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Page 275

CHAPTER XIII
THE EARLY TWENTIETH CENTURY

tragic, and it has been said of The Mayor of Casterbridge that from the first page to the last you can hear the footfalls of avenging Destiny. Most of his people are drawn from the humbler ranks, and his favourite background is his own familiar and beloved Wessex.
In The Dynasts, A Drama of the War. with Napoleon, he attempted-and, indeed, achieved-something far too vast and spacious to be presented on any stage-or even on any screen. He adopts, and adapts to his own needs, the ancient Greek idea of a Chorus commenting on the course of the play, and skilfully incorporates in his blank verse large sections of authentic contemporary material. This is how he renders the last moments of Nelson:

NELSON. If I live
But long enough I'll anchor. But-too late
My anchoring's elsewhere ordered ! Kiss me, Hardy:
[Hardy bends over him.
I'm satisfied. Thank God I have done my duty !

It was after the unfriendly reception accorded to his novel Jude the Obscure that Hardy decided to abandon prose for verse. Many of the lyrics of his middle and later years, pessimistic and sceptical though their tone may be, have much beauty of form and phrase. His old age was full of honours, and his ashes lie in Westminster Abbey, though, in memory of

travel books:
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