Monday, August 13, 2007

All the cold dark nights

No time this morning, so I'll just share the following reminiscence by literary critic Arthur Compton Rickett of meeting Thomas Hardy in 1909, collected in Thomas Hardy Remembered (2007), edited by Martin Ray:
When the weather was suitable Hardy would accompany a visitor down the quaint little drive to the gate. I remember one lovely September evening when he paused at the gate and looked round wistfully at the pastoral landscape. It was the first fine evening for weeks, and there was that peculiar luminosity so characteristic of the month at its best. I made some common-place remark about the beauty of the evening. Hardy shook his head gently. "Autumn," he said; "don't forget that. Winter is ahead and all the cold dark nights. Give me the roughest of spring days rather than the loveliest of autumn days, for there is death in the air."

I've sung the praises of this book briefly before, but the more I dig into it, the more fun it is. As the editor notes in his introduction, Hardy would have hated it, with its wonderfully fragmentary, yet telling impressions of him in relatively unguarded moments--but a Hardy fan is bound to love it nonetheless.

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