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Archived Group Reads 2015 > UTGT - Part 4 - Autumn & Conclusion

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message 1: by Deborah (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 923 comments Please post your comments and questions here. To get us thinking,

If you've read other works by Hardy, how does this one compare?
Would you read Hardy again?


message 2: by Peter (last edited Nov 22, 2015 11:31AM) (new)

Peter I'm not sure if the Fancy - Dick hand washing scene or the Fancy with Dick and Shiner investigating her bee- stung lips scene was more delightful, but both had an innocence and humour that is in short supply in much of Hardy's later novels.

To me, UTGT was a novel of innocence. Its rural setting and topography anticipates and is further expanded within Hardy's later novels, yet it shares little similarity to the darkened, fate-laden novels to come.

I found this novel to be somewhat light. While an interesting read, it lacked the sweep and power of Hardy's later novels, just as Dickens's Pickwick Papers, while an interesting read, lacks the scope and depth of his later novels. That said, the opportunity to read UTGT gave me a strong feeling of place, a clear insight into Hardy's concept of rural innocence, and a glimpse of what was to come.

For example, Hardy's use of birds, and how their symbolic meaning and actions reflect the story, gives us a peek into his later style. The Cuckoo lays its eggs in other bird's nests, and Hardy, in Part Four, places Dick and Fancy in Cuckoo Lane, a subtle suggestion of Fancy replacing Dick as a suitor or future husband. An owl is killing a mouse when Mr. Day is refusing to give his permission for Fancy to marry Dick. The novel ends with Hardy having Fancy hearing a nightingale's call "Come hither, come hither, come hither!" To this call Fancy comments "O, tis the nightingale... and thought of the secret she would never tell."

Well. Earlier in this section we had Fancy going to the local witch for advice. In an previous section we had an apple very prominently falling from a tree. At the end of UTGT the reader is left to speculate about the happiness for Dick and Fancy's prospects in marriage.

In one of Hardy's later novels we can well imagine the prospects for Dick and Fancy; however, in UTGT it is difficult to look into the future with as much clarity.


message 3: by Deborah (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 923 comments One of the things that stood out for me is Fancy seems to have one foot in tradition, and one foot in the modern world. She acknowledges many of the changes, but then opts for tradition (the wedding scene). It's as if she sees the benefits of both.


message 4: by Lily (last edited Nov 22, 2015 11:54AM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 1290 comments If one doesn't know later Hardy, this one might seem light-hearted, even trivial. When one has experienced Tess and Jude, one feels grateful that Hardy could once write thus.

At least, that's one way of expressing my reaction to UTGWT.


message 5: by Nina (new)

Nina (ninarg) | 106 comments Peter wrote: "I'm not sure if the Fancy - Dick hand washing scene or the Fancy with Dick and Shiner investigating her bee- stung lips scene was more delightful, but both had an innocence and humour that is in sh..."

I really enjoyed your post, and I agree that it lacks the sweep and power of Hardy's later novels. I must admit that I find myself disappointed - it's a fine novel, but I think that Hardy would have done more with it later in his career. He could have done more with the quire vs Fancy, or playing up the drama of the different suitors etc. I really didn't like Fancy, but Reuben Dewy and the rest of the quire were wonderful. They were the best part of the story for me.

I guess I just prefer Hardy's later work and he set his own bar so high that an otherwise fine novel falls short for me.


message 6: by Peter (new)

Peter Nina wrote: "Peter wrote: "I'm not sure if the Fancy - Dick hand washing scene or the Fancy with Dick and Shiner investigating her bee- stung lips scene was more delightful, but both had an innocence and humour..."

Yes. I agree with you. While the latter Hardy is bleak, it also has a power and sweep that UTGT does not have. I would imagine Hardy did not want, or was not yet ready in his career, to roll in the black storm clouds of Fate, but somehow I like the Hardy storms rather than the calm before them.


message 7: by Deborah (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 923 comments Peter wrote: "Nina wrote: "Peter wrote: "I'm not sure if the Fancy - Dick hand washing scene or the Fancy with Dick and Shiner investigating her bee- stung lips scene was more delightful, but both had an innocen..."

Call me crazy, but I loved this work as well as those with storm clouds :). I love his language and the strength in his female characters.


message 8: by Lily (last edited Nov 23, 2015 08:27PM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 1290 comments Deborah wrote: "Call me crazy, but I loved this work as well as those with storm clouds :). I love his language and the strength in his female characters...."

