Friday, 12 January 2007

Hardy and Romania

I think Hardy was concerned, amongst other things, with capturing the changes happening in what was left of rural England as mechanisation and urbanisation bit into the social realities based on 'traditional' modes of production.

Romania is going through that process now - much has already modernised, as in late Victorian England, but a few great areas and many isolated pockets are still 'pre-industrial'.

I never really understood what Hardy was capturing until I made my first visit here back in 1993 - and it hit me, almost as a shock wave, when I first travelled through Transylvania (literally: Across the Forest) seeing horse drawn carts, haystacks, scyths - not in a prettyfied BBC mini-series, but in realty - for day to day living.

There are tractors and chainsaws and large industrial agricultural units - but, even now, it still isn't difficult to go up a side road, ascend a cart track which will be impassable to a tractor in winter and find yourself in a clearing in the forest that could have come straight from the Wessex.

At Christmas there are still traditional mummers - not reconstructed - who do the firtility dances of their ancestors - in roles pased from father to son.

The pig killing is a part of these living traditions - and like Hardy I see them going.

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