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Thomas Hardy: The World of his Novels [Hardcover]

J. B. Bullen
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
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Price: £13.60 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

6 Jun 2013

Thomas Hardy’s Wessex is one of the great literary evocations of place, populated with colourful and dramatic characters. As lovers of his novels and poetry know, this ‘partly real, partly dream-country’ was firmly rooted in the Dorset into which he had been born.
J. B. Bullen explores the relationship between reality and the dream, identifying the places and the settings for Hardy’s writing, and showing how and why he shaped them to serve the needs of his characters and plots. The locations may be natural or man-made, but they are rarely fantastic or imaginary. A few have been destroyed and some moved from their original site, but all of them actually existed, and we can still trace most of them on the ground today.
Thomas Hardy: The World of his Novels is essential reading for students of literature and for all Hardy enthusiasts who want to gain new insights into his work

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Frances Lincoln (6 Jun 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 071123275X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0711232754
  • Product Dimensions: 3.3 x 15.3 x 20.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 67,445 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


'The Dorset tourist board and the Hardy Country initiative could do worse than promote Bullen's book, which is an excellent guide to the man and to the places in which his unique authorial voice may be fleetingly located.'

(Times Higher Education)

'A fascinating companion to Hardy's novels, this inspired piece of literary geography opens a rich window on to the author's world.'

(Good Book Guide)

About the Author

J. B. BULLEN holds the Chair of English Literature and Culture in the Department of English Literature, Royal Holloway, University of London. He is also Professor Emeritus of the University of Reading where he lectured on English Literature and Art History for over twenty-five years. He is the author of many books and articles including, for Frances Lincoln, Rossetti (9780711232259).

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Thomas Hardy: The World of His Novels (Frances Lincoln, 2013) is the latest in a long line of captivating books Barrie Bullen has written and edited in the last thirty years on nineteenth-century literature and culture. The book is exquisitely crafted and its material presence enhances the reading experience by supporting the central argument: that the world Hardy created in his work, the `dream country' of Wessex, is the result of a fine process of artistic transformation, where real places and experiences are recorded, recalled, distilled and modified to become essential elements in the narratives of the novels and in the fabric of the poems.

The book is issued in hard covers bound in sage-green cloth with gilt lettering on the spine. The text block is encased between two copies of the Map of the Wessex of the Novels and Poems printed on the end papers, which re-enacts visually the metaphor of defining and exploring Wessex. The headband, chapter headings and text on the dust jacket flaps match the cloth, in a lighter shade of sage, adding to the sense of distinct identity. The front of the dust jacket is entirely taken by J. A. Grimshaw's picture of The Timber Waggon (c. 1870-90), an eerie interplay of light and shadow in greenish sepia hues. The picture is aptly set with no borders, so the world it presents appears contiguous with ours. This makes it even easier to succumb to the illusion of being physically drawn into the picture towards the point where the perspective lines meet, to accompany the `woodlander' and his waggon deep into the hills, between the moonlight filtered through the night forest mist and its reflection on road and river.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A modern-day Hermann Lea 22 July 2013
By Sarah
J. B. Bullen has created a detailed, and often delightfully surprising, tour guide for Hardy's Wessex, exploring the buildings, places, and scenes that inspired his fiction. Bullen's evidently extensive research identifies and suggests new correspondences between the world Hardy shaped in his novels and the world in which he lived. Bullen's extraordinary eye observes the smallest of details, notably that the engraved names and dates of the previous inhabitants of Melbury house as observed by Giles Winterborne were likely inspired by those still visible today on the doorway of its `real-life' counterpart. But Bullen does more than simply identify these places. He delves into Hardy's imagination that transformed the world in which the novelist grew up, offering a highly accessible way of exploring his knowledge of architecture, art, music, and science. Importantly, however, this book considers not only the locations of Hardy's novels, but also his poems, expanding this interesting study in terms of geography and deepening it in terms of Hardy's emotional connection to place. Bullen takes the reader on a journey through Hardy's novels and poems, mapping out his inspiration.

