Fri, 6 April 2018
A melancholy German Hussar creates an intensifying spiral of conflict for a secluded country girl. Thomas Hardy, today on The Classic Tales Podcast.
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Today’s tale was based on a true story. Hardy was actually told this story by one of the last people to have actually witnessed it, and the evidence at the end is stated exactly as it now reads in the town registrar’s office. In his preface to the 1896 edition of Life’s Little Ironies, which featured “The Melancholy Hussar”, Hardy states:
“A story-teller’s interest in his own stories is usually independent of any merits or demerits they may show as specimens of narrative art; turning on something behind the scenes, something real in their history, which may have no attraction for a reader even if known to him – a condition by no means likely. In the present collection ‘The Melancholy Hussar of the German Legion’ has just such a hold upon myself for the technically inadmissible reasons that the old people who gave me their recollections of its incidents did so in circumstances that linger pathetically in the memory.”
Apparently the 90-year-old woman who told this story to Hardy pointed out the actual spots where “such and such” happened, and it made an incredible impression on him. So much so that we are still exploring the story 124 years later.
And now, “The Melancholy Hussar of the German Legion”, by Thomas Hardy