This is a gaunt waste in Thule:
(Photo from Sash Alexander)
These are some Alps:
(Photo by Sandro Vannini/Corbis)
And here are the sand-dunes of Scheveningen:
(Photo by pinktigger)
The connection? Well, they’re all listed in Thomas Hardy’s The Return Of The Native (1878) as instances of landscapes that mankind might, in future, value more highly than such conventionally scenic spots as Heidelberg, Baden, and “the vineyards and myrtle-gardens of South Europe”. These are landscapes that, like the fictional Egdon Heath, “appeal to a subtler and scarcer instinct, to a more recently learnt emotion, than that which responds to the sort of beauty called charming”.
Demonstrating, at the age of 38, a somehat adolescent predilection for morbidity, Hardy goes on:
Indeed, it is a question if the exclusive reign of this orthodox beauty is not approaching its last quarter… The time seems near, if it has not actually arrived, when the mournful sublimity of a moor, a sea or a mountain will be all of nature that is absolutely in keeping with the moods of the more thinking among mankind.
I can see why many people can’t bear Hardy (though I still think he’s great). In any event, I’m sure we can all agree with the critic Holden Caulfield when he says: “I like that Eustacia Vye.”