Thursday, January 06, 2011

Thomas Hardy on Women, Men, Love, and Marriage

Stonington, Connecticut resident Bill Emberton gave a wonderful talk on the British novelist and poet Thomas Hardy and his first wife, Emma, at the Stonington Free Library on January 6, 2011. Evidently, Hardy had a somewhat cynical view of women, men, love, and the institution of marriage. The passages below are from three of Hardy’s early novels and were presented in a slide from Bill's talk.

Desperate Remedies (1871)

How exquisite a sweetheart is at first! Perhaps . . . the only bliss in the course of love which can truly be called Eden-like is that which prevails immediately after doubt has ended and before reflection has set in—at the dawn of the emotion, when it is not recognized by name, and before the consideration of what this love is, has given birth to the consideration of what difficulties it tends to create. . . .

A Pair of Blue Eyes (1873)

Every woman who makes a permanent impression on a man is usually recalled to his mind’s eye as she appeared in one particular scene, which seems ordained to be her special form of manifestation throughout the pages of his memory.

Far from the Madding Crowd (1874)

It appears that ordinary men take wives because possession is not possible without marriage, and that ordinary women accept husbands because marriage is not possible without possession; with totally differing aims the method is the same on both sides.

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