Back to Basic

Thomas Hardy is the first name that pops up in my mind when I am about to write a graduating paper back in the last two semesters of the university period. The major reason is ridiculous. I really like his last name: Hardy, which is almost the same with my relative’s Hardi. I know that’s irrelevant.

Anyway…I search for his books in the faculty library then find dozens of titles. Other reason is that I am curious about the writer since his books are not discussed in novel or literary subjects in the classes.

I cancel to talk about Hardy’s novels or poems eventually. Not because of his thick books or French titles, but because I don’t see any relevance between old values in classic readings and modern problems. I don’t even know yet indicators that put certain books into classic category. What makes them classic anyway?

So, I choose a famous drama called Cat In A Hot Tin Roof by US-playwright Tennessee Williams. The reason is simple. The drama presents post modern matters — loneliness, materialism, prejudice, social labeling, lack of love, and even homosexuality. So, I guess those problems are best to be the core of my papers. I bring up major themes on the falsehood of leading characters in the drama. Each of them hide their actual pain in their struggle for financial security or material fulfilment. At the end, honesty hurts so bad but worth knowing. I love this kind of themes: honesty versus social constraints. I set aside old topics in classic novels like gender inequality or caste problems in the 18th or 19th centuries simply because they pose no threats in modern human beings. Loneliness and social recognition do present real obstacles.

I continue reading post modern books later on. John Steinbeck is my beloved writer or all time, at least until now. He brings up social problems commonly faced by laymen during his life in the early of 1990s. Economic hardship, American dream, and women role often come up in his novels. His books are very real. What he writes may occur in any kind of society we live on. That’s why he is said to be the most daring author for American people at that time, may be until the time being.

That is why I search for similar writers like he is for my reading reference. My choice falls on Indian writers. The reason is the same. I am hungry for realistic problems in the society.I dislike imaginary world thus I don’t read Harry Potter or Lord of The Rings. I select Arundhati Roy, Jhumpa Lahiri, Aravind Adiga, and Amitav Ghosh. India has such amazing writers. They speak about cultural identity, caste curse, poverty, corruption, and even politic in a witty and brave language. After six books I am fed up. I need a fresh kind of reading. I’ll never know that my choice is back to those ancient books once I see Thomas Hardy’s Jude The Obscure that is written in interesting fonts that encourage me to read some pages of it. I do not buy the book because I already know the story plot.Instead, I select Far From The Madding Crowd. First few pages of the book already dazzle me. Very beautiful words, deeply moving story. Even if it tells us about a love story, I don’t mind due to its clear descriptions of all. Landscape, people, emotions.

Throughout the book, I want to slowly read, digest, then imagine how beautiful all scenery is. I wish I can see how those characters dress, act, and communicate each other. All words are powerfully created to bring up such amazing book. On the surface, perhaps the book doesn’t portray different theme but it takes a very careful learning to really understand what lay beneath them all.

I am going to say the book is more than a love story. It gives us a broad issue on how low women position at that time back in the middle of the 19th century. Bathsheba Everdene is such a breakthrough character. She lives in her own way and is sometimes against people’ views. She really believes in her own voice. She rejects two marriage proposals, an uncommon deed from women at that time. she does what men can do except in some jobs that require more physical skills. That is the most universal theme. Even feminism or gender equality already persist in the UK in the era. When they are no longer problems in the country, some still face them.

Apart from larger issue, the book also presents individual yet very close matters that we may face. And this what makes my previous view is completely wrong. The book already comes up with faith, infidelity, social constrain related problems. Along with wonderful description on the background of the story, the novel becomes so rich. Now, I know what makes it as a classic. It stands against the test of the time. It has an everlasting issue that may influence modern writer. And one thing that I rarely find in modern writer that is obvious depictions written in flowery words. You may call them as an exaggeration but still…once you absord the words, you don’t want to finish them. Or once you complete reading them, you want to go back and reread them.

So, I guess it’s time for me to back to the period when I am forced to read classics. But this time being, I feel no pressures from my lecturers. I will read classics with all of my heart. Aside from fulfilling emotional need, I am eager to learn history from them.

For the last part of the crap, I’d like to present a brief birography of Thomas Hardy:

Thomas Hardy was born at Higher Bockhampton, Dorset, on June 2, 1840. His father teaches him a lot on music while his mother gives him a knowledge on learning about his rural home. As a frail child, he could start schooling at eight years old. He moved to London for a brief time given his poor health. He returned to Dorset after his earlier writings were rejected by publishers.

In 1870, he met Emma Gifford whom encouraged him to write again. They got married in 1874. His first novel Desperate Remedies was published in 1871 but brought no success. In the following year, he finally gained a massive acclaim through Under the Greenwood Tree, featuring his childhood place. This made him to write a serialized novel called A Pair of Blue Eyes that drew his relationship with Emma. His financial success that made him leaving architectural practice is Far from the Madding Crowd. The Hardys lived in London for a short time then moved to Sturminster Newton where he wrote Return of the Native, considered many as one of his most enduring works. In 1885, he created

The Mayor of Casterbridge, then The Woolanders a year later. Many considered Tess of The d’Urbervilles as his finest work.
His most controversial work is Jude The Obscure (1896) that tells about a love scandal. This outraged Victoria morality and was regarded as an attack toward the institution of marriage. Its publication led to a rift between him and Emma.

For the rest of his life, he focused his work on poetry, one of which was Wessex Poems (1898). Emma died in 1912. Hardy remarried to Florance Dugdale in 1914. He died in 1928.

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