Thomas Hardy, Donald Davie, England and the English
Over the last twenty or so years Thomas Hardy’s reputation has risen at an astonishing rate. I can indicate the nature of this rise by saying that if I think back to the latter half of the 1950, when I was an undergraduate, I recall how very cool were the literary and academic worlds towards “the good little Hardy”. Indeed, James’s famous remark was thought to say it all. There were few critical studies, of the novels or the poetry, and I do not imagine that Hardy was taught on many undergraduate courses. You might know why R. G. Collingwood thought that the ending of Tess of the d’Urbervilles spoilt an otherwise impressive novel, and any anthology of twentieth-century poetry would be likely to include “The Darkling Thrush” and a few other poems; but that was more or less that. Not any more, however. Hardy has replaced Jane Austen as the novelist students will have read all or most of, the critical studies pour from the presses, and as for his poetic work, it is almost certain to feature prominently in any course on modern poetry.
KeywordsBritish Poetry Generous Anger Overwhelming Importance Poetic Work English Poet
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