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  • Aye!

    11 84.62%
  • Nay!

    1 7.69%
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    1 7.69%
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Thread: Thomas Hardy: Aye or Nay?

  1. #1
    Pièce de Résistance Scheherazade's Avatar
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    Thomas Hardy: Aye or Nay?

    Let's discuss.
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    "It is not that I am mad; it is only that my head is different from yours.”
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  2. #2
    In the fog Charles Darnay's Avatar
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    I admittedly cannot contribute to much to this discussion because I am not too well versed in Hardy, mainly I have not read Tess. A few years ago I read The Mayor of Casterbridge and while it didn't leave a lasting impression on me, I enjoyed it. The plot moves quickly, and the characters are...well very Victorian.
    I wrote a poem on a leaf and it blew away...

  3. #3
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    I'm a big fan of Hardy's later works, in particular Jude the Obscure and Tess of the D'urbervilles, particularly Jude which I think is a fine tragedy. I thought Mayor of Casterbridge was OK, good in places. I have read most of the rest, apart from Under the Greenwood Tree (though I have it) and Wessex Tales, all of which struck me as quite weaker than Tess and Jude.

    Scheherazade:
    Fate and destinity are fine ways of not taking responsibility for our own actions. How many times did I shout while reading Tess, "Oh, come on, girl!" She made her choices throughout the book.
    I don't know about this. I don't think she has many choices being a women in mid Victorian society and a poor one at that. I think if you are looking to Tess as a modern feminist role model you are going to probably be dissatisfied!

    There has also been some good film adaptations, see below. The latest Tess and the Jude I thought particularly good. Anybody seen any of those?


    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1186342/
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0080009/
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0116722/
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0283474/

    Oscar Wilde (1854-1900).

    I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best.
    Democracy means simply the bludgeoning of the people by the people for the people.

    Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess.

  4. #4
    Registered User Veho's Avatar
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    I'm a fan of Thomas Hardy. Tess is one of my favourites but it's been a while since I read it. I don't remember ever thinking that everything that happened to her was her own choice but I can understand that others might think it. I think what Neely said is very true; that Tess is definitely not a feminist role model as she allows herself to be controlled and manipulated by the men in her life and doesn't make any attempt to improve things for herself. I think she does this out of a naïveté and innocence though not due to simple weakness. She does have a certain amount of pride which doesn't allow her to ask Angel for help even at her most desperate times and ultimately I think it is her love for Angel and abhorrence of Alec which is her downfall.

    I've also read Jude the Obscure and Far From the Madding Crowd both of which I enjoyed very much but not as much as Tess.

    Neely, I've watched the first Tess link, the BBC 2008 series. It's very good and Gemma Arterton does a good job portraying Tess but I'm not so sure about the fellow who plays Angel. I've not seen any of the others. Have you watched this one:

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0126100
    "...You are not wrong, who deem
    That my days have been a dream;
    Yet if hope has flown away
    In a night, or in a day,
    In a vision, or in none,
    Is it therefore the less gone?..." E. A. Poe

  5. #5
    Pièce de Résistance Scheherazade's Avatar
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    I think what Neely said is very true; that Tess is definitely not a feminist role model as she allows herself to be controlled and manipulated by the men in her life and doesn't make any attempt to improve things for herself. I think she does this out of a naïveté and innocence though not due to simple weakness. She does have a certain amount of pride which doesn't allow her to ask Angel for help even at her most desperate times and ultimately I think it is her love for Angel and abhorrence of Alec which is her downfall.
    So, we can say that she makes her choices in this way.

    I have never considered her as a feminist role model and this is not my point at all.
    I've also read Jude the Obscure and Far From the Madding Crowd both of which I enjoyed very much but not as much as Tess.
    Madding Crowd is my favourite Hardy - if I have to pick one.
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    "It is not that I am mad; it is only that my head is different from yours.”
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  6. #6
    Registered User Veho's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scheherazade View Post
    So, we can say that she makes her choices in this way.
    Yeah, I guess so because she does choose whatever it is she chooses to do. There are some things which are thrust upon her also though, but ultimately she is her own downfall. I think it depends upon the reader's sympathies - when I read it, I see Tess as a pure almost other-worldly being who is rather pitiable, tossed around by circumstances and fate.

