Introductory: Hardy, George Moore and Others

  • Peter J. Casagrande
Part of the Macmillan Hardy Studies book series (MHS)


In the long career of Thomas Hardy, George Moore occupied a special place, for Moore was undoubtedly one of the two literary contemporaries Hardy most despised. The other was G. K. Chesterton. On 11 January 1928, when Hardy lay dying, one of his last gestures was to dictate two epitaphs, one to Chesterton, the other to Moore. The epitaph to Chesterton, as the opening and closing couplets show, distilled Hardy’s lingering bitterness toward a critic who had attacked him fifteen years before as ‘a sort of village atheist brooding and blaspheming over the village idiot’: ‘Here lies nipped in this narrow cyst/The literary contortionist. … If one with him could not see/He’d shout his choice word “Blasphemy”.’ Chesterton had been perhaps the harshest critic of Hardy’s heterodoxy. Moore, on the other hand, had been the most savage critic of Hardy’s style, and to Moore Hardy bequeathed an ‘Epitaph for George Moore: On One Who Thought No Other Could Write Such English as Himself’:

‘No mortal man beneath the sky

Can write such English as can I.

They say it holds no thought my own

What then, such beauty (perfection) is not known.’

Heap dustbins on him:

They’ll not meet

The apex of his self-conceit.1


Romantic Love Possessive Pronoun Moral Compromise Dead Leave Exact Truth 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Thomas Hardy, Complete Poems, ed. James Gibson (London, 1978) p. 954.Google Scholar
  2. See G. K. Chesterton, The Victorian Age in Literature (London, 1913) p. 143;Google Scholar
  3. Michael Millgate, Thomas Hardy: A Biography (New York, 1982) pp. 571–2.Google Scholar
  4. 3.
    George Moore, Confessions of a Young Man (1888), ed. Susan Dick (Montreal and London, 1972) pp. 156–8, 172, 211. See Bailey, The Poetry of Thomas Hardy: A Handbook and Commentary (Chapel Hill, NC, 1971) p. 648.Google Scholar
  5. 8.
    See Malcolm Brown, George Moore: A Reconsideration (Seattle, 1955) pp. ix-x.Google Scholar
  6. 9.
    See Graham Hough, ‘George Moore and the Novel’, in George Moore’s Mind and Art, ed. Graham Owens (Edinburgh, 1970) pp. 166–75.Google Scholar
  7. 10.
    See Harold Bloom, The Anxiety of Influence: A Theory of Poetry (New York, 1973) esp. pp. 5–16, 19–45.Google Scholar
  8. 11.
    See Joseph M. Hone, The Life of George Moore (New York, 1936) pp. 194–5.Google Scholar
  9. 14.
    From Geraint Goodwin, Conversations with George Moore (New York, 1930) p. 151.Google Scholar
  10. 15.
    George Moore, Esther Waters (1894), ch. 48. All quotations from this novel (cited as EW) are from the Houghton Mifflin Riverside Edition, ed. Lionel Stevenson (Boston, Mass., 1963). Subsequent references appear in the text.Google Scholar
  11. 16.
    See Anthony Farrow, George Moore (Boston, Mass., 1978) p. 68; also Lionel Stevenson, Introduction to the Riverside Edition of Esther Waters, pp. xiii-iv.Google Scholar
  12. 19.
    The Letters of Henry James, ed. Percy Lubbock, 2 vols (New York, 1920) I, 190. See Dan H. Laurence, ‘Henry James and Stevenson Discuss “Vile” Tess’, Colby College Quarterly, 3 (1953) 164–8.Google Scholar
  13. 22.
    F. R. Leavis, The Great Tradition (New York, 1967) pp. 22–3.Google Scholar
  14. 23.
    See K. W. Salter, ‘Lawrence, Hardy, and “The Great Tradition”’, English, 22 (1973) 60–5. As Salter argues, Lawrence’s ‘central judgement of the nature of Hardy’s work cannot be easily set aside, and indeed ought not to be by those who place Lawrence in the great tradition while excluding Hardy’ (p. 61).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 24.
    Quoted in H. M. Block, ‘James Joyce and Thomas Hardy’, Modern Language Quarterly, 19 (1958) 337.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 30.
    Virginia Woolf, ‘“Jane Eyre” and “Wuthering Heights”’ (1916), in The Common Reader, First Series (New York, 1925) p. 222.Google Scholar
  17. 33.
    Virginia Woolf, ‘The Novels of Thomas Hardy’ (1928), in The Common Reader, Second Series (London, 1932) pp. 246–57.Google Scholar
  18. 35.
    In After Strange Gods (London, 1934) p. 54, where Eliot remarks that Hardy ‘was indifferent even to the prescripts of good writing: he wrote sometimes overpoweringly well, but always very carelessly; at times his style touches sublimity without ever having passed through the stage of being good’. For a spirited reply to Eliot, see Katherine Anne Porter, ‘Notes on a Criticism of Thomas Hardy’, Southern Review (Thomas Hardy Centennial Edition), 6 (1940) 150–61.Google Scholar
  19. 36.
    For Gissing, see Pierre Coustillas, ‘Some Unpublished Letters from Gissing to Hardy’, English Literature in Transition, 9 (1966) 197–209;Google Scholar
  20. for Howells, see My Literary Passions (New York, 1895) p. 182; for Cather, see The World of the Parish: Willa Cather’s Articles and Reviews, 1893–1902, ed. W. M. Curtin (Lincoln, Nebr., 1970) I, 266–7; for Dreiser, see William White, ‘Dreiser on Hardy, Henley and Whitman: An Unpublished Letter’, English Language Notes, 6 (1968) 122;Google Scholar
  21. Bennett, ‘My Literary Heresies’, T. P.’s Weekly, 4 (23 Sep 1904) 392, quoted in Thomas Hardy: An Annotated Bibliography, comp. and ed. Helmut E. Gerber and W. Eugene Davis (De Kalb, III., 1973) p. 105; for Proust, see George D. Painter, Marcel Proust: A Biography, 2 vols [1959] New York, 1978) II, 154–5, also pp. 110–33 below.Google Scholar
  22. 39.
    See Glen Cavaliero, The Rural Tradition in the English Novel, 1900–1939 (London, 1977) esp. ch. 1.Google Scholar
  23. For Romain Rolland, see W. F. Starr, ‘Romain Rolland and Thomas Hardy’, Modern Language Quarterly, 17 (1956) 99–103.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. See also Johannes Riis, ‘Naipaul’s Woodlanders’, Journal of Commonwealth Literature, 14 (1979) 109–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Peter J. Casagrande 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter J. Casagrande
    • 1
  1. 1.University of KansasUSA

Personalised recommendations