I am grateful to Dougles Gerlach who spotted this article in The Guardian which shows just how consistently bleak Thomas Hardy’s novels are. For the record, the ones to avoid if you wish to retain a cheerful outlook on life are:
1 Jude The Obscure (12 events likely to cause abject misery)
2 The Mayor of Casterbridge (9 events likely to cause abject misery)
3 Tess of the D’Urbervilles (9 events likely to cause abject misery)
Tp put this in perspective, the only serious competitor for Hardy in the bleakness stakes is Dostoyevsky, whose Crime and Punishment also racked up 9 events likely to cause abject misery.
For the record, Trollope doesn’t even make the list.
Clearly Trollope’s realism is of a different kind since in Hardy’s colossal total of misery inducing events across fourteen novels, he has only one catastrophic business failure whereas Trollope readers are well-used to seeing their heroes suffer financial disasters (from Melmotte to Lord Silverbridge to Mark Robarts…the list goes on and on).
For more depressing details go to: