Victorian novels have:
1.) a linear narrative
2.) plots centering around individuals either growing up or coming apart
3.) characters in whom readers can invest large emotional capital
4.) clear resolutions that give emotional pleasure
Most of these novels were first published monthly, either in magazines or in freestanding installments. It often took two years to read the entire book. So authors needed great continuity, memorable characters (often with odd names, weird quirks, grotesque appearances or goofy catchphrases). The plot must be the driving force, with cliff-hangers at the end of the episode and a recap at the beginning of the next episode.
These forms of story were very popular. Subscriptions could jump by tens of thousands during the run of a particularly exciting new novel. Bookstalls could be picked clean in an hour. Some authors became very rich from these serialized novels. Thomas Hardy was on of them.
The formula for Victorian literature gives some of the reasons that I love these books. But I also really enjoy the syntax. Thomas Hardy can put a sentence together in a magical way! Of course, his vocabulary far exceeds anything I can imagine and sometimes I read with the dictionary beside me. Most often, though, the manageable 'Oxford' is not sufficient and I need to get the unmanageable two-volume dictionary from the shelf. But I love the words!
Thomas Hardy is perhaps best known for his description of place. I love, love, love England! Perhaps because both of my parents were born there. When I visited, I was enthralled with the countryside. In my mind, I could see Hardy's characters walking across the moors and it thrilled me!
Here are some pictures of my visit:
Hardy always thought of himself as a poet. He wrote poems, on and off, for nearly seventy years, resulting in almost a thousand poems. He was about to issue a new volume of poems when he died at 88.
But I am interested in his novels. He wrote fourteen novels and I have discovered that, although they are not all available in the library system, you can buy them from the internet.
Hardy's family were not able to send him to university, so he
became apprenticed to an architect who specialized in church
restoration. However, the weather in London did not agree with him
and he returned home to the country where he began to write.
Hardy was married twice but had no children. His ashes were
buried in the Poet's Corner of Westminster Abbey.