A Commentary (Mar 1928)
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366 ] A Commentary The Monthly Criterion: A Literary Review, 7 (Mar 1928) 193-94 How They Buried Thomas Hardy Since our last Commentary was written, Thomas Hardy has died and has been buried.1 Whenever a great man dies, a great deal of nonsense is written; a great deal was written about Thomas Hardy; we cannot undertake here to separate the wheat from the chaff. We have only three remarks to make. First, this recent event does not alter the opinions which we expressed in the January Commentary.2 Second, if any man was ever worthy to be buried in the Abbey on the ground of literary greatness alone, then there is no question that the author of The Dynasts, The Mayor of Casterbridge, and A Group of Noble Dames deserved to be buried there.3 And on the third point we do not believe that disagreement is possible. We hope sincerely that the manner in which Hardy was interred will not be allowed to establish a precedent for the burial of other great men. We continue to hope that in the future as in the immediate past our great men will be buried in one place instead of being dismembered in a fashion intolerable in any society which is not given over to idolatry of relics and fetishes. Britain and M. Siegfried M. André Siegfried, who last year distinguished himself by a remarkable book on contemporary America, has recently written for The Times an interesting series of articles to which we must call attention.4 We cannot here develop a criticism of a thesis to which we hope that we may later recur at more length. But M. Siegfried’s theory is briefly this: Britain is related on the one hand to the rest of Europe and on the other hand to an Empire which from a cultural point of view, includes the United States of America. To M. Siegfried it seems that Britain must choose between Europe and an imperial non-European group. M. Siegfried having thus set the question naturally hopes that Britain will elect to remain in association with Europe. To us, the question does not set itself in the same way. To us, it is rather a question of whether Britain will persist in that policy of via media which she has pursued for several centuries. To our mind, the peculiar position of Britain is this: that she is on the one hand a part of Europe. But not only a [ 367 A Commentary (Mar) part, she is a mediating part: for Britain is the bridge between Latin culture and Germanic culture in both of which she shares. But Britain is not only the bridge, the middle way, between two parts of western Europe; she is, or should be, by virtue of the fact that she is the only member of the European communitythathasestablishedagenuineempire–thatistosay,aworld-wide empire as was the Roman empire – not only European but the connection between Europe and the rest of the world. A New Form of Literary Prize Public attention in Italy was directed two months ago to a new literary prize, awarded to our contributor, G. B. Angioletti, for his prose book, Il Giorno del Giudizio.5 We offer Mr. Angioletti our warmest congratulations. Notes 1. After Hardy’s death on 11 Jan 1928 in Dorset, his heart was removed and buried on the groundsofStinsfordParishChurch,withthegravestonemarked“HereLiestheHeartofThomas Hardy”; his ashes were buried in Poets’ Corner, Westminster Abbey, on 16 Jan. 2. TSE’s “Commentary” of Jan 1928 addresses a proposed extension to Westminster Abbey following the discovery “that the space in the Abbey for interring great men would soon be exhausted.” His focus is on “how best the Abbey may be preserved as an historical monument of great symbolic value and of aesthetic interest; having regard also to the public ceremonies for which the Abbey is the traditional and appropriate scene” (3.318). 3. Hardy’s The Dynasts, an epic drama in verse of the war with Napoleon, appeared in three volumes (1904-08); his novel The Mayor of Casterbridge appeared in 1886; his collection of short stories A Group of Noble Dames, in 1891. TSE first discussed the novel in his review of H. C. Duffin’s study of the Wessex novels (1.404), included it on the syllabus for his 1917 course on ModernEnglishLiterature(1.591),anddescribeditinhisPage-Barbourlecturesashis“finestnovel as a whole” (ASG 56). In “‘The Duchess of Malfi’ at the Lyric: and Poetic Drama” (1919), he...