Main elements
of the Novels
of Thomas Hardy

I admit much ignorance regardying Thomas Hardy but my friend recommends him, I have read some chunks and I did like the film Tess! I am interested in the idea of him as a writer of place and loss.

Thomas Hardy 1840-1928
He wrote:
Far from the Madding Crowd 1874
The Return of the Native 1878
The Mayor of Casterbridge 1886
Tess of the d'Urbevilles 1891
Jude the Obscure 1895


Hardy is a transitional author between the nineteenth and twentieth century. He locates his characters in a well described geographical and historical largely rural setting from which their loves and tragedies can be made more poignant.


EXTRACT from Chapter 42 Far from the Madding Crowd
'Well, really, I must be onward again now,' said Joseph.
'Now, now, Joseph; nonsense! The poor woman is dead, isn't she, and what's your hurry?'
'Well, I hope Providence won't be in a way with me for my doings,' said Joseph, again sitting down. 'I've been troubled with weak moments lately, 'tis true. I've been drinky once this month already, and I did not go to church a-Sunday, and I dropped a curse or two yesterday; so I don't want to go too far for my safety. Your next world is your next world, and not to be squandered offhand.'
'I believe ye to be a chapel-member, Joseph. That I do.'
'Oh, no, no! I don't go so far as that.'
'For my part,' said Coggan, 'I'm staunch Church of England.'
'Ay, and faith, so be I,' said Mark Clark.
'I won't say much for myself; I don't wish to,' Coggan continued, with that tendency to talk on principles which is characteristic of the barley-corn. 'But I've never changed a single doctrine; I've stuck like a plaster to the old faith I was born in. Yes; there's this to be said for the Church, a man can belong to the Church and bide in his cheerful old inn, and never trouble or worry his mind about doctrines at all. But to be a meetinger, you must go to chapel in all winds and weathers, and make yerself as frantic as a skit. Not but that chapel-members be clever chaps enough in their way. They can lift up beautiful prayers out of their own heads, all about their families and shipwracks in the newspaper.'
'They can - they can,' said Mark Clark, with corroborative feeling; 'but we Churchmen, you see, must have it all printed aforehand, or, dang it all, we should no more know what to say to a great gaffer like the Lord than babes unborn.'
'Chapel-folk be more hand-in-glove with them above than we,' said Joseph, thoughtfully.
'Yes,' said Coggan. 'We know very well that if anybody do go to heaven, they will. They've worked hard for it, and they deserve to have it, such as 'tis. I bain't such a fool as to pre-tend that we who stick to the Church have the same chance as they, because we know we have not. But I hate a feller who'll change his old ancient doctrines for the sake of getting to heaven. I'd as soon turn king's-evidence for the few pounds you get. Why, neighbours, when every one of my taties were frosted, our Pa'son Thirdly were the man who gave me a sack for seed, though he hardly had one for his own use, and no money to buy 'em. If it hadn't been for him, I shouldn't hae had a tatie to put in my garden. D'ye think I'd turn after that? No, I'll stick to my side; and if we be in the wrong, so be it; I'll fall with the fallen!'
'Well said - very well said,' observed Joseph - 'However, folks, I must be moving now: upon my life I must. Pa'son Thirdly will be waiting at the church gates, and there's the woman a-biding outside in the waggon.'
'Joseph Poorgrass, don't be so miserable! Pa'son Thirdly won't mind. He's a generous man; he's found me in tracts for years, and I've consumed a good many in the course of a long and shady life; but he's never been the man to cry out at the expense. Sit down.'
The longer Joseph Poorgrass remained, the less his spirit was troubled by the duties which devolved upon him this afternoon. The minutes glided by uncounted, until the evening shades began perceptibly to deepen, and the eyes of the three were but sparkling points on the surface of darkness. Coggan's repeater struck six from his pocket in the usual still small tones.
At that moment hasty steps were heard in the entry, and the door opened to admit the figure of Gabriel Oak, followed by the maid of the inn bearing a candle. He stared sternly at the one lengthy and two round faces of the sitters, which con-fronted him with the expressions of a fiddle and a couple of warming-pans. Joseph Poorgrass blinked, and shrank several inches into the background.
'Upon my soul, I'm ashamed of you; 'tis disgraceful, Joseph, disgraceful!' said Gabriel, indignantly...

Summary points from a dialogue between Ian Gregor and David Lodge, in Watts, C. (intro.) (1976), The English Novel, Questions in Literature series, London: Sussex Books, 95-110.