Thomas Hardy

= Subscribers only. Sign in here. Subscribe here.

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Thomas Hardy was born on June 2, 1840, and was assumed dead until a nurse said, “Stop a minute,” and noticed he was still alive. A sickly child, he suffered a number of incapacitating ailments throughout his life. During his convalescence from a bout of internal bleeding, he dictated much of his novel A Laodicean, which was serialized in Harper’s in 1881 and 1882, to his second wife, Florence Dugdale Hardy. He died of pleurisy on January 11, 1928.

Hardy’s first and last literary efforts were in poetry, but during his lifetime his novels garnered more attention. Scandalous for their depictions of embattled British classes, sexual and spiritual desire, and the oppression of women, they were deemed by the British press to be “titanically bad,” “like one prolonged scolding from beginning to end,” and “a desperate remedy for an emaciated purse.”

In 1874, Far from the Madding Crowd was published; a novel about a farm owner in rural England and her three suitors, it contains passages on murder, illegitimacy, mass sheep death by cliff jumping, and the relevance of love to marriage. Hardy later attempted to sell serialization rights for his novel The Trumpet-Major (1880) to Blackwood’s by assuring the magazine’s publisher that it was “above all things a cheerful story, without views or opinions.” Tess of the d’Urbervilles was published in 1891, receiving, like most of his work, extreme condemnation and approbation.

Jude the Obscure (1895) was serialized in Harper’s from 1894 to 1895, in a version in which Jude Fawley and Sue Bridehead do not consummate their relationship. Two months before the revised novel went to print, Hardy danced for the last time, under a full moon at Larmer Tree, which, according to his de facto autobiography, “left him stiff in the knees for some succeeding days.” When the novel was published the following year, the Bishop of Wakefield tossed his copy into the fire, and Hardy regularly received envelopes containing ashes from other readers. He decided never to write another novel again.

For the rest of his life Hardy focused on his poetry, which would prove foundational to the work of Philip Larkin and The Movement, among others. He produced eleven volumes in the thirty years between the publication of Wessex Poems (1898) and the posthumously published Winter Words in Various Moods and Metres (1928). He wished to be buried in Stinsford, southwest England, where he was born, with the graves of his ancestors and first wife; but Florence Dugdale Hardy attested to a compromise “found between this definite personal wish and the nation’s claim to the ashes of a great poet”: his heart was removed from his body and placed inside a casket in a Stinsford churchyard, while the rest of his body was cremated and buried in Westminster Abbey.

From the Archive — From the November 2017 issue

Two and Two

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Poetry — From the March 1928 issue

“A gentleman’s second-hand suit”

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Poetry — From the June 1925 issue

Circus-rider to ringmaster (Casterbridge Fair)

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Poetry — From the December 1913 issue

The telegram

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Poetry — From the December 1912 issue

The Abbey mason

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Inventor of the “perpendicular” style of Gothic architecture

Poetry — From the December 1911 issue

Night in a suburb (near Tooting Common)

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Get access to 169 years of
Harper’s for only $23.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

June 2019

Downstream

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Stonewall at Fifty

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Maid’s Story

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Is Poverty Necessary?

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
Is Poverty Necessary?·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

In 1989 I published a book about a plutonium-producing nuclear complex in En­gland, on the coast of the Irish Sea. The plant is called Sellafield now. In 1957, when it was the site of the most serious nuclear accident then known to have occurred, the plant was called Windscale. While working on the book, I learned from reports in the British press that in the course of normal functioning it released significant quantities of waste—plutonium and other transuranic elements—into the environment and the adjacent sea. There were reports of high cancer rates. The plant had always been wholly owned by the British government. I believe at some point the government bought it from itself. Privatization was very well thought of at the time, and no buyer could be found for this vast monument to dinosaur modernism.

Back then, I shared the American assumption that such things were dealt with responsibly, or at least rationally, at least in the West outside the United States. Windscale/Sellafield is by no means the anomaly I thought it was then. But the fact that a government entrusted with the well-being of a crowded island would visit this endless, silent disaster on its own people was striking to me, and I spent almost a decade trying to understand it. I learned immediately that the motives were economic. What of all this noxious efflux they did not spill they sold into a global market.

Article
More Than a Data Dump·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Last fall, a court filing in the Eastern District of Virginia inadvertently suggested that the Justice Department had indicted WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. The Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and other outlets reported soon after that Assange had likely been secretly indicted for conspiring with his sources to publish classified government material and hacked documents belonging to the Democratic National Committee, among other things.

Article
Stonewall at Fifty·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Early in the morning on June 28, 1969, New York police raided the Stonewall Inn at 53 Christopher Street, the city’s most popular gay bar. The police had raided Stonewall frequently since its opening two years before, but the local precinct usually tipped off the management and arrived in the early evening. This time they came unannounced, during peak hours. They swept through the bar, checking I.D.s and arresting anyone wearing attire that was not “appropriate to one’s gender,” carrying out the law of the time. Eyewitness accounts differ on what turned the unruly scene explosive. Whatever the inciting event, patrons and a growing crowd on the street began throwing coins, bottles, and bricks at the police, who were forced to retreat into the bar and call in the riot squad.

Article
Downstream·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The squat warehouse at Miami’s 5th Street Terminal was nearly obscured by merchandise: used car engines; tangles of coat hangers; bicycles bound together with cellophane; stacks of wheelbarrows; cases of Powerade and bottled water; a bag of sprouting onions atop a secondhand Whirlpool refrigerator; and, above all, mattresses—shrink-wrapped and bare, spotless and streaked with dust, heaped in every corner of the lot—twins, queens, kings. All this and more was bound for Port-de-Paix, a remote city in northwestern Haiti.

When I first arrived at the warehouse on a sunny morning last May, a dozen pickup trucks and U-Hauls were waiting outside, piled high with used furniture. Nearby, rows of vehicles awaiting export were crammed together along a dirt strip separating the street from the shipyard, where a stately blue cargo vessel was being loaded with goods.

Article
Warm, Weird, Effervescent·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

In Lore Segal’s short story “The Reverse Bug,” a teacher named Ilka Weisz invites her conversational En­glish class to a panel at a Connecticut think tank: “?‘Should there be a statute of limitations on genocide?’ with a wine and cheese reception.” The class is made up of immigrants to the United States. Although Segal doesn’t give a date, we are to understand that most came several decades earlier as a result of World War II: Gerti Gruner, who recently arrived in the United States from Vienna, by way of Montevideo, and can’t stop talking about her lost cousins; the moody Paulino from La Paz, whose father disappeared in the American Consulate; and the mysterious Japanese Matsue, who tells them that he worked in a Munich firm “employed in soundproofing the Dachau ovens so that what went on inside could not be heard on the outside.” He’s since been working at the think tank on a “reverse bug,” a technological device that brings sound from the outside in. The class takes advantage of his poor En­glish to ignore what he is saying.

Cost of renting a giant panda from the Chinese government, per day:

$1,500

A recent earthquake in Chile was found to have shifted the city of Concepción ten feet to the west, shortened Earth’s days by 1.26 microseconds, and shifted the planet’s axis by nearly three inches.

Gene Simmons of the band Kiss addressed Department of Defense personnel in the Pentagon Briefing Room.

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

Happiness Is a Worn Gun

By

“Nowadays, most states let just about anybody who wants a concealed-handgun permit have one; in seventeen states, you don’t even have to be a resident. Nobody knows exactly how many Americans carry guns, because not all states release their numbers, and even if they did, not all permit holders carry all the time. But it’s safe to assume that as many as 6 million Americans are walking around with firearms under their clothes.”

Subscribe Today