Picture the scene: last July I see my 2018/19 timetable in my pigeonhole. It has all my new classes, including AS Level Literature. I’m nervous – we split classes, 1 teacher teaches Othello and love poetry, the other Tess of the D’Urbervilles and unseen prose. Othello and poetry? That’s my jam. I’d feel happy there. Hardy and his endless ramblings about pastoral Wessex? Not so much… So, obviously I end up teaching Tess. Hardy and I have history and I still hadn’t quite forgiven him for autumn term in my second year at university where I spent so many hours bashing my head against Far from the Madding Crowd.
He’s one of those writers that I eyerolled about and believed his “genius” was overrated. I’ll happily admit that I’ve been wrong about Victorian Literature before (flashback to Christmas of AS year where I struggled to read Wuthering Heights, declared it nonsense… and 6 weeks later, thanks to some brilliant teaching, realised it’s the greatest love story ever) and this term I’ve realised I was wrong again. What struck me reading Tess over the holidays and again with my class is that Hardy loads his characters with allusions and ideas seen throughout Literature all the way from Ancient Greece right up to his contemporary peers.
This added a whole new dimension to my understanding and I can’t help but wonder if I just didn’t know enough the first time around to ‘get’ Hardy. There’s so many in there (and I have a whole list of other texts that are relevant to themes, ideas and characters in Tess) but unless I happen to get a book deal for this, I’ve managed to cut them down to the key allusions.
Here are my top 5
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