imaginary Wessex, Hardy gives many realplaces alternative names as if it were a kind of parallel universe. This wasHardy’s devise, partly to make it enough clear that his work was not about realpeople and places. However, it was also a device to provide a world into whichhe could escape as a writer.In many respects, the literature of Thomas Hardy isquintessentially English in tone and content. His stories are set in thedeepest rural and pastoral southwest, where time attempts to stand still,preserving an English idyll that was worlds apart from the industrialization ofthe 19th century. For this reason, his novels are described asbelonging to the genre of “naturalism.” Hardy’s birthplace is filled with ancient sitesof human activity and prehistoric evidence of a past without humanity.
Hewanted to make it clear that we each have a window of opportunity in life tomake our mark. That is why he had little time for people whom he considered tobe famous or self -interested. He was acutely aware that it is the impressionthat we make on others and in their memories that counts the most, both duringlife and after death.
Hardy was a humanist. His own life was not so happy andHardy’s female characters have a dangerous beauty, suggesting that Hardyhimself was trapped in the women’s beguiling infatuation. Also his novelsraised contraventions while touching delicate themes, such as marriage, sex,education and religion. In the meantime, Hardy had already completedhis first manuscript of the novel The Poor Man and the Ladyby 1867, withno luck to be accepted by a publisher, supposedly considered politicallycontroversial, thus Hardy destroyed the manuscript. Nevertheless, Hardy’s ambitionsknew no bound and he had his first publication in 1871 with the novel DesperateRemedies, followed by Under the Greenwood Tree in 1872, anonymously.Although he wrote poetry all the time, at the beginning he became famous as a prose-writer.In 1873, he published his third novel, this time by his own name: A Pair ofBlue Eyes(1873) tells about his courtship to his first wife, Emma. In thenovel Far from the Madding Crowd(1874),he mentions for the first timeWessex, where the plots of his novels are set.
Together with The Hand of Ethelberta(1876),the first five novels by Hardywere well received and his confidence in pushingin his literary career grew steadily. His sixth novel The Return of theNative (1878) is widely regarded as the first modern novel, because itdared to examine themes that Victorian society pretended not to exist – namelysexual desire and obsession. Other famous novels by Hardy are:The Mayor ofthe Casterbridge(1886), where a man who gives away his wife and his only daughterwhen he is drunk and repents deeply the next day when he is sober, but in vain;Jude the Obscure(1895), which is the last completed novel by Hardy and speaksabout a young stonemason who dreams of becoming an educated man. Hardy considered himself primarily a poet. Hewrote poetry throughout his life and he was born with poetry in his blood, buthis first collection, Wessex Poems and Other Verses, a collection offifty-one poems, written during a 30- year period of time, was published onlyin 1898.
Hardy’s poetry is known for its varieties of forms including dramaticmonologues and colorful dialogue, ballads, satires and the most important,lyrics. He was inspired by ballads and folksongs, however not getting trappedin folklores, but being characterized as an unconventional, experimenting andinventing poet.He also published Poems of the Past and thePresent (1901) and Time’s Laughingstocks and Other Verses(1909).Following the death of his first wife, Emma, he published Poems of1912-13, which is part of the volume Satires of Circumstances 1914.Mourning his wife’s death, Hardy included there some of the best elegies inEnglish poetry. Other poetry books by Hardy are:Moments of Vision(1917), Collected Poems (1919), Late Lyrics and Earlier with MaryOther Verses (1922), Human Shows(1925), Winter Words in VariousMoods and Metres (1928).
Also Thomas Hardy wrote The Dynasts1904-08, an epic drama in three volumes. He published Tess of thed’Urbervilles in 1891 and it is considered his most famous and best novel,including the controversy it sparked when it reached the reader.