Henry James: The Ambassadors

  • T. B. Tomlinson


For the reasons just discussed, Hardy is in many ways a very modern novelist indeed. For all his country settings, and for all he brings certain instinctual drives more strongly and openly into play than most earlier novelists had done, he is not nearly so cut off from the succeeding century as, for instance, James’s rather patronising phrase, ‘the good little Thomas Hardy’, would imply. What Hardy can do, often much more sharply than many twentieth-century writers, is mix the strongly natural forces so evident in his best scenes with a highly sophisticated and modern awareness of the oddness — sometimes the downright injustice — of the circumstances surrounding many people’s lives. If some of these ‘circumstances’ are age-old, and not to be changed by any agency, human or divine, Hardy’s noting of this fact — at his best, alert and interested, rather than despairing — is very much in tune with characteristically English middle-class reactions in this century and the last.


Essential Simplicity Train Journey Emotional Capital American Scene Instinctual Drive 
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© T. B. Tomlinson 1976

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  • T. B. Tomlinson

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