Thomas Hardy is – strangely – a name that doesn’t really conjure many thoughts in most people’s minds. Sure some people know about his novels, such as Tess of the D’Urbervilles, Jude the Obscure and Far From the Madding Crowd, but much less people have read these than have heard about them, which is saying something. So just in case you don’t know who he is, I’ll give you some background information.
He’s a genius. A poet and a writer of fiction, he was born in 1840 and died in 1928. For more information, see his Wikipedia page.
My love affair with Tess of the D’Urbervilles began little over a year ago, when I stumbled upon an unusual looking book by a man I had never heard of before, sitting amongst some of the most well known classics in the world. I was intrigued, and as it was dirt cheap, and I’m dirt poor, I decided, what the hell. I bought it. I certainly didn’t regret my decision.
Within a few days, I was totally submerged in the cruel, heartless and ultimately devastating and tragic realms of Tess’ world. How could such a lovely, kind and beautiful character live a life plagued by such sadness? I asked myself. As I plummeted towards the ending, I felt emotionally helpless. Tess is easily the most fantastic protagonist I’ve encountered in literature (at least on a par with Harry Potter and Elizabeth Bennet).
Soon afterwards I ordered Jude the Obscure online (second hand, because I’m poor). I bought it, mainly, because it was supposed to be controversial. I couldn’t wait to find out why it had been the cause of such public outcry when it was first released. And although it, like Tess, was devastating, cruel, and ultimately an incredible novel, I was disappointed to see that there was nothing particularly juicy about it at all that should have made it so controversial. While I was expecting sex and violence, I got adultery and pain.
However once I got over my initial surprise at this novel’s lack of controversy, I realised that it was as good, if not better, than Tess of the D’Urbervilles. It was clear to me that a new realm of classical novels had been opened.
So if I could advise you, reader, in any way whasoever, I would say pick up a copy of one of Hardy’s works. If you have an experience similar to mine, you won’t regret it.