Why Hardy’s first novel failed

The first novel Thomas Hardy wrote was called The Poor Man and the Lady. Publishers shied away from it. Some of them encouraged him to keep writing. Some saw “real power and insight” in it. But the real problem was that he didn’t love enough of the characters in the book – the upper class were caricatures. Conversations he put into their mouths – in drawing-rooms and ballrooms – were just too bitter, and too full of “look, aren’t these people nasty, really?” Hardy was laying into society – deliberately writing a “socialistic novel” – rather than writing a novel with the real breath of life in it.

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