5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
A master story teller,
This review is from: Far from the Madding Crowd (Wordsworth Classics) (Paperback)
Author of Afinidad: A Novel of a Serial Killer
Aztec Dawn: A Tale of Sacrifical Murder, from Manhattan to Mexico
A master story teller, July 4, 2009
Author of Afinidad: A novel of a serial killer
Aztec Dawn: A tale of sacrifical murder, from Manhattan to Mexico
After reading a Thomas Hardy novel, I always heave a sigh of deep satisfaction; his writing is just so enjoyable. I reread Far from the Madding Crowd recently, choosing that novel out of all of his because it has a happier ending than many of the others. This is a tale of unrequited love; love gone bad; love truimphing; the whole gamut of love actually. Bethsheba Everdene, the object of three men's attention, is a wilful, very beautiful girl. Hardy weaves a skilful story about the quality of those men's love. One man's is utterly selfless (the farmer fallen on hard times, Gabriel Oak); one's is wholly about his own needs (the farmer, Mr Boldwood); and the other, Sergeant Troy, doesn't love her at all but thinks it sport to capture the affections of such a desirable woman.
The novel is set in the mid 1800s, in a fictional rural part of England called Wessex, where Hardy sets most of his novels. There is no one better than Hardy for describing the everyday life of the labourers who worked the fields of England before the Industrial Revolution ended their world for ever. His lengthy descriptions of conversations between these people as they take their ease in the local pub may be too wordy for modern viewers but I adore them. They are very descriptive of the way they talked and, to our modern ear, they are very funny. An example:
'Yes, continued Joseph Poorgrass - his shyness, which was so painful as a defect, filling him with a mild complacency now that it was regarded as an interesting study. 'Twere blush, blush, blush, with me every minute of the time, when she was speaking to me.'
'I believe ye, Joseph Poorgrass, for we all know ye to be a very bashful man.'
'Tis a' awkward gift for a man, poor soul,' said the maltster. 'And ye have suffered from it a long time, we know.'
'Ay, ever since I was a boy. Yes - mother was concerned to her heart about it - yes. But twas all for nought.'
And so on, in that vein. Hardy revels in recording conversations of that nature throughout his novels. He is also a master of the English language. An example; 'She contracted a yawn to an inoffensive smallness, so that it was hardly ill mannered at all.'
And here's another phrase, used when describing Bethsheba's good looks;
'Let it be said that, here, criticism checked itself and looked at her proportions with a long consciousness of pleasure.'
So that's why I sigh with pleasure when reading his books. Because there is no one better at using words to convey a story.
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Initial post: 20 Oct 2012 15:49:01 BDT
Caroline Galwey says:
Good review, but just to clarify, Hardy's Wessex isn't 'fictitious', more like 'fictionalized' - all the places are based on real identifiable places in Dorset: only the names have been changed.
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