Thomas Hardy OM (1840-1928) was an English novelist and poet, prominent in the Late Victorian era. He's known for being unusual among his peers for writing exclusive about rural England, and averting Britain Is Only London.
Hardy is known for being a pessimist and a realist. He portrayed the lives of his characters as realistically as possible, with a minimum of judgment. In this respect, he is considered a disciple of George Eliot; his no-drama style and his fairly neutral stance (for his day) on sexual matters can also be compared to Gustave Flaubert. Particularly like Eliot, most of his novels focused on everyday life of ordinary people in rural England; he developed a realistic but completely fictional version of his native West Country as a setting for his novels. However, he had a sense for the poetic in language and description heavily influenced by Romantics, particularly Wordsworth, which can be seen throughout his work.
Hardy is often seen as the Spiritual Antithesis of Dickens. Where Dickens represented an optimistic and classically liberal view of progress, Hardy was a pessimistic satirist, who ruthlessly skewered the mores of rural England, castigated against the mores and values of England, and critically examined religion, class, family and, above all, marriage. Hardy's works are distinguished for their powerful and complex female characters, which while not feminist by today's standards, were an update on the idealized and artificial dichotomy of the time.
Not to be confused with Tom Hardy.
Works by Thomas Hardy with their own pages:
- Far from the Madding Crowd (1874)
- The Return of the Native (1878)
- The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886)
- The Son's Veto (1891)
- Tess of the d'Urbervilles (1891-92)
- Jude the Obscure (1895)
Thomas Hardy's work provides examples of:
- Cliffhanger: Chapter XXI of A Pair of Blue Eyes features a literal cliffhanger ending as Henry Knight is dangling over a seaside cliff, hanging on for dear life as Elfride Swancourt runs to get help before he loses his grip.
- Downer Ending: Things don't tend to end well in Hardy novels.
- From Bad to Worse: A common feature. Rarely do things start out as totally peachy-keen. But, by the end of the book, the things the characters were justifiably unhappy about back then look positively minor when compared to how everything winds up.
- The Lost Lenore: Most of Hardy's poetry is inspired by his first wife, Emma. In a cruel twist of irony, he neglected her for his work while she was alive.
- No Woman's Land: Hardy's England was a place of wife-selling, bad marriages, sexual assault, poverty and little to no access to education.
- You Can't Fight Fate: Hardy was an adherent of fatalism, which stated that everything was fated and any attempts to avert it would just cause the fate in question to happen more painfully. This tended to lead to a Downer Ending, as noted above.