An idea of the immediate response to the publication of Tess was given earlier (see page 5). It was both viciously attacked and stoutly defended, and Hardy, who like almost all writers was sensitive about the reception of his books, was very much hurt by the stridency of some of the reviewers. However, it was not long before critical comment became largely favourable. Such opposition as there was became based far less upon Hardy’s attitude to the Church and to sexual morals, and rather more upon his style, his so-called ‘pessimism’, his authorial intrusions, and his alleged philosophical inconsistencies. Not that the Establishment found it easy to forgive him. As late as 1943 it was possible for an Archbishop of Canterbury to say, ‘Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles is one of the worst books ever written.’
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