Welcome to 'Joy Lies Slain,' a blog dedicated to the systematic study and exploration of the life, writing and legacy of writer Thomas Hardy. I suppose that the first question that might occur to someone stumbling upon this blog for the first time is, "Why Hardy?"
|The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: |
Print Collection, The New York Public Library. "Thomas Hardy"
The New York Public Library Digital Collections.
Of course, any writer has the power to create a character and then destroy it. What got me so deeply was the obvious affection that the author had for his protagonist. Jude was a lovable character. He strove. He made bad decisions but almost always for the right reasons. His life was brutish and short, filled with horrors I couldn't fathom experiencing. Hardy's writing was lyrical, bursting with lavish descriptions of nature, people, places, buildings and it made me want, despite the steep downward vector of Jude's own fortune, to step into that place and become a part of it. That was his genius to me then, that juxtaposition of the achingly beautiful and the soul-crushingly depraved.
In the years since, I've re-read Jude many times, taking something different yet no less vital from it with each return to Wessex. I've read quite a few of Hardy's other novels and been a student of his poetry. Of late, I've found myself thinking of the man and his work quite a bit and, after some deliberation, decided to take a journey in tribute to all that I feel Hardy's writing has done for me.
'Joy Lies Slain' has a five year mission. I'm going to read all of Hardy's novels and poetry in the order they were published and write about it. Along the way, I'm going to dive deep into works that have sprung up around his legacy including: biographies; critical writing; work by authors who were an influence or upon whom Hardy had a recognizable influence; as well as films and music drawn from his work.
And, in the summer of that fifth year, I will take a trip to Dorset in the West Country of England, with my wife and daughter, and finally have my chance to look through the window of time at the places that set my imagination on fire all those years ago.
I know that's a bold proclamation and five years is a long time. I have no idea what Fate has planned for me but I can't think of anything I'd rather accomplish in those five years than drilling deep into the work of my favorite writer and sharing my findings with all who derive pleasure from such things.
I think it's going to be fun.
Reading:Thomas Hardy: A Biography Revisited by Michael Millgate
On Deck: Desperate Remedies (Novel 01)
Listening to: Hossein Alizadeh's Weaving the Garden