A Survey of Recent Hardy Studies
The review-essay is a seductive medium in which the writer may exercise his idiosyncrasies, prejudices or enthusiasms under the banner of scholarly objectivity. It is instructive to compare the attitudes and practice of three distinguished recent exponents of the form. Graham Hough, in ‘Embarrassed’ (1982), starts from the even proposition that ‘there has been an abundance of good critical writing about Thomas Hardy, from Lionel Johnson in 1894 to our own day’, and goes on to give an urbane yet searching account of several recent studies. John Bayley, in ‘His Eye for the Ladies’ (1982), reminding us that ‘Hardy’s imagination was always in the intellectual forefront of his age’, observes that ‘Hardy’s popularity still increases and his status has never been higher, even in the avant-garde circles which at one time extended to him a friendly but evident condescension.’
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