Various persons read books for various reasons. Some of them go through books hurriedly because their aim is to get familiar with the plot or to boast before others that they have read so many volumes written by so many different’ people. Others read to improve their command over the language. Very few read books to know the author. For a person like me who has a host of favorite writers and poets, it is extremely difficult to single out one from them. I like Thomas Hardy as a novelist. He occupies the foremost place among the ‘tragic’ novelists of England. Though Hardy is a realist, there is a delicacy and beauty in his realism; I do not find any coarse brutality and indelicacy which is the feature of French realists. His novels are not ‘the meat market of middle-aged sensuality’. His novels are not mere fictions of his imagination.
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I find in them all the various Experiences of his earlier years, molded to artistic perfection. His novels are based to a large extent upon his personal observation and experience. Hardy has gone into the secrets of the human heart. His deep insight into the life of the men of Dorset stands him in good stead. His characters move and behave with such inbounding reality that we are forced to admire Hardy’s mastery in this art. As an interpreter of character, Hardy excels in his insight into the intricacies of the feminine heart. His women are full of tenderness and full of caprice. Whatever their station in life, they never lack attraction. Hardy is primarily interested in the emotion of love as the mainspring of human life. He finds that women are more swayed by it than men. That is why there is hardly a single example of an intellectual woman in his novels. All his young women are in the grip of passion and are likely to be victims of their own affectionate heart. Next to the heroines are the rustics, the farmers and shepherds who draw my attention. His pictures of rural England and his portraits of its wise, honest country folk are charming to the last degree. They give us an inexhaustible fund of harmless and whole-some delight. The novels of Hardy are unparalleled for their artistic perfection both in plot and atmosphere. The sequence of event seems to follow with logical exactness. Even the duration of action is marked out with precision. The atmosphere of Greek tragedy pervades every one of his tragic novels. The greatness of Hardy consists not in the atmosphere 0f his novels or in the characterization or in refreshing humour but in his outlook on life. To him life is the struggle of individual human wills against the powers that rule the world. Those powers are indifferent to human beings who appear to be crushed by a superior force.
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