Love and Thomas Hardy

Thomas Hardy of course is the great Victorian novelist, short story writer and lately appreciated poet. Many of his works deal with men and women and their love affairs. If you have never checked him out, I urge you to do so. He is well worth it. He was admired by writers like D. H. Lawrence (who wrote a book about it), the great John Cowper Powys, W.Somerset Maugham, and the great misanthropic poet Philip Larkin. He was a follower of the Naturalist School made famous by Emile Zola.

The Naturalists were a follow-on to the Realists such as Gustave Flaubert (proto-realist) and Anthony Trollope (classic realist). It was supposed to be an improvement upon realism, but I am not sure how. Both of these were reactions against the overly florid, unrealistic and overwrought stories of the time. Zola in particular sought to be almost scientific in his descriptions of the people in his books. Both sought to simply portray characters, humans and scenes as they actually are and let readers draw their own didactic or moralistic conclusions if they so wished.

As far as Hardy himself in love, he was famously married a couple of times. He was described as an unhappy husband. When his second wife died in 1912 after they were estranged for over 20 years, nevertheless, Hardy become a distraught widower and produced some of his finest poetry in Satires of Circumstance published two years later. These are considered to be some of the saddest, most powerful and finest poems about death ever written in English.

And so we have Thomas Hardy:

  • Unhappy husband, and then
  • Distraught widower

He was miserable while he was married to her, but he was even more miserable when she was dead. There is a lesson in here somewhere, maybe:

  • The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, or simply
  • People are never happy

I prefer the latter.

5 Comments

Filed under Literature, Novel, Poetry, Psychology, Romantic Relationships

5 responses to “Love and Thomas Hardy

  1. Emily Becke

    Do you know the poem?
    Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone

    W. H. Auden

    Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
    Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
    Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
    Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

    Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
    Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
    Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
    Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

    He was my North, my South, my East and West,
    My working week and my Sunday rest,
    My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
    I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.

    The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
    Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
    Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
    For nothing now can ever come to any good.

  2. Xanadan

    The Darkling Thrush by Thomas Hardy is one of my favourite poems.

    • Emily Becke

      If the darkling thrush is in your opinion one of the best poems hardy wrote why dont you acknowledge that the poem only came about because of the loss and death of his wife? there was obviously purpose in his pain if it brought about his most famous work

      “People are never happy”.

      Maybe we aren’t supposed to be in this lifetime.

  3. Xanadan

    Why acknowledge anything, why not just say you enjoy the poem?

    If you enjoy Wagner’s work, do you have to acknowledge it was a favourite of the Nazi’s – does that diminish or elevate the work as an artisitic endeavour?

    I appreciate Mozart, but it all sounds light and flimsy to me – like the froth from the rapids on a stream. I appreciate a well-creafted pop song, but something darker and heavier tends to speaks to my soul.

    Really however I feel the Darkling Thrush is a poem of hope, but I would guess that is my optimistic side – I go with the Thrush, not the protagonist – so although he is depressed he recognises that not everyone/thing is and that their hope may be justified even though he cannot see it.

    • Emily Becke

      Sometimes it makes me sad, though… Aaron being gone. I have to remind myself that some birds aren’t meant to be caged. Their feathers are just too bright. And when they fly away, the part of you that knows it was a sin to lock them up DOES rejoice. But still, the place you live in is that much more drab and empty that they’re gone. I guess I just miss my friend.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s