The Inestimably Subtle Man of Letters’ Essay

The Inestimably Subtle Man of Letters’ Essay

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Today, Thomas Hardy’s position as a poet is as secure as his position as a novelist. Critics and scholars have started approaching his creative genius in the two different literary genres differently. It would be unreasonable to trust anyone who may still believe that Hardy, the novelist, was more Victorian than Hardy the poet, who allegedly was closer to the moderns. It has been established that Hardy had started writing poems even before he tried his hand at novel writing. Indeed, even when his career as a novelist was soaring, Hardy, the poet, wrote as a contemporary to Hardy the novelist. Many of his poems, that have been dated, confirm this. Hardy scholars have also tried to find similarities between the themes of his novels and poems. They seem to have overlooked the fact that similar emotions expressed in two different literary genres yield distinct effects, both for the author and the reader. That Hardy found more solace while expressing himself in poetry needs no proof due to his disowning the tag of a novelist and his desire to be remembered as a poet. Thus, while approaching Hardy’s poetry one needs to purposefully digress from the traditional path of viewing him as a popular novelist who also wrote poems or a poet at heart who considered his novel writing as ‘pot-boiler’. This neat dissection of Hardy’s literary genius, into two separate parts, may hinder a comprehensive analysis. On the other hand, a see-saw approach that alternatively draws inspiration and instances from both the novels and the poems, at will, can also persuade scholars to seek identical perceptions in the two distinct genres.

Critics are discovering daily just what an inestimably subtle man of letters Thomas Hardy really was. He positioned him...

... middle of paper ...

...logy Hardy in parenthesis.)
Thomas Hardy ‘The Temporary the All’ in The Works of Thomas Hardy (Hertfordshire: Wordsworth Editions Ltd., 1994) p.5. (All further citations to Thomas Hardy’s poems refer to this edition, unless otherwise stated, and are referred to as CP, in parenthesis)
William Wordsworth ‘Preface to Lyrical Ballads’ in D. J. Enright & Ernst De Chichera eds. English Critical Texts: 16th Century to 20th Century (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1992), p. 166. (All further citations from this preface are from this edition and are referred to as Preface Wordsworth in parenthesis.)
Samuel Taylor Coleridge Biographia Literaria in D. J. Enright & Ernst De Chichera eds. English Critical Texts: 16th Century to 20th Century (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1992), p. 191.
Cited in G. W. E. Russell Matthew Arnold (, 2007), p. 9

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