His "storm clouds" may be his masterworks, but I have a sense of relief that there was a period of Hardy's life when he could write UTGT, even if it has hints of apprenticeship. Does it perhaps increase my trust of the later works?


Helen_in_the_uk | 109 comments Nina wrote: "I agree that it lacks the sweep and power of Hardy's later novels. I must admit that I find myself disappointed - it's a fine novel, but I think that Hardy would have done more with it later in his career. ..."

This puts my own thoughts into much better sense than I could have. I felt that parts of the novel were only an outline for what Hardy could have made of the story. The ending was sweet, but lacking. Interesting to have read it though and compare to some of his later works that have much for content.


message 10: by Sharon (new)

Sharon (alynor) | 4 comments I'm not entirely certain the storm clouds are absent in this story. Fancy seems a particularly vain, self-absorbed creature and Dick may be unhappy once living with her. Hardy seemed to imply so in the chapter about the nutting, when he wrote that Dick almost escaped to be a free man again, and I interpreted that as the preferred outcome for Dick. But maybe Fancy will mature in the marriage and be worthy of him.


message 11: by LindaH (new)

LindaH | 499 comments The visit with the witch is a curious scene. Elizabeth tells Fancy that the "spell" cannot be undone except by a foolish mistake. I, dutiful reader, waited up to the very end for that undoing, but Fancy is successful within the pages of the novel, in keeping her secret. I assumed her foolish mistake was not telling Dick about the vicar's proposal. It's almost as if Hardy was ending it in a way to suit the public/serialized publication readership.


message 12: by Deborah (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 923 comments Was anybody surprised when Fancy accepted the vicar?


message 13: by Peter (new)

Peter I was. Innocent and naïve flirting seemed to be Fancy's style, but I wonder if she really knew what she wanted from life.

Fortunately, the vicar knew more about the ways of the world, and no doubt his own parish. His advice to Fancy was proper. Fancy's decision to ignore his advice is another matter, and the consequences remain only a matter of discussion.

It is interesting to speculate how the Sunday church service with the vicar in the pulpit, Fancy providing the music, Dick in the pew and perhaps a few of the choir simmering in silence would play out.


message 14: by Lesley (new)

Lesley | 86 comments Yes, I was surprised. I thought the Vicar would have been aware of betrothals in his parish, but evidently not. Fancy's immediate acceptance of his proposal had me wondering if she had designs on the Vicar all the while, hence her hesitance in accepting Dick's proposal. But thinking there was no interest from the Vicar accepted Dick as second preference?


message 15: by Ginny (new)

Ginny (burmisgal) | 193 comments The notes in my kindle edition suggest Hardy was referring to this poem by Thomas Campbell in the title for Ch. 1 in the Conclusion. Apparently Hardy used this poem at least twice in later works. Ch. 24 of Far from the Madding Crowd and Part 5, Chapter 3 of Jude the Obscure. Certainly the use of this quote at least hints at future difficulties.

Freedom and Love

HOW delicious is the winning
Of a kiss at Love's beginning,
When two mutual hearts are sighing
For the knot there's no untying!

Yet remember, 'midst your wooing, 5
Love has bliss, but Love has ruing;
Other smiles may make you fickle,
Tears for other charms may trickle.

Love he comes, and Love he tarries,
Just as fate or fancy carries; 10
Longest stays when sorest chidden,
Laughs and flies when press'd and bidden.

Bind the sea to slumber stilly,
Bind its odour to the lily,
Bind the aspen ne'er to quiver, 15
Then bind Love to last for ever.

Love's a fire that needs renewal
Of fresh beauty for its fuel;
Love's wing moults when caged and captured,
Only free he soars enraptured. 20

Can you keep the bee from ranging,
Or the ringdove's neck from changing?
No! nor fetter'd Love from dying
In the knot there's no untying.


message 16: by Ginny (new)

Ginny (burmisgal) | 193 comments Deborah wrote: "Was anybody surprised when Fancy accepted the vicar?"

Completely. Which makes this one of the most interesting events in the book for me. I enjoyed the letters they wrote to one another and felt that they made the characters much more vivid. Fancy shows she has been doing some reflection and is really quite self-aware. Her education and sophistication are apparent. "And you praised me--and praise is life to me."

