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ELT 40:2 1997 details of Hardy's novels often involve sharp insights into the changing character of Hardy's art: The Woodlanders lacks the tragic, almost epic, qualities which are present in The Mayor. We have moved from the town to the country, to a small village almost lost among the woodlands where so much of the action takes place. Just as the dominating town has gone, so has the dominating character. Henchard stands out a larger-than-life figure against a universal sky; the characters of The Woodlanders, although very human, seem at times almost lost against their background of trees. Furthermore, although he is generous in his acknowledgment of previous scholarship—and judicious in using it—Gibson does not hesitate to briskly correct misleading judgments of earlier scholars. Thus he quite rightly questions Robert Gittings's uncritical acceptance of the often quoted figure of 80,000 prostitutes in Victorian London and his assumption that Hardy's visits to the Argyle Rooms and Cremorne Gardens were evidence that he was likely to have made use of them. Or, again, he points out that Hardy's account of the incident of the way that a hanged woman's black silk gown set off her shape—so often seized upon for overheated Freudian interpretation—may be more reasonably seen as the natural observations of a sensitive young man. In fact, among the many fine qualities in this book is the way Gibson exhibits both good sense and mature judgment. Here, in short, is a reliable outline of Hardy's life and work that is precisely what ought to be recommended to someone in need of a sound and revealing account of Hardy's literary career and the contexts in which it emerged. Robert Schweik _______________ SUNY at Fredonia Two on Hardy Tess of the D'Urbervilles. Juliet Grindle and Simon Gatrell, eds. Introduction , Simon Gatrell. Explanatory Notes, Nancy Barrineau. World's Classics Series. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994. xxxix + 410 pp. Paper $9.95 An Indiscretion in the Life of an Heiress and Other Stories. Edited with Introduction and Notes, Pamela Dalziel. World's Classics Series. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994. xlv + 266 pp. Paper $9.95 ANOTHER COMPLETE WORKS of Thomas Hardy—but not just any other—has about come to full fruition, this time in the World's Classics series from the Oxford University Press. Its publication has been formed edition by edition over the years to include all of Hardy's novels and short stories, even including a few works Hardy had not 196 BOOK REVIEWS published in his complete works. In fact, Hardy purposefully left some pieces out, as Pamela Dalziel discusses in her fine introduction to An Indiscretion in the Life of an Heiress and Other Stories. While Dalziel's volume includes the less significant works, the series is stronger because of her commentary. The general editor of the Hardy volumes is Simon Gatrell, who is also co-editor with Juliet Grindle of Tess of the d'Urervilles . Overall the volumes are a worthwhile addition to the Hardy canon, making readily accessible not only his complete prose works to the broad reading public but introductions that integrate story synopsis, historical context, scholarly criticism, and biographical information. It goes without saying that much has been written about Thomas Hardy and his work. The question, then, is why should one more thing be written about him or his writings. The answer: there is more to say. Certainly that is proven true by Gatrell's introduction to Tess. Although Gatrell begins by offering excuses why he is even writing more on Hardy—and Tess—the introduction in and of itself offers defence enough. The wonder is why what he says has not been said before. More than a hundred years have passed since the publication of Tess of the d'Urbervilles. Just as many years have passed since Tess's critics held sway over how her story was to be read, generally contradicting the author's presentation of Tess as "a pure woman" with their polemical outcry against her purity. Since then the question of Tess as a pure woman has been perennially discussed in books...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 196-199
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Archived
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