Psychological truth: Some people (perhaps writers, artists in particular) find it easiest to adore someone who is not around to contradict the adorer's idealization of her/him.Beloveds who are dead or otherwise absent work best .... And what did Hardy get out of it? The writer's devoutly-desired consummation: Publishable work.BTW, Claire Tomalin wrote one of my all-time favorite books about Charles Dickens' last love, the actress Ellen Ternan. It's _The Invisible Woman_ and an incredible portrait of thespian life in the 19th century -- back in the days when thespians were not gods; indeed, they were not even respectable!
As they well ought not to be today.
While in Norway last month, we flew from Oslo to Bodø (pronounced, to my ear, like a cross between Buddha and how we New Englanders say buddah for butter). On the flight was the most handsome actor in Norway ("smoldering" was the whispered term)--and I don't know his name. I thought he looked something like Chuck Norris but, boy was I corrected.He sat a few rows behind us. Afterward, I found out that there is no first class seating on a Norwegian flight. All those thespian gods sit with real people.