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Tony Grist

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Hardy As Novelist And Poet [Jul. 17th, 2014|12:02 pm]
Tony Grist
Hardy the novelist is a writer of much greater scope and subtlety that Hardy the poet- who- grand as he is- can be really rather monotonous in his grumpiness. You wouldn't know- simply from the poems- that Hardy was capable of a Keatsian sensuousness (as in the the evocation of the summer of love at Talbothay's Farm)- or that his ideas on religion branched out beyond a sardonic baiting of commonplace Christianity into- on the one hand- an empathy with rustic paganism and- on the other- a grasping after the transcendent (as in Tess's OBEs and flashes of cosmic consciousness)- or, again, that he was mightily- and angrily- concerned with the politics of the English class system.

Prose, of course, can be diffuse where poetry is obliged to concentrate - but perhaps the difference also has something to do with the Hardy of the novels being a young man and the Hardy of the great poems an old man rather set in his opinions.
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Comments:
From: cmcmck
2014-07-17 03:48 pm (UTC)
I still prefer his poetry- it's the curmudgeonly aspect of some of them that I think appeals.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-07-17 04:11 pm (UTC)
Well, he's a great poet, but a great novelist too. It's a double very few writers have pulled off.
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[User Picture]From: kinderheldin
2014-07-18 04:15 pm (UTC)
I love his works -- novels and poems. A prof I had once cried after reading Hardy's poem about a blinded bird.

The same prof said Hardy had wanted to be known foremost as a poet, but turned to novel writing after not gaining ground as a poet. (Maybe I'm remembering wrongly.)

Jude the Obscure is one of my all-time favorites. I see what you say about the comical element in his world-view, yet the silliness turns on a dime to gravitas, like Jude returning to Arabella for one final romp. Sad and true and strange.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-07-19 08:23 am (UTC)
I believe it's true that poetry was Hardy's first love. Once he'd established himself as a writer- and had attained a measure of financial security- he gave up writing novels for good.

I bought a copy of Jude yesterday. It's next up on my list.
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