Quote of the Day: Claire Tomalin

Self is about halfway through Claire Tomalin’s biography of Thomas Hardy.  She hasn’t been able to read much, the last few days, what with all the writing she’s been doing, but she stays up late reading as much as she can.  It turns out that Thomas Hardy, author of, among others, The Mayor of Casterbridge, Jude the Obscure, and Tess of the D’Urbervilles, was “a man with civic responsibilities.”  And yet

More than most writers he knew how to keep an absolute division, a closed and barred door between the polite and quietly spoken person who enjoyed London society and dispensed justice in Dorchester, and the raging, wounded inner self who chastised the values of the world he inhabited.

About the books, Tomalin writes:  ” …  the Hardy who moved between his London club, visits to distinguished friends and a home well staffed with servants is not easy to connect with them.”

Paul Fussell, whose The Great War and Modern Memory self re-read just a few weeks ago (The first time was in grad school at Stanford, under the great Prof. Albert Guerard, and she hung on to her grad school copy —  the margins are filled with self’s annotations, OMG), begins his book by talking about how Hardy’s writerly attitude seemed to presage the modern mind-set (bleakness, anomie, and so forth) that World War I ushered in.  So, even though this biography of Thomas Hardy does not rise to the greatness of Tomalin’s previous Samuel Pepys:  The Unequalled Self, it is nevertheless fascinating.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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