Pastourelle (Shepherdess) (1889)
by William Bouguereau
I’m listening to Tess of the D’Urbervilles
by Thomas Hardy and this picture closely resembles my mind’s picture of Tess. Tess’s story is a sad tale: she grew up in a dysfunctional family, was assaulted by a “gentleman”, struggled as a single mother, lost her baby, and moved away to start anew. This book reminds me of Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter
. I’ve never before read Hardy; listening is an easy way to get some exposure to this author I feel I ought to know.
Listening to Hardy is an odd juxtaposition to reading Wendell Berry. Hardy makes you indignant and angry about the tragedy of this young woman, the toil and drudgery of her life as a dairy maid; he is unsettling and edgy. Berry paints pictures of healthy, nourished families within an agrarian community where work is valued, souls are fed, generations are connected, and hope abounds.