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  • Rosemarie Morgan replies:
  • Rosemarie Morgan

I hope I can clarify, to William Greenslade's satisfaction, some of the points made in my review.

Rosemarie Morgan finds much to object to in my title Thomas Hardy's 'Facts' Notebook.

Well yes! Most scholars would object. The 1882 Notebook title is Hardy's (not Greenslade's) and it is "Facts, from Newspapers, Histories, Biographies, & other Chronicles—(mainly Local)." Not only has Greenslade re-stated Hardy's title and made it Thomas Hardy's 'Facts' Notebook but the abbreviation of Hardy's words misrepresents the material content (Greenslade dates it 1883 but I am relying on Millgate's1882). But given Greenslade's bewilderment over these issues perhaps I should elaborate on my concerns. First is that the Notebook's authentic title, "Facts, from Newspapers, Histories, Biographies, & other Chronicles—(mainly Local)," accurately represents the material content: that is, a compendium of extracts, snippets, and jottings from secondary sources not, as the unqualified "Facts" title misleadingly indicates, primary sources.

Second, Greenslade's truncation of Hardy's own title might be regarded as simply unprofessional if it didn't reflect the various other liberties he has taken with his subject. It is noteworthy, by the way, that, prior to his editorship, scholars have managed to work on Hardy's 1882 Notebook for many years despite Greenslade's claim that it remained neglected, forgotten, in the Dorset County Museum, ever since Hardy's death. This is not only untrue but Greenslade unwittingly confirms the untruth by naming nine scholars who have cited the Notebook in their publications. More to the point, no scholar, to date, has attempted to sensationalize its contents—broadcasting it to the media as "reshaping Hardy's imaginative and fictional worlds," as "moving Hardy into a completely new direction," as being "full of juicy details"—and other grandiose claims. Unfortunately for the world of Hardy scholarship, Greenslade's "Facts" title plays into this sensationalism with some degree of success since it leads instantly, in the uncertain but intelligent public mind (for just how does a notebook reshape someone's world?), to questions and doubts concerning plagiarism and copyright violations.

In his introduction Greenslade tactically exploits this kind of doubt and uncertainty to cast slurs on Hardy's motivation and epistemology. Private note-taking from assorted sources, such as maintaining commonplace books, has engaged writers since time began. And "private" is the operative word. To many writers note-taking of this kind is both selective and interpretive and thus constitutes an intensely personal transaction with the self—even, in the manner of a diary, an "extension" of the self. Predictably, Hardy, in line with other public figures, felt urged to destroy many of his personal notebooks and papers. That the 1882 Notebook escaped the flames and that Greenslade is [End Page 403] allowed the very special privilege of editing it for publication should, surely, command gratitude and respect? So yes, I am disturbed. I am made distinctly uneasy by Greenslade's insinuating tone—and it was primarily his tone which commanded my attention—implying that these "Facts" (the word is persistently hammered at the reader) have been somehow tampered with, by Hardy. How? Why? Because he scratches them out, from time to time, or amends them, or cuts them? Of courseHardy makes deletions, erasures and excisions in his 1882 Notebook. Wouldn't an editor, of all people, be the first to understand the psychoanalytic aesthetics of this (and hasn't this particular editor ever set eyes on a Hardy manuscript with all its cross-hatched deletions and scissored leaves?). Inevitably, such deletions present problems for editors. Understood. But do they point to some kind of illicit meddling with the sources? Indeed, would the question even arise, let alone be insinuated into a scholarly work— "why did Hardy go to such lengths to obscure some of his sources?"—if the editorial mind were not prone to sensation-mongering?

Editors are a privileged race. They are entrusted with literary works in order to place them in the public domain. Greenslade has his own method, however. Mostly interrogative. He subjects his reader to several pages of editorial speculation—leading questions about the hidden motives for Hardy's deletions...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1530-7190
Print ISSN
0042-5206
Pages
pp. 403-407
Launched on MUSE
2005-11-09
Open Access
No
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