In an era when being able to "handle" your woman was considered critical for the success of a relationship, I think we are left with an impression that Dick is much too sincere and unsophisticated to ever "handle" Fancy. And she, with her secrets and fear of being held captive, is unlikely to help him.


message 17: by Tracy (last edited Nov 24, 2015 12:46PM) (new)

Tracy (tracyrittmueller) | 54 comments Deborah wrote: "Was anybody surprised when Fancy accepted the vicar?"

I was surprised when Fanny went through with marrying Dick--although it does seem inevitable and right for the time, setting, and readers' expectations, despite the fact that it also seems so ill-fated.

I really enjoyed reading UTGT, and although I agree that Hardy's later works are more developed and skillful, I probably would have chosen not to read a novel like that this month. This was the right book for me.


message 18: by Tracy (new)

Tracy (tracyrittmueller) | 54 comments Peter wrote: "I'm not sure if the Fancy - Dick hand washing scene or the Fancy with Dick and Shiner investigating her bee- stung lips scene was more delightful, but both had an innocence and humour that is in sh..."

I appreciate your comments so much, Peter. I have a lot going on and just don't have the time to think as deeply as I'd like about what I'm reading. It's very comforting at the moment to have on-line acquaintances who make it easier on me to be a thoughtful reader (in other words, who do the work for me--we all need a little hand now and then, right? ;) Thank you! )


message 19: by Peter (new)

Peter Tracy wrote: "Peter wrote: "I'm not sure if the Fancy - Dick hand washing scene or the Fancy with Dick and Shiner investigating her bee- stung lips scene was more delightful, but both had an innocence and humour..."

Tracy

Goodreads is such a great place to meet, albeit virtually, people and discuss books that we mutually enjoy. I look forward to us exchanging ideas and insights in the new year.


message 20: by Lily (last edited Nov 24, 2015 08:16PM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 1290 comments Personally, I thought this was right on for Hardy, before he was daring enough to say other things about male and female relationships. When I read his biography, he is not a man I like. But I am deeply impressed by the way he was able to take his own experiences and the mores of his time and mold them into novels that provoke us across the years.

I came to like Fancy as a character, much more than I ever will, say the dithering Sue Brideshead of Jude, and much the same way that Tess stands for me as one of the great tragic figures of literature. Fancy is a flighty little character. She is young, immature. She is subject to her own emotional reactions and those of the men who court her, as well as to the pressures of her family to do what is fitting. But at some level, she is savvy, sensible, loving and lovable. I wish her and Dick the best, along with the children they may bear and raise. (After all, Dick seems not headed for the "career" dilemmas of a Jude.)


message 21: by Deborah (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 923 comments Lily wrote: "Personally, I thought this was right on for Hardy, before he was daring enough to say other things about male and female relationships. When I read his biography, he is not a man I like. But I am d..."

I, too, like Fancy. She represents the ability to move up in society. Her father indicated she was more cultured due to het aunt. She also represents the future while respecting the past. This book was a good one for me as I had been reading many very heavy books. A breath of fresh air was perfectly timed.


message 22: by Frances (new)

Frances (francesab) | 296 comments I was also surprised when Fancy accepted the Vicar, but I think her letter gives a believable explanation, and in choosing Dick over the Vicar, it is clear that he is her first choice despite the apparent higher station and more genteel life that the Vicar could offer. It also appears as if Dick's fortunes may be improving, and I will remain hopeful that they will know happiness and will likely enjoy a certain status within their limited social circle as both were clearly desired by others.

I also think that Hardy portrayed Fancy as a flawed but ultimately likeable character, and his portrait is far more nuanced and realistic than the young women portrayed by many writers of the time.

I look forward to reading more Hardy, and am suitably warned by some of the discussion not to expect more sweetness and light.


message 23: by Frances (new)

Frances (francesab) | 296 comments While some may feel Fancy has entered her marriage by deceiving her partner (by not telling him of the brief acceptance of another proposal) I would say that she was wise not to do so, knowing how much he had been upset by her slightest interaction with other men. She chose him, and letting him know of her brief disloyalty would only hurt him and introduce distrust into the relationship.

What do you think? Should she have told Dick all?


message 24: by LindaH (new)

LindaH | 499 comments Frances wrote: "While some may feel Fancy has entered her marriage by deceiving her partner (by not telling him of the brief acceptance of another proposal) I would say that she was wise not to do so, knowing how ..."

