Far From the Madding Crowd
The critical reputation of Far from the Madding Crowd has remained the most stable among Hardy’s novels, and for good reason. Few issues tantalize and puzzle its readers. The first installment in Cornhill Magazine showed that it would be a powerful novel. Published anonymously as a serial, it at first provoked speculation that George Eliot was the author,1 but Hardy’s grammatical and syntactic infelicities were soon compared unfavorably with her skill.2 All in all, the immediate critical response was warm, despite qualifications, and the novel has continued to hold a high place among the Wessex novels. It became the standard against which the rest were evaluated, and remained so throughout Hardy’s career. That the others were usually thought inferior is more an index to critical predisposition than to the final superiority of Far from the Madding Crowd; but that it could be consistently used for a model indicates that its solid merits were recognized. The novel is still widely praised for its rustic characters, its dramatic scenes, its closely detailed, accurate, and, more importantly, evocative depictions of sheep-raising, and its correlations between man’s repetitious but sometimes frenzied activities and the calmly implacable but sometimes ferocious forces of nature.
KeywordsPerfect Balance Universal Force Orist View Final Superiority Schematic Style
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- 4.James Wright, Afterword, Far from the Madding Crowd, Signet ed. ( New York: New American Library, 1960 ), p. 378.Google Scholar
- 6.Richard C. Carpenter, “The Mirror and the Sword: Imagery in Far from the Madding Crowd,” NCF 18 (1964): 331–45.Google Scholar
- 10.Richard C. Carpenter, Thomas Hardy (New York: Twayne, 1964), p. 87. Google Scholar