‘All gave breath to what only books and biographies had told me earlier’: Oindrila’s postcard from Max Gate

Oindrila visits Max Gate, Dorchester in August 2014, posing alongside another Hardy enthusiast and wildlife specialist

Oindrila visits Max Gate, Dorchester in August 2014, posing alongside another Hardy enthusiast and wildlife specialist

Why I went…

I went to visit Max Gate in August 2014 while attending the Twenty-First Biennial International Thomas Hardy Conference organized by The Thomas Hardy Society, Dorchester. I was the recipient of the Frank Pinion Award from the society for my potential in Hardy scholarship. As a Hardy Scholar this was a much-awaited trip from a distant India. Since the inception of my interest in Thomas Hardy it was my dream to visit the two important houses associated with him—the one of his birth at Higher Bockhampton and this one at Dorchester. The visit was made special as I went there with a group of equally passionate Hardy enthusiasts and learned scholars.

What I got out of the experience…

This was an experience of a life-time as I was able to see the setting and ambiance in which Hardy lived and wrote his classic novels and poems. The rooms, the adjoining garden-paths, the studies and the two attic rooms in which his first wife Emma had literally locked herself away as the marital relationship deteriorated—all gave breath to what only books and biographies had told me earlier. I could visualize the master in his thoughts as afternoon light filtered through the panes onto his writing desk. This visit to the stark, yet beautifully constructed Max Gate gave meaning to my many years of research on Hardy and helped place the author in his setting—while providing a clearer idea of his lifestyle, yet increasing the romance which always envelops the minds of readers with regard to authors!
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