Good question. I would say that she should have told him. But I wonder, what did Hardy think? Maybe he intended that his reading audience should be caught up in this very question.


message 25: by Lily (last edited Nov 25, 2015 09:43PM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 1290 comments Frances wrote: "While some may feel Fancy has entered her marriage by deceiving her partner (by not telling him of the brief acceptance of another proposal) I would say that she was wise not to do so..."

I feel Fancy kept something that could sooth her vanity those times she might need a little remembering that she had once been able to attract the attention of several men and that telling now might only have made Dick suspicious of either her or the Vicar. If the story did ever receive the light of day, as it could, she could make it clear that it was entirely in the past and she was now clearly devoted to him, at least if that continued to be true.

Linda's probably on target when she suggests Hardy might have "intended that his reading audience should be caught up in this very question.' For me, it is sort of a question of the extent to which either a man or a woman is entitled to a past of their own so long as that past is unlikely to intrude unfavorably into either their present or future. Of course, that can often be difficult to judge.

(Tess explores this question much more rigorously and what happens when a man expects a woman to accept his past but he can't/won't accept hers.)


message 26: by Peter (last edited Nov 25, 2015 10:17PM) (new)

Peter Linda wrote: "Frances wrote: "While some may feel Fancy has entered her marriage by deceiving her partner (by not telling him of the brief acceptance of another proposal) I would say that she was wise not to do ..."

Linda:

Like Lily, I think you statement that maybe Hardy "intended his reading audience" to be caught up in Fancy, her decision not to tell Dick of the vicar's proposal, and that decisions possible future consequences is central to a reader's final interpretation of the novel. Our group discussion proves that intention worked!

To me, Hardy is a writer who through character names, setting, allusion and symbol frames his intentions within his novels very clearly.

The conclusion of this novel is much like a fulcrum with readers aligned and balanced on both sides of the question of Fancy's future. Unlike Hardy's later protagonists, whether male or female, whose fate is delivered with a clear and heavy hand, Fancy eludes me. My reading of the symbols tells me her future is, at best, unhappy if not tragic. Then, the next minute, I read a good argument for a positive future for Fancy and I swing around and join the other side of the balance.

One thing is certain. Hardy is a masterful writer.


message 27: by Renee, Moderator (new)

Renee M | 1861 comments Mod
Just finished reading all the comments. Such a great discussion of this section that I have nothing to add. I like both Rancy and Dick for reasons mentioned by others here. I like that Fancy accepted the vicar's proposal and her letter of explanation because they seem so realistic. Courting is messier than usually depicted in novels. And so much of one's future happiness rides on making a decision with which you then must live. I also like the way the vicar finds out from Dick himself that there is a previous engagement. So many emotions depicted in this "simple" story.


message 28: by Tracy (new)

Tracy (tracyrittmueller) | 54 comments Frances wrote: "While some may feel Fancy has entered her marriage by deceiving her partner (by not telling him of the brief acceptance of another proposal) I would say that she was wise not to do so, knowing how ..."

I think the fact of Fancy's acceptance of the vicar's proposal foreshadows future unhappiness/discontentment. At the same time, I admire her integrity, in quickly rescinding her acceptance and remaining loyal to Dick. She's so young, she can hardly know her own mind--especially since she is a woman in an age where women were expected to live their lives in service to fathers, husbands, and children. I like her better at the end of the story than I did in the middle; and I agree that Hardy is a masterful writer, who leaves us with a delicious ambiguity.


message 29: by Diane (new)

Diane | 152 comments Renee wrote: "Just finished reading all the comments. Such a great discussion of this section that I have nothing to add. I like both Rancy and Dick for reasons mentioned by others here. I like that Fancy accept..."

I don't have anything new or different to add either. I read the book late but thoroughly enjoy the thoughtful and insightful discussions.


message 30: by Diane (new)

Diane | 152 comments Ginny wrote: "The notes in my kindle edition suggest Hardy was referring to this poem by Thomas Campbell in the title for Ch. 1 in the Conclusion. Apparently Hardy used this poem at least twice in later works. C..."

Thank you for typing out the delightful poem. The last stanza leads me to the conclusion that Fancy will continue to flirt. Ah well, there are worse things.


message 31: by Ginny (new)

Ginny (burmisgal) | 193 comments Diane wrote: " Thank you for typing out the delightful poem..."

