Traveller's tales

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Max Gate, Thomas Hardy's house outside Dorchester

Tramping the highways and byways of Hardy's Wessex, that portion within the beautiful country of Dorset, I found myself following in the footsteps of Tess, Eustacia Vye, and Fanny Robin.

In the pages of Hardy's novels, this part of England: its people and their ways, their loves and losses, and their tragedies comes alive.

But Max Gate, the house Hardy built and lived in before his death is different. It forms no part of the landscape he peopled with the rustics and squires of the day. This was Hardy's last home in an age of arguably greater reflection and pastoral stability.

It was into this world that he led us through thwarted ambition, unrequited love, and opportunities missed; a world that many would probably wish we could return to despite the personal tragedies and disappointments that fell from the pages of his great works, for in terms of personal relationships, nothing has really changed, which is why Hardy's tales still make valid comment on the most human of all our traits, the desire to love and be loved.
Robert L. Fielding

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