Works of Thomas Hardy discussion

Desperate Remedies
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message 1: by Rob (new) - rated it 3 stars

Rob (arhvee) | 9 comments Hi all! Just a note to let you all know that I've finished my examination of Desperate Remedies at the Joy Lies Slain blog. I have a feeling that Under the Greenwood Tree won't take 6 weeks and 8 installments to parse but you never know! I'll be posting a review of Arthur Mee's The King's England (Dorset), a walking tour of Dorset written in 1939 in the next few days.

message 2: by Alison (new)

Alison Giles | 29 comments Thanks Rob for your post. I'm yet to read Desperate Remedies so am trying to hold off reading your blog until I've finished. I have an interesting book titled 'Hardy's Folkways'. Has anyone in this group heard of it? It describes all the cultural behaviours of Victorian Dorset as well as ancient Dorset.

message 3: by Rob (new) - rated it 3 stars

Rob (arhvee) | 9 comments Alison,

I'm not familiar with that one but I'm assembling a secondary bibliography of Dorset related materials so THANK YOU!

David | 17 comments I too have enjoyed reminiscing over Desperate Remedies in tandem with your insights, thank you.

I also purchased and devoured Winter and Max Gate - thank you for those recommendations.

I have also discovered this, which plays in the UK, although I haven't listened to it yet. I hope it's of interest, if it works.

message 5: by Rob (new) - rated it 3 stars

Rob (arhvee) | 9 comments David,

Many thanks for reading JLS! I'm still tussling with the exact form of future reviews. This one went on a bit long for my taste and had too much plot summary, a cardinal sin considering I edit book reviews for a living. Luckily, I can summarize the plot for Under The Greenwood Tree in a three sentence paragraph so I'm hoping to make my writing on it a bit more thematically oriented. Thanks for the link to the Nicholson piece. I've saved it and hope to listen to it this weekend. I feel like a Hardy fan would have to go out of his or her way not to love Winter but I'm curious about how Max Gate worked for you...

message 6: by Alison (new)

Alison Giles | 29 comments Can some one enlighten me on what 'winter' and 'max gate' are? I have visited Hardy's Max Gate, and of course didn't want to leave. I had studied quite a bit about him and his design of his building, so it was great to go there in person and check out the design, and to also get a sense of how the man lived. Interesting little space in the attic where Ms Gifford-Hardy lived (felt a bit Rochesterish with the wife in the attic), and lovely to see all Hardy's cats buried (with headstones) in the garden. I knew he was a cat lover, but this was a real treat. Please let me know what 'winter' is.

David | 17 comments Hi Rob

It was good to be reminded of the machinations (both good and clunky), as DR is hazy in my head despite my only having read it a year ago. Advancing years take their toll.

Winter was splendid, tastefully-imagined and told, and it is some feat on the author's part to make us feel sympathy for all three characters. I thought that Hardy was portrayed skilfully as a man in his dotage who, from Florence's viewpoint, doggedly held old attitudes, but to Mrs Bugler seemed to come over as an artist of vibrant, creative mind and traditional charm. The title is perfect; it almost made me feel as if I was in the dark coldness of Max Gate reading it.

Max Gate, as I think you infer, was less-pleasing, but the narrative device was good and as a sociological text, it's extremely illuminating (like Winter) on the conflict between Victorian values and the then modern 1920s. Nellie's narrative, in particular, demonstrated that the rigid, prudish moral strictures of the Victorian age have all but disappeared, even in far-flung Dorset, and Hardy's death upstairs is almost a metaphor for this. Having an inquisitive and intelligent local newshound in the cast list also gave a flavour of a set of new values, whether good or bad.

Character-wise, Florence got a bit of a better deal than Nicholson gave her. Her confusion, bewilderment and inner conflict over Thomas's death and the political competition made her a figure deserving of pity. Neither Barrie nor Cockerell came out of it very well and their influence completely negated the Hardy family's feelings and the Stinsford parson was weakness personified.

It wasn't the easiest of books to enjoy, but I am glad I read it.

I'm looking forward to your appraisal of Under The Greenwood Tree. I think there's a review somewhere on Goodreads that reviews it in rock n roll terms as the chick frontwoman displaces the hoary old rockers!

Best wishes


message 9: by Alison (new)

Alison Giles | 29 comments Thank you for the links David. Much appreciated. May have a go at them when I return to Oz.

message 10: by J (new) - added it

J (propellingpencil) | 1 comments Return of the Native was Hardy's own favourite, according to Claire Tomalin's excellent biography, 'The time torn man'.

Brian Reynolds | 92 comments J wrote: "Return of the Native was Hardy's own favourite, according to Claire Tomalin's excellent biography, 'The time torn man'."
I thought I had read somewhere that Hardy liked "The Woodlanders" best. Fickle man. Of course what else would one expect from someone who gives his heroines multiple suitors.

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