Far from the Madding Crowd


The current common opinion of Hardy, while naming him with George Meredith as the greatest of English novelists since George Eliot, chiefly plays about his later works, particularly Tess of the D'Urbervilles and Jude the Obscure, as being not only original, deliberative, and characteristic, but more in accord, also, with certain modern tendencies in thoughtful fiction. In the background of the common conception lie, more vaguely, the notions of the operation of caprice, of irony, of fate and immortal jest in human affairs; of tragedy predetermined in character; of a vivid land, Wessex, peopled by a sturdy, picturesque, humorous, racy stock; of a literary art of very distinguished quality, best represented in such novels as Far from the Madding Crowd, The Return of the Native, and Tess.

This popular vision of Hardy is, like most popular literary impressions, mainly sound. But, like most general ideas, it, of course, misses the particular story or the specific virtue, in which, after all, the interest of novels largely lies. The work of few modern novelists yields a greater amount of interest or of pleasure, usually of a depressing kind, than a consecutive reading of the fourteen novels from Desperate Remedies to Jude and the two-score or so of shorter stories and novelettes written from time to time throughout Hardy's career. But they must be read; no amount of secondary talk can take the place of

Additional information

Publisher: Place of publication:
  • New York
Publication year:
  • 1918


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