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Friday, January 27, 2017

On the Black Hill (1982) by Bruce Chatwin

Image result for the black mountains wales
The area surrounding the Black Mountains of the Welsh/English border are the setting for the events of On the Black Hill, by Bruce Chatwin.
Book Review
On the Black Hill (1982)
 by Bruce Chatwin

  Thomas Hardy is a literary immortal, forever synonymous with dour morality tales set in the mid to late 19th century English country side.   On the Black Hill by Bruce Chatwin is an homage/update of the Hardy template, transported to the Welsh/English borderlands and moved forward in time to the early 20th century. On the Black Hill is a clear example of a new novel existing largely within the audience created by an earlier author (Thomas Hardy.)   Thus, the success of On the Black Hill is judged by it's ability to successfully evoke Hardy while not imitating him.

Image result for Hay-on-Wye
Hay-on-Wye is the local town for the area in On the Black Hill, but it does not appear by name.

  Judged by this standard the movement of the Hardy-plot forward and time and west to Wales is sufficient to give it a satisfying level of novelty for a late 20th century reader.  I'm sure that the number of audiences members between 1982 and today who are actively reading Thomas Hardy is so small that coming across On the Black Hill is likely to be as novel as Hardy himself is today

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