4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
A modern-day Hermann Lea, 22 July 2013
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.