Despite thinking of himself as a poet and abandoning prose fiction later in his career, Thomas Hardy is considered one of the crucial novelists of the last three decades of the 19th century. This volume concerns several of his best novels, including Far from the Madding Crowd, The Return of the Native, The Mayor of Casterbridge, Tess of the d'Urbervilles, and Jude the Obscure. Critical analysis is offered by numerous authorities on the subject.
Critical analysis of "Hap" -- Critical views on "Hap." Joanna Cullen Brown on the rhetoric of the mechanical universe ; Dennis Taylor on the language of personification ; Robert Langbaum on Hardy's late romanticism ; Paul Zeitlow on the dramatic posturing of the speaker -- Critical analysis of "Neutral tones" -- Critical views on "Neutral tones." Samuel Hynes on the characteristics of Hardy's mature style ; J. O. Bailey on "Neutral tones" as a poem about ruins ; Trevor Johnson on hopelessness and disillusion ; Dennis Taylor on Hardy's word game ; Robert Langbaum on Hardy's modernism -- Critical analysis of "During wind and rain" -- Critical views on "During wind and rain." Samuel Hynes on the imagery of tone ; Geoffrey Harvey on the universality of lived experience ; Joanna Cullen Brown on journey through the stages of life ; U. C. Knoepflmacher on autobiographical details ; John Paul Riquelme on the influence of Shelley ; John Hughes on music as a link to the transcendent -- Critical analysis of "The convergence of the twain" -- Critical views on "The convergence of the twain." Samuel Hynes on elements of contradiction ; William H. Pritchard on Hardy's inventiveness ; Patricia Clements on the exclusion of consciousness ; Joanna Cullen Brown on the sensuality of "Convergence of the twain" ; Tim Armstrong on fate and human error -- Critical analysis of "The darkling thrush" -- Critical views on "The darkling thrush." Merryn Williams on the influence of Keats and Shelley ; John Bayley on Hardy's treatment of birds ; Geoffrey Harvey on "The darkling thrush" as a modern lament ; Robert Langbaum on Hardy's response to Keats and Shelley ; Brian Green on the speaker's emotional state ; Peter Widdowson on the status of despair ; Barbara Hardy on "The darkling thrush" as a threshold poem ; John Hughes on Hardy's ambivalent attitude towards music -- Critical analysis of "Afterwards" -- Critical views on "Afterwards." Merryn Williams on curious optimism ; Trevor Johnson on Hardy's family history ; Barbara Hardy on Hardy's modest self-elegy.