Attitudes to the Past

  • Harold Orel


The concatenation of circumstances that led to the sinking of the Titanic on 15 April 1912 caused more than one historian of the time to feel uneasy over the inscrutable and unpredictable workings of Destiny; but only Hardy’s famous poem, ‘The Convergence of the Twain’, prepared for the ‘Dramatic and Operatic Matinée in Aid of the Titanic Disaster Fund’ that was given at Covent Garden Theatre on 14 May, endures today as ‘the one piece of imaginative literature occasioned by the Titanic that seems likely to survive all journalistic accounts and all fictional re-creations.’1 As an occasional poem, it might well be treated in another chapter. But as a grimly hostile reflection on attitudes current in the twentieth century, on modern hubris, the poem formulates a position of some concern to our understanding of Hardy’s perspective on the past, which increasingly affected both the number and content of the poems contained in his final volumes of verse.


Modern Literature Honorary Degree Late Lyric Journalistic Account German Militarism 
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  1. 1.
    John Malcolm Brinnin, The Sway of the Grand Saloon: A Social History of the North Atlantic (New York: Delacorte Press, 1971) p. 382.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Merryn Williams, Thomas Hardy and Rural England (London: Macmillan, 1972; New York: Columbia University Press, 1972) p. 154.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    Donald Davie, Thomas Hardy and British Poetry (New York: Oxford University Press, 1972; London: Routledge, 1973) p. 38.Google Scholar
  4. 32.
    W. M. Parker, ‘A Visit to Thomas Hardy’, Monographs on the Life, Times and Works of Thomas Hardy, No. 24 (Beaminster, Dorset: Toucan Press, 1966) pp. 5–6.Google Scholar
  5. 33.
    Vere H. Collins, Talks with Thomas Hardy at Max Gate: 1920–1922 (London: Duckworth, 1928) p. 49.Google Scholar

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© Harold Orel 1976

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  • Harold Orel

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