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ELT 37:2 1994 of the "speech/writing binary opposition which he detects at the heart of Western discourse" lays an ambiguous foundation for analysis. Sentences like this one, with its preference for vague passive constructions and other obfuscatory flourishes, do little to reassure the reader tftat this discussion is germane to his topic: The notion that spoken language authenticates self-presence is challenged [by whom? Derrida?] and subverted in deconstruction [as conducted by Derrida? other critics?], where the logocentric exaltation of speech over writing is dismantled" (75). (Can "exaltation" be dismantled?) Once Ebbatson recovers from this deconstructionist spasm, however, he writes more clearly and pursues an enlightening argument. He sees the role(s) of the narrator as central to the story. While the story may appear to be based on a conventional Hardyan love-triangle (two women compete for the favors of one man), "there is another voice which is heard, that of the narrator. The triangle, stock-in-trade of romantic fiction... is thus problematized by a fourth participant, the narrator" (79). The story, then, he argues "is an exercise in duplicity which mirrors the very act of story-telling" (79-80). As in this instance, discussions of deconstructionist and materialist theory often seem included out of a sense of obligation, but not to a central thesis or approach. Despite that, Hardy: The Margin of the Unexpressed has value for the insights it will provide readers willing to have their horizons widened by observing Hardy's creative genius in unlikely works. W. Eugene Davis ________________ Purdue University Hardy's Hidden Text Joe Fisher. The Hidden Hardy. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1992. χ + 205 pp. $45.00 THE PRIMARY DISTINCTION Fisher makes in this interesting study is between the surface texture of a Hardy novel, which constitutes the acceptable text marketed to his bourgeois readership (the traded text), and the subtext which embodies Hardy's rebellion against bourgeois ideology (the hidden text). The introduction outlines the book's basic argument, which can briefly be reduced to three propositions: 1) Wessex is a myth which Hardy creates to delude the purchasers of his traded text; he corrupts the myth in his hidden texts. 2) Sexuality is Hardy's chosen site of conflict: "covert and semi-covert images of sexual intercourse and female 226 BOOK REVIEWS anatomy are central in the narrator's antithetical counter-texts." 3) Allusions work on two levels also; in the traded text they show the provincial's credentials, in the hidden text they enforce anti-Christian or pre-Christian mythmaking. Successive chapters (each of which takes a single novel as subject) start from these propositions, but promise slightly more than they can effectively deliver. This is particularly the case in the earlier chapters of the study, in which Fisher has to peel away quite a lot of traded text in order to lay open for us (like the fragment of John South's brain to which he pointedly refers in his chapter on The Woodlanders) the subversive counter-text. Because Fisher's discussions are always stimulating it would be good to be able to engage with every chapter, but one example must suffice. Chapter 2, Far from the Madding Crowd (1874): Priapus in Arcadia, essentially proposes that there is a sensual and sexually subversive hidden text which modern criticism has begun to reveal, though the surface text can be, and presumably was, read in ignorance of it. Such a suggestion is not controversial. Fisher quotes Goode on Troy's swording of Bathsheba, which eloquently makes the point, and does some acute analysis himself of the description of Bathsheba riding bareback. This is all good, but in this chapter and throughout the first two thirds of the book, in discussing the ways that Hardy subverts System, Fisher determines that Hardy himself had a system in mind, that the counter-text functions systematically throughout the whole novel, and reaches its conclusion as the traded text also reaches its conclusion. In this instance much of Fisher's cumulative argument derives from his suggestion that though Gabriel Oak represents in the traded text "a mature, benign, sympathetic patriarchy," in the hidden text he represents the priapic god Pan. The...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 226-229
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
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