By F.B. Pinion
A consultant to the works of thomas hardy and their heritage
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Extra resources for A Hardy Companion: A Guide to the works of Thomas Hardy and their background
It was Hardy's cousin Teresa, the daughter of James Hardy, who played the harmonium at Stinsford after the revolution in parochial church music which provided the background accompaniment to the early lovestory of Dick Dewy and Fancy Day. Hardy's interest in rural church affairs had been revived when his sister Mary became a church organist; 'Tell me about the organ and how the Sundays go off- I am uncommonly interested,' he wrote to her from London in 1863. The detective of autobiography in fiction may trace a resemblance to Tryphena Sparks, another of Hardy's cousins, in the description of Fancy Day (I vii), and perhaps also in the waywardness of her affections.
The poetic symbolism in the Gothic extravaganza is incidental. It is 25 A Hardy Companion more effective than the coincidental association of the falling tower and Elfride's pathetic trust in Knight, but it suggests incidental inspiration, as do many other items in this novel of mixed elements. The dialogue of the rustics is a relief from discussions on serious themes, especially those which turn on prying jealousy, Victorian proprieties, and feminine caprice; but on the whole it is not as time-encrusted and memorable as in Under the Greenwood Tree.
Its composition was 'lamentably hurried' (Purdy, 44), and bears witness in its late stages to the exigencies of serial publication. The first nine chapters were sent in March, and the remaining in September 1882, to Boston, where it appeared in The Atlantic Monthly from May to December 1882.