    Far From... was my second favourite. It's somewhat different to the unrelenting sadness of Tess and Jude. I plan on reading Under the Greenwood Tree or The Woodlanders next which I think are almost cheerful too.
    "...You are not wrong, who deem
    That my days have been a dream;
    Yet if hope has flown away
    In a night, or in a day,
    In a vision, or in none,
    Is it therefore the less gone?..." E. A. Poe

  7. #7
    Snowqueen Snowqueen's Avatar
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    I haven’t read much of Hardy’s works, just few novels and I have enjoyed reading them. There might be flaws in them but I think his novels are very interesting and should be considered as masterpieces especially Tess of the D'urbervilles and Mayor of Casterbridge .

  8. #8
    Registered User kiki1982's Avatar
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    I have read four: Tess, Far from the Madding Crowd, Jude the Obscure and The Mayor of Casterbridge. The first three were up to standard, although I was a bit inexplicably disappointed by Jude, but The Mayor left me dissatisfied. Maybe I had geared up for it too much because of all the talk of wife selling and things, but it did not leave me with a story and piece of writing that I found was well thought of and turned around many times before it was published. The story was good but it lacked some stuffing. Shame... Upon consideration I would compare it to Saving Private Ryan: great opening sequence and then flat on its face because of its great opening. After that, people are expecting somehting as brilliant. But the remainder fades away because of its brilliant beginning.

    I don't know about Tess... You could say she's a kind of sad figure, but she does not give up on anything and moves on with her life as best she can. I think that is quite reminiscent of Jane Eyre (yup, there it is again): they are both strong women. You can't use Tess as an example of feminism, but branding her a weak and sad creature, as feminists have done, or even branding her creator a 'masochist' is a bit rich. She is driven to murder by Alec himself, which is quite sad, because 'the victim' in this case was the persecutor and vice versa, which the justice system, of course, does not account for. And that is still a major problem nowadays.
    On a direct level, there would not be many people in general, be they men or women, who could get on with life in the face of all that Tess faced.
    One has to laugh before being happy, because otherwise one risks to die before having laughed.

    "Je crains [...] que l'âme ne se vide à ces passe-temps vains, et que le fin du fin ne soit la fin des fins." (Edmond Rostand, Cyrano de Bergerac, Acte III, Scène VII)

  9. #9
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    There are a few other earlier Hardy's I have not read after seeing the e texts above, maybe some are short story collections as well, regardless I think Hardy works best in tragedy from what I have read.

    I agree with Kiki about how The Mayor of Casterbridge leveled out after a dramatic opening.

    I've not seen any of the others. Have you watched this one:

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0126100
    Well I would recommend the Jude. No, I haven't seen that version thanks for the link, it has a good rating in IMDB though and they are usually accurate. I will watch that.
    I have never considered her as a feminist role model and this is not my point at all.
    No I know you never said that, I'm not saying you did, but I thought you could have been viewing Tess through 21st century eyes, potentially. Tess is a natural victim because pretty much most Victorian women are. This is probably why the likes of Jane Eyre stand out so much. I see Tess as a natural victim of cruel fate.

    In terms of Jude, which for me is Hardy's best or at least my favourite (or both?) I feel so much for Jude because he is always one of life's outside characters. Despite his hard work and ambition he can never be a scholar because of the disadvantages of birth. The image of him looking in through the church window is sticks vividly in my mind. Though I am wondering if I imagined this scene or not? Either way, it doesn't matter, the fact that I have it is testament to Hardy regardless, that is the image I have of poor Jude; a figure always on the outside. Brilliant book.

    Oscar Wilde (1854-1900).

    I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best.
    Democracy means simply the bludgeoning of the people by the people for the people.

    Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess.

  10. #10
    Registered User Darcy88's Avatar
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    I LOVE his poetry and that's all I've read of him. Actually I read a bit of Return of the Native and the prose awed me.

    NEUTRAL TONES

    by: Thomas Hardy (1840-1928)

    We stood by a pond that winter day,
    And the sun was white, as though chidden of God,
    And a few leaves lay on the starving sod,
    --They had fallen from an ash, and were gray.

    Your eyes on me were as eyes that rove
    Over tedious riddles solved years ago;
    And some words played between us to and fro--
    On which lost the more by our love.

    The smile on your mouth was the deadest thing
    Alive enough to have strength to die;
    And a grin of bitterness swept thereby
    Like an ominous bird a-wing….

