In Tagwira’s Uncertainty of Hope we saw people struggling to survive in the face of brutal change; we saw a narrator with a great sense of detail and soft spot for the ordinary urban Zimbabwean. Now we switch to Thomas Hardy, an author that Valerie Tagwira most likely studied in high school. The shift from Tagwira was random because, since I am on a short break from work, I am reading anything that presents itself to me first when I approach one of my shelves. I am currently reading Far From the Madding Crowd, which was really one of the books I read as a child in Zimbabwe ( I didn’t study it in school). Finishing Uncertainty of Hope inspired me to revist those authors that had some facility with a concern for the ordinary people whose lives are altered by forces beyond their control.
Thomas Hardy, whom I have wanted to revisit for the past ten years, was the next selection, although the day before, I had just bought War and Peace by Tolstoy. And as soon as I started reading, Hardy I was struck by the thematic similarities in the writing of Tagwira and Hardy, a very excting thing because the moments I will choose to share may be an extension of the discussion we started in Tagwira’s work. As mentioned by critics repeatedly, there are no new stories; we just retell the same human story, but doing so with our own variations and applications. This is where Joseph Campbell’s idea of the hero with a thousand faces comes in- that the story of the hero is the same but particular to individual cultures, experiences, and so on.
Join me as I explore moments in Thomas Hardy’s Far From the Madding Crowd. After this one I will move on to The Return of the Native, followed by The Mayor of Casterbridge, Tess of the d’Urbervilles and Jude the Obscure. Then I will resume work on my novel Three Lives.