Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
An arts podcast from Loyal Books
This story opens with a lovely, poor and proud young woman who lives with her aunt. The young woman saves the life of a farmer who subsequently falls in love with her. However, the young woman inherits a fortune and moves away.
On the flip side the farmer loses everything he has and travels around the country seeking employment. One evening the farmer helps to put out a blazing fire in a lonely farm. When the veiled owner comes out to thank him, he discovers that she is none other than the beautiful woman who once rejected him and moved away.
Thomas Hardy was brought up in rural Dorset and was the son of a humble stonemason. He suffered from life long ill health and was schooled at home till he was sixteen. He then trained to be an architect and began writing poetry. He wrote his first novel The Poor Man and The Lady in 1867 but met with little success. Hardy destroyed the manuscript and worked on two others which were published but anonymously. In 1873, he published A Pair of Blue Eyes, to which he put his own name and this book was relatively more successful. In fact the term, “cliff-hanger” which refers to stories in which the reader is left in suspense till the next chapter originated with the book which originally appeared in serial form in a magazine.
Far From the Madding Crowd was Hardy’s fourth novel and gave him his first taste of literary and commercial success. It also laid the foundation for several themes that Hardy would continue to use. The concept of Wessex itself was an important Hardy motif in which he contrasts the rural setting against a rapidly industrializing urban England. In many of his novels, his characters are unable to stem the flow of events. The effects of overwhelming passion, women’s rights, society’s constraints and demands which clash with individual wants and desires, are some of the themes explored in his work.
The beautiful and proud Bathsheba Everdene, Gabriel Oak, the man who loves her, the rich, lonely and strait laced William Boldwood, the dashing and debonair Sergeant Troy, the tragic Fanny Robin are all memorable characters who make Far From the Madding Crowd an absorbing and thought provoking read.
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