Posts Tagged ‘Thomas Hardy’

Hidden Hope

Thursday, December 31st, 2020

Thomas Hardy’s life had its share of contradiction. Best known today for his novels, he considered himself first and foremost a poet. Long estranged from his first wife, Emma Gifford, he realized after her death in 1912 that he had, in fact, truly loved her. A passionate critic of class based social restrictions, he died a wealthy man in 1928. Adamant that he be buried with his wife in the village of Stinsford, Dorsetshire, his ashes were instead interred at Poets’ Corner in Westminster. Yet in a compromise between his executor and his family, his physical heart was buried in St. Michael’s churchyard, Stinsford, near Emma’s grave.

Raised in the Anglican tradition, Hardy maintained an emotional attachment to church ritual while abandoning his belief in God. His novels’ main characters, doomed by fate to tragic ends, embody Hardy’s dark vision of life. He was keenly interested in ghosts, desperately sought evidence for life after death, and wrote of overpowering and indifferent forces controlling human lives by chance or whim. This odd assortment of disbelief and credulity, not unusual among late Victorian writers, afforded Hardy space to entertain doubts about his doubt.