This 1981 book suggests an insightful approach to Hardy as a poet and novelist. With the novels in particular it concentrates not so much on ideas and attitudes as on the texture of the writing, and on the crucial importance in it between one kind of exposition and another. John Bayley starts by establishing a difference between Hardy the private 'noticer' of things and people, and Hardy the professional author committed to interpreting these observations to his readers. The vital ingredients of eroticism and humour are analysed in detail, as are the unusual ways in which passiveness, 'pessimism', and anthropomorphism function in the poems and novels, and an insightful reading of Tess is put forward. Professor Bayley shows that the rewards of reading Hardy are greater than ever, although they are not necessarily those which the reader expects, or has been taught to look for.