The Country Novel before Hardy

  • Merryn Williams


The chief limitation of the country novel in the mid-nineteenth century is summed up admirably in an anonymous notice of Silas Marner in 1861 :

The words of George Eliot come on us as a new revelation of what life in quiet country parishes really is and has been. How hard it is to draw the poor may easily be seen if we turn to the ordinary tales of country life that are written in such abundance by ladies. There the poor are always looked at from the point of view of the rich. They are so many subjects for experimenting on, for reclaiming, improving, being anxious about, and relieving. They have no existence apart from the presence of a curate and a district visitor. They live in order to take tracts and broth.


Ordinary People Industrial Town Country Town Country Life Free Thought 
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  1. 24.
    F. E. Hardy, Early Life of Thomas Hardy (London, 1928) p. 129.Google Scholar

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© Merryn Williams 1972

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  • Merryn Williams

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