Today for your listening pleasure are the subtle sounds of a sonata for Viola da Gamba and Harpsichord by J.S. Bach. Many of the commentators have praised this interpretation because the gamba does not overshadow the harpsichord, which allows for a true three-part counterpoint (you can hear all the melody lines clearly).
This is the second biography I've read of Hardy and I have one more on my biography bookcase (yes, I have devoted an entire book case to biographies and it doesn't even include my shelf of composer biographies. That's in another room.). One wonders how many biographies one needs to read of a writer who is not even a favorite. The problem is I can never stop at one, because I like to get different perspectives, hoping that it will give me a more accurate picture of the subject. Does anyone feel the same way?
Thomas Hardy: A Biography Revisited by Michael Millgate
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book was good to follow Robert Gittings' biography. I will say that Gittings' style was more colorful and he delved more into Hardy's personal life from every angle, which made it a more interesting read.
Millgate's biography focuses mostly on a chronology of Hardy's work and the details involved in getting each book published.
He touches upon Hardy's obsession with his "fantasy woman" whom he wrote into every one of his novels and barely nods at how that impacted his marriages and how it influenced the over all message in most of his stories. But he was much softer on Hardy than Gittings.
However, both discuss his self-absorption and bouts of deep depression. Lots of people suffer from depression; it's no different from any affliction: epilepsy, diabeties, and if you need to take medication for it, there is no shame in it. Some people, I think, exacerbate their conditions by not taking care of themselves, such as not eating right (diabetics) or taking their medication regularly (epileptics) and also some people are more depressed than they otherwise would be if they were not so selfish. This applies to Hardy.
He may have loved beautiful young women (his second wife was forty years younger than him and it didn't stop him from obsessing over the actresses who played his heroines or writing poetry about them) but I think he may have been toxic to them. Both his wives became chronically ill, probably made worse because he refused to spend any money on them or allow them to get medical help until it was too late.
But he is unique in that he was not only a preeminent Victorian author, but because of his great age, he lived to lead the school of modern expressionism in poetry. He was the inspiration to Virginia Woolf, T.S. Eliot and the rest of the Bloomsbury Circle. As far as I know he is the only British writer to cross the bridge from the 19th century to 20th century styles. In fact, he helped build the bridge.
In the words of one of his publishers, "He was a great author. He was not a great man."
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