English Literature Of The 19th Century:
Richard Doddridge Blackmore
Sir Walter Besant
Robert Louis Stevenson
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( Originally Published Early 1900's )
Far different in aim and effect is the stern realist, Thomas Hardy, loving painter of rural scenery, but grim pessimist in his delineation of character and fate. Born in Dorsetshire in 1840, he studied architecture, but at the age of thirty turned to novel-writing and soon proved signal ability. "Under the Greenwood Tree" (1872) showed him a master of rural life and of the English rustic, whose homely dialect talk reveals an unconscious humor. In "A Pair of Blue Eyes" (1873) the heroine, Elfride, when a girl, trifles a little with a village youth, who pines and dies, leaving his mother to avenge his wrongs. A slight imprudence of Elfride's with another is magnified into a scandal which drives off her true lover. In "The Return of the Native" the lofty pride of the dainty Eustacia Vye destroys the ambition of Clym Yeobright without granting him love. In "Jude the Obscure," the hero wishing to become a student at Oxford, is tricked into marriage with the sensual Arabella. Later, when his early hope seems likely to be realized, he meets his intellectual cousin, Sue, who is so highly educated that she is too pure to think of marriage, yet in too intimate association with Jude, falls into sin. In "Tess of the D'Urbervilles" a fair country maiden had been betrayed, but had gone to tend a dairy a short distance away, where her fault was unknown. Angel Clare, a gentleman's son, falls in love with the dairy-maid, but on their marriage-day he feels bound to confess a previous love-affair. Tess then tells her own story, and Clare, horrified, repulses her as unclean, and she is swept downward to her wretched fate. These powerful but gloomy novels show Hardy's stern, fatalistic view of human life, regarding the causes and chances leading to failure and misery as more numerous and powerful than those tending to success. In parts of these stories and still more in his short tales, the charms of the country are finely depicted, and in this Hardy excels all other novelists.