Pam Webb

a writer's journey as a reader

Author Snapshot: Thomas Hardy

image: Wikipedia


Thomas Hardy is not being featured because he’s a fave found on my author list. Actually, I’m doing so because I recently finished reading Far From the Madding Crowd and I surprisingly liked it. I had tried his other novels: Jude the Obscure, Tess of the d’Urbervilles and they simply didn’t grab me. FFMC did. The funny thing is while reading the book I kept imagining Julie Christie as Bathsheba Everdene and Alan Bates as the faithful Gabrial Oakes. These are not current box office top notes of today. Click. Click. I watched the movie version years ago, and guess who were the stars of that gem? Yup, Julie and Alan.



Book Cover:  Far from the Madding Crowd

image: Penguin Books


Hardy’s tale of a headstrong, independent young woman who is courted by three men is set in Hardy’s fictional Wessex county, which in reality was a composite of different counties found in southwest and central England. The story is of rural England in 1874 and of love found in its many forms: unrequited, endearing, faithless, adoring, and feckless. A complicated love story of multiple levels, Hardy exposes readers to his real love, which is the pastoral side of England. His details of running a farm, the harsh cruelties of nature, and the enduring spirit of the hard-working people is what makes this novel so memorable. It’s considered the novel that moved his career into the front spot of literary fame. Although he did write novels, Hardy also wrote poetry and considered himself more of a poet than a novelist. In fact, FFMC’s title is inspired from a bit of poetry from another Thomas (Gray). From

Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy comes from “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard” by Thomas Gray

Far from the madding crowd’s ignoble strife
Their sober wishes never learn’d to stray;
Along the cool sequester’d vale of life
They kept the noiseless tenor of their way.

Hardy Bits:

  • His heart is buried at Stinsford with Emma (first wife) and his ashes are in the Poets’ Corner
  • He disdained much of Victorian principles, just like Dickens
  • Hardy’s second wife, his secretary, was *ahem* forty years older
  • A remake of Far From the Madding Crowd is due out March 2015

I’m looking forward to comparing the two versions. And we all know the book is always better.

Here is a bonus for you Hunger Games fans: an interview from Entertainment Weekly with Suzanne Collins. See, there is too a reason for reading classics.

Which classic have you never read — but pretended you did?
I sort of half read Thomas Hardy’s The Mayor of Casterbridge. It was assigned in 10th grade, and I just couldn’t get into it. About seven years later I rediscovered Hardy, and consumed four of his novels in a row. Katniss Everdeen owes her last name to Bathsheba Everdene, the lead character in Far From the Madding Crowd. The two are very different, but both struggle with knowing their hearts.

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12 thoughts on “Author Snapshot: Thomas Hardy

  1. FFMC was THE TEXT we had to study for 2 years to get through high school and I saw the movie with Bates and Christie way back in 1977 as part of the prep. Yus, I’m pretty darn old. I like Hardy. Loved Tess, Return of the Native.

    Dickens has some lighter books and a lighter touch even when he’s making some pretty hard hitting points; David Copperfield – studied in Grade 7 and Oliver Twist for example.

    A remake? hmmm. I just wrote an analyses of VicLit, mostly poking fun at Austen and the Bronte clan.

    • It will be interesting to see how they approach the remake, what they emphasize. I wasn’t totally enamored with the approach for the latest Jane Eyre remake with Fassbender. It’s always interesting to see how each generation tries to improve on a classic story.

  2. Perhaps it’s time for me to read this one. It’s been on my shelf for years. Perhaps I should see the movie, too….

  3. I’ve never read Hardy. I’m a loser.

    But not for long.

    *Adds Far From the Maddening Crowd to Christmas list.*

  4. fictionistasan on said:

    I don’t like Hardy’s negativity and pessimism. His writing style is good and the vocabulary is awesome! 🙂

  5. I’ve dipped my toe in Hardy, my wife has consumed him whole. Must visit him again.

  6. Hardy is hardly an easy read—your toes might get more than dunking😉

  7. You’re, and besides it was a mixed metaphor, anyway. ;>)

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