Hardy was famous before any of his poems were published, and many readers besides Leslie Stephen have recognized ‘the poetry which was diffused through the prose’ in much of his fiction. Some, despite the trend of modern criticism, might argue that his best writing is to be found in his prose. No valid comparison is possible, however. The prime of his life was devoted primarily to prose, and most of his poetry belongs to his later years. As a writer of fiction, Hardy had to compromise with his reading public; as a poet, he pleased himself, and could express ‘ideas and emotions which run counter to the inert crystallized opinion’ with comparative immunity (Life, 284–5). Even so, some of the novels present an operative, though intermittent, poetic vision on an ampler scale than was possible in the poems, not one of which is extended in subject.
KeywordsScientific Reading Reading Public Poetic Vision Poetic Style Early Poem
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