Reading Thomas Hardy: Selected Poems

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Humanities-Ebooks, Jan 1, 2012 - History - 114 pages
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Thomas Hardy is unique in English literature as a major novelist who is also a major poet. His collected poetry is among the most distinctive bodies of verse in the language, and includes such pinnacles of the lyric tradition as ‘The Darkling Thrush’ and the series of haunted love-elegies written in memory of his first wife Emma and such instantly recognizable titles as ‘Drummer Hodge’, ‘A Trampwoman’s Tragedy’, ‘Convergence of the Twain’. It is also among the most controversial. Ever since his poetry first appeared in the collection Wessex Poems in 1898, readers and critics alike have stumbled over its awkwardnesses or been seduced by its idiosyncratic music, have celebrated its unprecedented formal inventiveness or deplored its perceived lack of ambition. It has been variously read as an archetype of the Victorian intellectual odyssey, as the work of a proto-modernist, and as the fountainhead of contemporary British verse. At once traditional and modern, the acme of artifice and a conduit of intense emotion, it remains a critical enigma. This exemplary study guide seeks to set Hardy’s poetry in the context of his life, times and literary heritage, and to understand, through a close reading of selected poems, both the challenge it offers to criticism and the elusive power it continues to exert over each new generation of readers. All his collections are introduced including Wessex Poems, Poems of the Past and Present, Time’s Laughingstocks, Satires of Circumstance, Moments of Vision, Late Lyrics and Earlier, Human Shows and Winter Words.

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The Author
1 Hardy in his Time
2 Collecting Old Poems and Making New
3 Reading Hardys Poetry
4 Hardy and the Critics
5 Glossary
6 Bibliography
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About the author (2012)

Neil Wenborn is a freelance writer and publishing consultant and has published widely both in Britain and in the United States. His works include biographies of Haydn, Stravinsky and Dvořák. He is co-editor of the highly respected History Today Companion to British History (Collins & Brown) and A Dictionary of Jewish - Christian Relations (Cambridge University Press). A collection of his poetry, Firedoors, is published by Rockingham Press.

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