This study of Thomas Hardy provides a substantial introduction to his six major novels and his poems. It deals more briefly with the minor fiction. Hardy now seems a more important novelist and poet than at any previous time. This is only partly due to his capabilities as a social historian or provincial chronicler. Far more important is his faithful exploration of the daily trials and tragedies of men and women as feeling beings. Man and woman in love, man and woman 'up against it', are the central themes of his fiction and poetry. His ability to universalise his tragic material, in which he is akin to Shakespeare, is seen as his abiding achievement. Detailed analyses are made of some crucial passages in the major novels and a serious attempt is made to counter the proposition that Hardy 'wrote badly'.
"...a welcome and overdue attempt to provide a comprehensive assessment of the creative achivevment of West Germany's only Nobel laureate...a well-researched, tightly edited and lucidly written book, which succeeds admirably in its aims."
Frank Finlay, TLS