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One of Hardy's masterpieces.
on 22 November 2015
On the quiet, I'm a bit of a fan of novels of the late 19th and early 20th century. Thomas Hardy I would imagine needs little introduction to most and I expect that many of those reading this will have come across his work at school. I even liked him then!
Briefly, this is a story of a west country man's fortunes throughout his adult life and we experience his ups and downs. By no means is he a perfect character. But despite having many faults we are still drawn to him, I think because when it really matters, he does the right thing.
Of course a lot has been written about this novel, from the splotchy pens of generations of school children to the typewriters and latterly the computers of professional reviewers and I doubt I could aspire to adding much new. However, I think it's worth noting that Hardy's language in relating this tale is fascinating. Looking at it in the second decade of the 21st century, I find the words and phraseology fascinating. There are words that over time have changed in meaning, some have disappeared from use and phrases that you can discern from their surroundings that you therefore understand and only serve to delight. For this reason, this book is a historical record of a past time, not only in the way that they live, but of the ever changing English language. But even further than that, we learn how the poor were treated with a rudimentary facsimile of a welfare system and also the state of development of the criminal court system in that period.
But above all, I'm sure that Hardy wanted to produce a book that provides entertainment, interest and provokes thought. Through the ages, it has done that and still does.