Bob Dylan And Thomas Hardy (Part XVII)

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The last episode was   Bob Dylan and Thomas Hardy part XVI

By Larry Fyffe

As well as a novel placed in the time of Napoleon Bonaparte, Thomas Hardy pens a long play about the Napoleonic Wars:

A horrible dream has gripped me - horrible

(Thomas Hardy: The Dynasts,  Act VII, sc. vi)

Bob Dylan writes songs about the later American Civil War:

I dreamt a monstrous dream

(Bob Dylan: ‘Cross The Green Mountain)

Prior to the Civil War, a number of slaves escape to Canada by means of the ‘underground railroad’ – giving rise to the song below:

No more auction block for me
No more, no more
No more auction block for me
Many thousands gone

(Bob Dylan: No More Auction Block ~ traditional)

Elsewhere, the singer/songwriter mentions the Napoleonic Wars – The United States sides with Napoleon, and attacks Canada (British North America); Britain retailiates by setting the White House in Washington aflame – the American endeavour to conquer all of North America fails:

Ever since the British burned the White House down
There's been a bleeding wound in the heart of town
(Bob Dylan: Narrow Way)

The above image akin to the bloody image depicted beneath:

The oblong white ceiling with this scarlet blot in the midst
had the appearance of a gigantic Ace of Hearts
(Thomas Hardy: Tess Of The d'Urbervilles, Chapter LVI)

As the following lyrics indicate, the despotic French general becomes an archetype in regards to love affairs:

You used to be amused
At Napoleon in rags, and the language that he used
Go to him now he calls you, you can't refuse
(Bob Dylan: Like A Rolling Stone)

On the subject of love and love, the singer/songwriter, like Hardy in his day, draws upon writers living at the time:

Idiot wind,  blowing through the dust upon our shelves
We're idiots, babe
It's a wonder that we can even feed ourselves
(Bob Dylan: Idiot Wind)

A tribute paid to the author of the following prose:

Strange, how we manage to feed the world, and not
learn to feed ourselves
(Henry Miller: The Air-Conditioned Nightmare)

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