This beautifully printed book - illustrated with some of Hardy's own sketches, alongside many photographs taken by Bullen himself - is an essential companion for any Hardy enthusiast and for anyone interested in Dorset and other areas of the English landscape which inspired the novelist and poet, including Wiltshire, Hampshire, and Cornwall. Reading Bullen's book leaves you wanting to return to, and read more of, Hardy's work, and to drive, cycle (as Hardy liked to do himself), and walk round these places for yourself.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So interesting 23 July 2013
The interesting insights, details and the warmth with which this book is written make it a joy to read. It has really inspired me to reread Hardy's novels. It is beautifully written, illustrated and presented.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars New light on Thomas Hardy 14 Aug 2013
Thomas Hardy. The World of His Novels by Barrie Bullen is an excellent, fascinating book; the peak of a lifetime of research - starting with The Expressive Eye, 1986 - dedicated to the visual dimension of Hardy's extensive production, but now more specifically focused on landscapes and locations in the novels. The author not only provides plenty of illustrations, including Hardy's own sketches and beautiful original photographs, but also, and especially, compelling insight into Hardy's language, as the title of the book, "The World of His Novels", emphasizes. According to Bullen, Hardy's language problematically integrates the outdoor scene into the plot of each story. Bullen's study confirms the general opinion that Hardy is one of the greatest writers of place and landscape, but its original argument is that Hardy's Wessex landscape, rather than being used as a background or backcloth to the scenes, is deployed as a living, dialectic agent against the tragic lives of his characters. The study therefore sets Hardy's novels in a vital, positive light, in contrast with the traditional interpretation that stresses only the gloomy, tragic aspect of his world. The world of Hardy's novels, Professor Bullen claims, is rooted in life: the real, concrete historical life in which Hardy lived and wrote - and which the illustrations carefully depict: an immanent, rural world facing the challenge of the historical change and swift transformations of the late 19th century; but also a life that is effectively grafted onto the writer's vision. Hardy's intense depiction of the spirit of place bears an analogy with the Brontės' vision, which tends to undermine the realistic form of the Victorian novel. Read more ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Thomas Hardy: place, fact and fiction
In this beautifully produced and illustrated book, Prof Bullen brings new life to the characters, relationships and places in six of Hardy's novels and the poems written after his... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Mike Hobbs
5.0 out of 5 stars Thomas Hardy's Novels Reconsidered
Whilst on holiday recently and having finished my book, I noticed J B Bullen's book `Thomas Hardy: The World of his Novels' on a table. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Keith Williams
5.0 out of 5 stars Spirit of place
Apparently, the world of Hardy's novels is a rustic one, with events and values set at time before our `modern world'. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Robin Hill
5.0 out of 5 stars The World of Wessex
Thomas Hardy described the Wessex he wrote so eloquently about, as a `partly real, partly dream-country'. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Marilyn Leah
5.0 out of 5 stars A pleasure to own and to read
I have to confess, that inspired by `Hardy, the World of his Novels', to re-read Hardy's novels I've just down-loaded the complete works on to my kindle so I can take them with me... Read more
Published 12 months ago by robin lipsey
5.0 out of 5 stars Wessex Revealed
A wonderful book: a carefully researched, and beautifully illustrated guide to the world of Hardy's novels. Read more
Published 12 months ago by A C Fincham
5.0 out of 5 stars Worlds within worlds
Rather than just locating the places that inspire Hardy's novels and then comparing them to their description, J B Bullen looks at their magical transformation to fit the needs of... Read more
Published 12 months ago by K. Everdene
5.0 out of 5 stars Round and About Wessex with Thomas Hardy
This attractive book looks at the best of Hardy's novels in relation to people and place. Reading it makes you want to reach for the Ordnance Survey maps and get out into the... Read more
Published 12 months ago by stephen m
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