The concept of far and near is universal and not only shining up in Thomas Hardy’s novel. Generally “near” is good, holy, to preserve and to cherish and “far” is frightening, alien, evil and to keep out (of my house, of my garden, but not out of my mind! We like to adventure in fearing places, we like to feel chilly about the evil…)
The “far-near”-concept is mainly a concept of sedentary tribes. Nomads don’t have it, don’t feel it. For them “the way” is the main desire, to be blocked their fear. But to travel is quite normal, unfeeling to them, “the way is the goal”.
Even in names the “far-near”- concept is visible: In German something not real is called “böhmisches Dorf” (bohemian village), but in Bohemia the expression is “Spanish village”. The pandemic flu 1918-20, making millions of victims, was called “Spanish flu” (Thanks god Spain is far away!), while in Spain it had the name “Naples soldier”. The shitting place as a hole in the ground is called “Toilet alla Turca”, while in Turkey it has the name “Bulgarian WC”. Syphilis has the name “French disease”. How is it called in France? Do you know other examples? Far Rockaway Beach?