Posts Tagged ‘Thomas Hardy’

Ending a cycle only to start a cycle

Protected by Copyscape Online Copyright Checker




51V 34eRJiL._SL160_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-dp,TopRight,12,-18_SH30_OU01_AA160_[1]


Simulations  by Jean Baudrillard

Classical English Rhetoric by Ward Farnsworth

Selected Poems of Thomas Hardy (Penguin Classics)

It’s not been a good reading time.  I’m going through things pretty slowly.  And I’ve given up trying to write during the day.  I’m too stressed out.  The writing bug stings at night.  After 8 p.m., a switch goes off in my head and I’m suddenly reading to the exclusion of all else or writing to the exclusion of all else.  I’m going to stop fighting it and arrange my priorities around the fact that night time is the write time.

There is a mildly Gallic flavor to my current crop of pulp.

Graduate school has really expanded my reading repertoire.  If you read my post on Barthes “The Pleasure of the Text”, then you will know my feelings on swampy translations of French philosophical prose.  However, Baudrillard’s collection of translated notes that make up Simulations has qualities that TPoTT does not, specifically, continuity, organization, essay format, and better sentence structure.  You get more out of each paragraph without a lot of apologizing about how no equivalent phrases exist in English that would do justice to French subtleties.  The down side is that the phrasing is often clunky.  The information is solid gold, but it’s raw, rough gold.

Object Lessons probably has the most subtitles of any book that I’ve ever seen. “Object Lessons” – The PARIS REVIEW Presents “The Art of The Short Story.”

Another gift from the Academia fairies is reading about rhetoric.  Those Greeks had a word for EVERYTHING!  When you overuse conjunctions, there’s a word for that.  When you leave out conjunctions, there’s a word for that.  When you repeat words, there’s a word for that.  When you repeat phrases, there’s a DIFFERENT word for that.  This pattern of repetition that I’m doing here – there’s a word for that!  So, so bitchin’ rhetoric!

I have high hopes for Stylish Academic Writing. Wisely, Sword points out in her book that “[a]ny of the ‘smart sentencing’ principles outlined in this chapter can, of course, be temporarily suspended for rhetorical effect.” (p. 59.)

My graduate thesis is on Thomas Hardy’s poetry, and I’ve been working with poems from the Penguin collection.  Hardy poetry is wonderfully easy to read, and has great depth in spite of the light lyric feel of his work.  No wonder T. S. Eliot was annoyed by him.  It was like Salieri and Mozart.

Bowerstock’s From Gibbon to Auden: Essays on the Classical Tradition.  The cover made me buy it.  Also, I like reading essays.  (…said no teacher ever! LOL!)  However, I feel like I’ve been played.  I should know better than to buy these professional collections.  I want to get published.  Maybe I should just gather a handful of essays, slap a cute title on it and declare myself a high-end scholar.  It’s such a racket.  It’s like when you buy those romance story omnibuses and one story is awesome.  One story is so-so.  The rest are crap.  But you paid for five stories and only one of them gives you your money’s worth.  I hope this book won’t be like that. 


Anthologies – A Good Way to Sell Crap Stories

Button 3 (lefty/skinny)


Grad Eng II: Hardy Hardly Heeds His Heart

Protected by Copyscape Plagiarism Checker


“Let each man exercise the art he knows.”

— Aristophanes, Wasps

My second semester of graduate school has come and gone.  It was a good one.  Lively, even.  One class was “Writers and Their Milieu: Thomas Hardy”.  Here are the books we had to read in order from early Hardy to later Hardy.  (All editions are Penguin Classics.)


Product Details Product Details
Selected Poems Under The Greenwood Tree
Product Details Product Details
The Return of the Native The Woodlanders
Tess of the D'Urbervilles (Penguin Classics) Product Details
Tess of The D’Urbervilles Jude The Obscure
Product Details Caveat:
If you have to read Hardy for a class, make sure you get the teacher-recommended edition because Hardy made a lot of revisions to his novels between printings.
Far From The Madding Crowd  


My favorite thing out of the whole course was Hardy’s poetry.  He makes it look so easy, but you just know that means he was extra careful about every word.  It looks so, I want to say “comfortable”, in the sense that it seems to be what he preferred writing. The poems are witty, snide, sarcastic.  Their construction is so distinctive and even musical.  The themes were many of the same that you might find in the novels.  People with bad luck and and even worse relationships.  If you have to do Hardy, start with the poems.  They, at least, are genuinely enjoyable. 

Novels were not his favorite thing. He felt pressured personally and professionally to write them because they are easier to market, among other reasons.  Also, he wanted to prove to himself that he could master the art.  Even his weakest novel (according to many in the critic biz) Under The Greenwood Tree is quite palatable.  We didn’t do Mayor of Casterbridge.  That would have been too obvious.  Instead, we went with Woodlanders, which I liked a lot.  I liked it better than Tess and Jude.  I don’t need to be mowed down by the four horsemen of the literary apocalypse – death, depression, despair, and destitution to figure out what life is all about, that Divine Providence masquerades as bad luck, and self-determination only works if no one gets in your way.  I can figure that out by reading way, WAY more entertaining writers like Juvenal or Aristophanes or S. J. Perelman.  But, it was the done thing, and he did it well.   

I really loved the way Hardy described the scenery.  He didn’t just describe how things looked, but what the land meant to the people who have to live there.  How light and seasons affect the mood of the place.  If you’re ever looking for pictures painted with words, this is it!  His descriptions, more common in the early novels than in the later ones, are like looking at paintings of the English or German Romantic School – specifically, the Pre-Raphaelites or Caspar David Friedrich.  I’m sure there were critics out there who liked that sort of thing, but all you read about in the Forewords and Introductions is the bitching and moaning about scandals and how Hardy hated writing novels and how misogynistic he is towards women in his novels.  So typically academic.  There’s very little of praise about his considerable writing artistry. It’s usually an afterthought after the academicians get through tearing him a new one for victimizing women and being so depressing. 


Web site source of this graphic

If you like English literature or writers who are not afraid to show the uncomfortable truths of their time, and have a healthy attention span, Hardy is really good. Don’t let the four horsemen of the literary apocalypse trample your appreciation of Hardy’s writing.

Protected by Copyscape Plagiarism Checker

%d bloggers like this: