Probably the various conclusions I have drawn do not greatly affect the common view of Hardy. The most obvious inference from limited inventiveness is that he wrote too much; and, after all, his short stories, half his novels and The Dynasts remain commonly unread, and critics have largely ignored the minor novels and advised us not to read more than twenty, or fifteen, or a dozen of his poems.1 And if he is uninventive he is also, obviously, highly inventive. Furthermore it is commonly agreed that realism, the standpoint from which his limitations as a social critic and Victorian thinker must be discussed, is not the whole story. And the common reader does not concern himself with the influence of Schopenhauer or Comte. However, some criticism of Hardy uses ideas which might be held to render my conclusions entirely beside the mark: the ideas of development, form, myth, ballad, poetic structure and “substance not manners”.
KeywordsEter Ghost Pier Heroine Verse
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