I would love to take more credit, but I searched it, then copied and pasted. But you are very welcome. I can't seem to find the link I used, but here is another one: http://poetrymoment.blogspot.ca/2010/...


message 32: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2531 comments Peter wrote: "I found this novel to be somewhat light. While an interesting read, it lacked the sweep and power of Hardy's later novels, just as Dickens's Pickwick Papers, while an interesting read, lacks the scope and depth of his later novels. That said, the opportunity to read UTGT gave me a strong feeling of place, a clear insight into Hardy's concept of rural innocence, and a glimpse of what was to come.
"


Nicely said.


message 33: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2531 comments Lily wrote: "If one doesn't know later Hardy, this one might seem light-hearted, even trivial. When one has experienced Tess and Jude, one feels grateful that Hardy could once write thus."

Are you suggesting that you wish he had stuck with the UTGT type novels and not gone over to the darker side?


message 34: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2531 comments Sharon wrote: "I'm not entirely certain the storm clouds are absent in this story. Fancy seems a particularly vain, self-absorbed creature and Dick may be unhappy once living with her. Hardy seemed to imply so in..."

Very interesting comment.

It suggests that there is a portent of the later Hardy in what seems here like such an innocent story. That fate (or Fate) will catch up with Fancy and Dick and turn them into a Tess and Angel.


message 35: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2531 comments Deborah wrote: "Call me crazy, but I loved this work as well as those with storm clouds :). I love his language and the strength in his female characters.
"


I call you not crazy but intensely sane. I also love both sides of Hardy. To your list of strengths I would add his obvious deep knowledge and love of the Wessex country. There is so much of the landscape and natural beauty (and sometimes ugliness, as in Flintcomb-Ash farm).


message 36: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 1290 comments Everyman wrote: "...Are you suggesting that you wish he had stuck with the UTGT type novels and not gone over to the darker side? ..."

No, not at all. But it felt nice to consider that this oft troubled man had a period in his life when he could write something like UTGWT.


message 37: by Rut (new)

Rut | 55 comments Hi, I know it’s a little late for comments on this tread, however, I just wanted to say how much I ended up enjoying this reading. I was afraid it would not be so. In the beginning I struggled with the language a little bit and it made it hard to go past the first two or three chapters.

Besides, characters seem unrelatable to me. That was until I read some of the comments posted on the background tread. The photos of the country on which UTGWT was situated were especially helpful.
Little by little the scenario and eventually the plot became brighter; soon I was absorbed, literally, absorbed into the story. I became conflicted by how I knew Fanny was much more vain and inconstant than Dick, for which she probably did not deserve him, and yet I could not bear the thought of them breaking up.
I laughed, I suffered, I sighed, in a word I found that escape from this era which is one of the reasons I love reading a Victorian author. So, thumbs up for Thomas Hardy!

The fact is, that when I saw that this group was going to read Hardy and soon afterwards Trollope, I felt relieved. Those are two Victorians authors I had yet to cross out of my list, for I had never read any of their famous works (shame on me) and I wanted to do it this year. So, thank you Victorians for making this easier for me. It was a good start with Hardy! Let’s see what happens with Trollope.


message 38: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2531 comments Rut wrote: "Hi, I know it’s a little late for comments on this tread, however, I just wanted to say how much I ended up enjoying this reading."

Delighted to hear it, and far better late than never!


message 39: by Rut (new)

Rut | 55 comments Everyman wrote: "Rut wrote: "Hi, I know it’s a little late for comments on this tread, however, I just wanted to say how much I ended up enjoying this reading."

Delighted to hear it, and far better late than never!"

Thank you Everyman!


message 40: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 1290 comments Rut wrote: "...for I had never read any of their famous works ..."

Rut -- I was in my sixties or close there-to the first time I read Hardy. I have had some fabulous arguments over the text of Tess of the D'Urbervilles in the years since (including with Eman). May you have as much fun exploring.

And some of the movies generated are quite good, such as "Far from the Madding Crowd."


message 41: by Deborah (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 923 comments Rut wrote: "Hi, I know it’s a little late for comments on this tread, however, I just wanted to say how much I ended up enjoying this reading. I was afraid it would not be so. In the beginning I struggled with..."

It's never too late to post. I thoroughly enjoyed your comments. While I had read Hardy before, it had been quite some time ago. This book reminded me why I enjoy him,


message 42: by Renee, Moderator (new)

Renee M | 1861 comments Mod
Agreed! And looking forward to another great year of Victorian reading! :D


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