Fine Art Friday

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.  

5 thoughts on “Fine Art Friday

  1. I love W A Bouguereau!  My blogspot picture is one of his *Shepherdesses*  In fact, the real painting is in Florida and I want to take a field trip to see it sometime.
    I’m slightly intrigued about the idea of female shepherds, ya know.  I mean…I never thought of it as a *girls* job. 
    Dana in GA

  2. So, Carol, which book do you think more accurately depicts the agrarian life? Did Hardy actually experience this type of life? Has Berry lived it? I’m curious. I enjoyed Tess when I had to read it years ago. Enjoyed it, meaning that I continued to read it. It fascinated me, as I was drawn to the agrarian lifestyle. Perhaps I was just idealizing, and not truly realizing her hardships. And yet, with advances in all sorts of areas today, perhaps one could live an agrarian life without all the hardships that Hardy writes of. I don’t know. Just some thoughts on a rainy Friday….Dana, I saw some Bouguereau paintings in Seattle one year. It was so fun to walk into a room and say “aha! that looks like a Bouguereau!” and it was!Noel, not in GA

  3. Oh, oh, oh I know the answer to this question, she responds, frantically waving her hands in the air!! Well, half the answer. I’ll have to learn more about Hardy. I’m avoiding reviews and discussions of Tess until I’ve finished the book myself.Berry lives (present tense) the agrarian lifestyle to such a degree that he has been called a Luddite. No tractor (he uses horses), no computer (he writes long hand and his wife transcribes/edits). He feeds animals and milks cows daily.Berry is really almost a contrarian: no one group can really claim him. His nonfiction essays on the environment and farming in a sustainable way make him more famous than his fiction. But I love that he is planting an old growth forest that will take 200 years to mature. He thinks beyond this generation. Here’s an interesting interview.http://arts.envirolink.org/interviews_and_conversations/WendellBerry.htmlBTW, I love sibling conversations in the comments. Remember my efforts, Dana, in getting my sibling to comment here? (grin)

  4. Oh, and Dana, I listened to a phrase this afternoon in reference to the cheap pay of the female farm workers. Tess returns to a grungy job after her marriage and subsequent rejection by her husband. I also got the sense that they hung out in groups, for protection, I’m sure.

  5. While away for the weekend, my hubby and I browsed Barnes and Noble for a couple of hours, and one of the treasures I came away with was a volume of Berry’s poetry.

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