Hardy's works take place in Wessex (named after the Anglo-Saxon kingdom which existed in the area). One of his distinctive achievements is to have captured the cultural atmosphere of rural Wessex in the golden epoch that existed just before the coming of the railways and the agricultural and industrial revolutions that were to change the English countryside for ever.
His works are often deeply pessimistic and full of bitter irony, in sharp contrast to the prevalent Victorian optimism.
Great Things (IV)
Will these be always great things, Great things to me? ... Let it befall that One will call, "Soul, I have need of thee:" What then? Joy-jaunts, impassioned flings, Love, and its ecstasy, Will always have been great things, Great things to me!