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BOOK REVIEWS For all the admixture of the sensational and the mundane in these transcriptions and clippings, entries like these confirm Hardy's affirmation that, perhaps like newspaper editors, "[w]e tale-tellers are all Ancient Mariners, and none of us is warranted in stopping Wedding Guests (in other words, the hurrying public) unless he has something more unusual to relate than the ordinary experience of every average man and woman" (The Life and Work of Thomas Hardy, Michael Millgate , ed. [Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1985], 268). Between them, William Greenslade and Ashgate have done an excellent job of presentation. The notebook is printed as a "typographical facsimile" that adheres to the line lengths as transcribed: Greenslade explains that "[i]n extending this procedure, normally reserved for poetical matter, to a notebook of prose extracts, I have endeavoured to preserve for the reader a clear visual sense of Hardy's editorial activity ." The editorial procedures and principles of annotation are logical, clearly explained, and consistently applied; there is an excellent critical introduction, as well as a textual introduction providing a detailed bibliographical description of the notebook; an appendix offers convincing descriptions of the likely sources for erasures and excisions; and the whole typographically complex exercise (which, given the notebook 's abbreviations, multiplicity of different kinds of annotation, and inevitably piecemeal format, could so easily have generated a bewildering array of fonts) is presented crisply and with generous spacing. Both editor and press are to be congratulated for the service they have performed for Hardy studies in making this essential document available in such a visually pleasing and authoritative form. KEITH WILSON __________________ University of Ottawa Second Thoughts on Hardy's Life Michael Millgate. Thomas Hardy. A Biography Revisited. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004. xi + 625 pp. $45.00 PAYING a royal visit to Thomas Hardy at Max Gate Dorsetshire in 1923, when the venerable writer was in his mid-eighties and the Prince of Wales was twenty-eight, the future Edward VIII told Hardy in all sincerity, "My mother tells me you have written a book called Tess of the d'Urbervilles. I must try to read it some time." Had Hardy not given up fiction before the prince, who had never read a serious book, was born, he might have abandoned novel writing there and then. The confession, reported by Siegfried Sassoon, an observer at the occasion, reflects the nature of Hardy's audience in his time. No one 69 ELT 49 : 1 2006 picked up his books for a ripping read. His critical reputation (excepting only Conrad) as the major novelist of his generation, while enhanced by bowdlerized popular Victorian serial publication, was determined by the pervasive gloom and graphic content in his refinished books, which were less inhibited by Mrs. Grundy. His readership, never large by best-seller standards of his time, remained sufficient, with reprintings , to enable him to retire to unremunerative poetry, which he kept at for the rest of his long life, "ever insistent," Michael Millgate writes, "upon the superiority of his verse over his prose." Although poets often deferred to Grundyism, writers of verse could be more allusive and ambiguous than novelists filling pages to order for magazine appearances in parts. Millgate is instructive on how Hardy coped with challenges to individual chapter appearances, and how he could execute a "tactical withdrawal" in all but the final episodes. "Because the publishing system of the day demanded publication of a novel in book form ahead of the appearance of its final serial instalment ," Millgate writes, "Hardy had really no choice other than to write from the start what he intended ultimately to publish. The serial, however important financially, was textually ephemeral and indeed disposable , available therefore, if needs must, to infinite adaptation and even mutilation. The full, the original, the always intended text could be restored ahead of book publication, and occasional revisions perhaps introduced on the basis of the reception of the serial." Despite the magazine early warning system, Hardy could not escape his intentions. The books were what they were. His published novels were often condemned in the press with the same cavils as were such shocking dramas as Ibsen...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 69-73
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Will Be Archived 2021
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