Letter from Bradford K. Daniels to Thomas Hardy, 29 November 1905

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B. K. Daniels. Philippine Islands ("terrible old prophet &c.)

Balayan, Batangas Province, Philippine Islands

Thomas Hardy,

My dear sir:

I have just finished reading Tess--strange that I never read it before. Next to Jude, it is the most tremendous thing I have ever read. To me you are like some terrible old prophet crying in the wilderness. The two books have been my baptism of fire. I do not pretend to be a critic, but to me you are the greatest mind that has worked in English fiction. It is useless to compare you with other writers, though, for you are so totally unlike them. It is so easy and so tempting to make a book popular by evading the truth--to present life asa gilded puppet, rather than in its native dignity and--yes, I think so, on the whole--sorrow.

But to me you are no pessimist. Your belief in human nature is the most profound, unquenchable, of any man's I have ever known in per- [Page 2] [Page 3] son or through books. Your insight into the heart of woman is the most Christ-like of anything I have ever met in literature. The senseless, untrue, and too often malignant criticisms that have been passed upon you in this connection are enough to make one despise the reviewing system which can permit such a travesty on justice. If I had a daughter unfolding into womanhood, I should certainly place Tess and Jude in her hands, and feel that I had provided the instruction which most mothers are too cowed by convention to give.

Although I am an American (Canadian born), yet I have lived some time in England--mostly in Kent and Essex, and feel that you have made your characters an inseparable part of, the inevitable product of, their environment. Perhaps from the literary standpoint I can pay you no higher compliment.

But to me you are much more than a great novelist. To use a much abused phrase, you are a man with a mission--the deliverance of woman from the heaviest shackles that a stupid and selfish society has forged for her.

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Now I know that you will take these crudities in the spirit in which they are written--a deep desire to express my appreciation of the man who to me is the most significant figure in modern literature.

Yours most sincerely,

Bradford K. Daniels.
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