    Since then, keen lessons that love deceives,
    And wrings with wrong, have shaped to me
    Your face, and the God-curst sun, and a tree,
    And a pond edged with grayish leaves.
    Last edited by Darcy88; 03-14-2012 at 01:20 PM.

  11. #11
    Registered User Veho's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neely View Post
    Well I would recommend the Jude.

    In terms of Jude, which for me is Hardy's best or at least my favourite (or both?) I feel so much for Jude because he is always one of life's outside characters. Despite his hard work and ambition he can never be a scholar because of the disadvantages of birth. The image of him looking in through the church window is sticks vividly in my mind. Though I am wondering if I imagined this scene or not? Either way, it doesn't matter, the fact that I have it is testament to Hardy regardless, that is the image I have of poor Jude; a figure always on the outside. Brilliant book.
    I'll definitely check out the Jude film. I can imagine it being even more of a strain on the emotions than the novel. I remember feeling the injustice of Jude's situation - out of the three I've read Jude is definitely the one I want to re-read as it has so much that I'm sure I missed on the first reading.
    "...You are not wrong, who deem
    That my days have been a dream;
    Yet if hope has flown away
    In a night, or in a day,
    In a vision, or in none,
    Is it therefore the less gone?..." E. A. Poe

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Veho View Post
    I'll definitely check out the Jude film. I can imagine it being even more of a strain on the emotions than the novel. I remember feeling the injustice of Jude's situation - out of the three I've read Jude is definitely the one I want to re-read as it has so much that I'm sure I missed on the first reading.
    Yes I've read it twice and would read it again. Yes it is a good film version. Christopher Eccleston plays a good Jude. There is also a strange geek scene moment when Eccleston meets David Tennant (who plays a show off scholar) in a pub - two future Doctor Whos together in one place.

    Darcy makes a good point about his poetry. It is held in equally high regard to his better books and I have not read many of them. Hardy abandoned prose and turned to poetry due to the negative criticisms of Tess and Jude in terms of morality. I don't know the full extent of the criticisms, but you know what Victorian moralists were like. His weaker A Pair of Blue Eyes was also criticised on such grounds for a particular scene in the book.

    Edit: oh yes it turns out I have seen that version Veho, it is a good one as well.
    Last edited by Neely; 03-14-2012 at 06:14 PM.

    Oscar Wilde (1854-1900).

    I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best.
    Democracy means simply the bludgeoning of the people by the people for the people.

    Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess.

  13. #13
    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    Well I'll say aye. I am not entirely sure about him, but I like his descriptions of everyday working life. He describes it so well you know it must have been like that. I think his characterizations are so good too. They seem like real people and they stay in character.

  14. #14
    Registered User kelby_lake's Avatar
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    Far From The Madding Crowd and Tess are my joint favourites

  15. #15
    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    I think I may change my mind about Hardy.

    First I hated what he did to Tess and made her do.

    Second I disliked the implication that Tess's destiny was determined from the outset by a dispassionate, non-interventionist God on the one hand, or foisted on her by a callous deity on the other. There was one callous deity in that book and that was Hardy. And for someone who's lost his faith, he uses an awful a biblical refences and superstition.

    Third, he attended at least two public hangings as a youth and seemed to have regarded it as entertainment (although it may be unfair to blame him for that on account of his young age and social values of the time).

    Fourth, he was a bit of a lech. Again, I don't blame him for that, but it does make all that spiritual hand-wringing a bit unseemly.

    Fifth, I think he was too clever by half. He may have been writing about simple, working class folk, but he was writing for the educated elite. He doesn't seem to care whether those readers who hadn't had a classical education understood all the obscure words and references he alludes to.

    Sixth, I am not sure he was as well read as he thinks he is. He's read Schopenhauer, Huxley and presumably Darwin, but he hasn't read Jevons (a 19th century economist). I think his reading was selective, reflecting his opinions.

    Seventh, I am not sure about this, but I think he may have slightly romanticised rural life. He seemed to deplore the changes that were occurring in the countryside. He seemed to think that increased mechanisation and tearing up of old rural codes and practices was leading to greater exploitation of the rural poor and damaged the fabric of the countryside. No doubt all this upheaval was traumatic, but there never was a time when peasants lived in bucolic harmony. Wages were better in the towns and the work was not so hard.

    Anyway, I've bought a copy of The Woodlanders, which is not so miserable I understand. I will make up my mind when I've finished that.

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