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HUMANITIES 429 by sketching some orchises, but he confessed it to his Diary (ii, 535) not his father: religion was giving place to Art. His unconversion took place in the Waldensian Chapel in Turin on 1 August: 'Protestantism clumsily triumphant ... building itself vulgar churches with nobody to put into them, is a very disagreeable form of piety. Execrable sermon; - cold singing ... a dirty Turinois here and there spitting over large fields of empty pew: Ruskin found comfort instead in Veronese, either before (Fors Clavigera, no 76) or after (Praeterita) that sermon; and 'that day, my evangelical beliefs were put away, to be debated no more: But they lingered on in residual form until at least September in Paris: 'I never was present at so disgraceful an English service as this morning ... The sermon worse than the church - utterly abominable and sickening in its badness: And, as usual, Ruskin fled to art: 'I went away straight to the Louvre. 1 When Dickens tried to clarify his marital relations with a letter to the Times, Ruskin says revealingly, 'Charles Dickens very strange - so is J.R: One remembers Proust: 'Et comme on a dit de Ruskin tant de choses contraires, on en a conclu qu'il etait contradictoire: (WILLIAM WHITLA) Michael Millgate. Thomas Hardy: A Biography Random House, xvi, 637, iIlus. $25.00 In the 1970s, Robert Gittings, with the inflexibility of Angel Clare judging Tess, said in effect of Hardy: 'You were one person; now you are another.' The standard approach to Hardy as the charitable countryman encumbered by an eccentric and snobbish first wife gave way, in Gittings's interpretation of a much broader base of facts, to the disturbing view that Hardy cut himself off from his native roots, cruelly ignored Emma's sufferings, and selfishly viewed life as mere material for his art. In Thomas Hardy: A Biography, Michael Millgate not only defends Hardy against these charges without losing objectivity himself, but also surpasses Gittings in scholarship to provide a comprehensive picture of the writer and an exhaustive and rewarding search for Hardy'S 'extraordinary private self: Millgate's central and persuasive claim about the mature Hardy is that his modern, middle-class life and ideas creatively coexisted with, rather than destructively opposed, his traditional attitudes and values. When he built his 'semi-urban' residence, Max Gate, he 'saw clearly that his career as a writer was founded upon his capacity to mediate between essentially rural material and a predominantly urban audience: To this end, he maintained an 'effective and, on the whole, painless division between his social life, which was to a large extent professionally oriented , and that family life on which, at the deepest emotional and creative levels, he so much depended: Instead of drifting out of touch with his 430 LEITERS IN CANADA 1982 family, he looked after his aging parents, bought a home for his sisters, and designed one for his brother. Moreover, he was never isolated at Max Gate: he participated in local affairs as a Justice of the Peace and a Governor of the Dorchester Grammar School. and for years spent every 'season' in London, not for snobbish reasons, but primarily to keep abreast of changes in the world of his readers, publishers, editors, and reviewers. Hardy's decision not to break with his past, even at the expense of his marital obligations, reveals the tenacity of his mother's hold on him. More than any previous biographer, Millgate illuminates the pre-school years when Hardy was most emotionally dependent on his mother, years that were 'far and away the most Significant for his later career as a novelist and poet.' Jemima created a tension in her son between upward mobility and family loyalty that, following his marriage, could be relaxed only by the pattern of life he chose at Max Gate. More important, his mother was one of the 'gifted narrators' who made him a 'child of the oral tradition' and, eventually, a writer whose 'best work tends to have strong and specific roots in his own background and experience.' 'Indeed , the distinction between the minor fiction and the major fiction falls precisely: Millgate argues, 'at the line of demarcation between...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 429-431
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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