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ELT: Volume 33:4 1990 mine of information for students interested in Barrie or any of his many works. It is a worthy addition to the 1880-1920 Authors Series published by ELT Press, planned to "make available new critical, biographical, bibliographical, and primary works" on authors of the period. Edwin Gilcher Cherry Plain, New York The Hardy Letters Conclude The Collected Letters of Thomas Hardy, Volume VII, 1926-27. Richard Little Purdy and Michael Millgate, eds. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1988. 304 pp. $65.00 THE APPEARANCE of its seventh volume, a symmetrical (and, as literary letters go, prompt) ten years after publication of the first, completes the Millgate and Purdy edition of Hardy's Collected Letters. This last span in the epistolary bridge that now crosses Hardy's life from 17 August 1862 to Christmas Day 1927 is the shortest, although the ninety pages of letters afforded by his last two years bear quantitative comparison with the total for other two-year periods, suggesting undiminished submission to the courtesies of communication despite recurrent claims, often supported by the evidence of the letters themselves, of declining energy, and despite all the unsolicited letters marked "unanswered" that survived the Max Gate fires. While drafts in Hardy's hand prepared for typing by Florence Hardy or May O'Rourke have been included only selectively, in accordance with the policy established in Volume 5, the percentage of items that appears over a secretarial signature grows with Hardy's increasing frailty: "I wish I had learnt to use a typewriter when it was most practicable years ago. Since I did not I am compelled to send the most meagre letters nowadays, or none at all, on account of weak eyes &c." Volume 7 is expanded into uniformity with its peers by the accoutrements of closure. Another ninety pages provide additional letters discovered too late for inclusion in their natural places in the chronological sequence, a group of undated letters and fragments, corrections and amplifications to entries in previous volumes, and an index of recipients for the letters in the present one. Users and reviewers of the edition have long been anticipating, with varying degrees of patience, the final component: an admirably detailed 120page general index to the whole edition, which will allow far more flexible use of the earlier volumes than was possible with just the 468 Book Reviews index of recipients in each of them. Those who lamented the absence of such an index from previous volumes will perhaps feel compensated by the obvious convenience of a single location for headings that would otherwise have been distributed across seven mini-indexes. A project completed with the authority and professionalism that distinguish this edition tends to conceal its own achievement, filling a void so completely as to encourage forgetfulness of its recent extent. A decade ago, and notwithstanding the availability in published form of selected caches, such as letters to Emma Hardy or Florence Henniker, or items in literary memoirs, Hardy as correspondent was defined largely by letters that had become virtual anthology pieces, many of them cropped for appearance in his self-authored Life. While the bulk of the letters had found their way to research libraries, they were widely scattered. The disciplining of the letters into controlled accessibility has been crucial to the enlargement of our sense of Hardy, and in combination with Millgate's other recent work—-his 1982 biography and the edition of the original, Hardy-authored version of The Life and Work of Thomas Hardy (1985)—has in considerable part made obsolete most earlier biographies and all earlier selections of letters. While the Hardy who emerges from the collected letters may not surprise us, the unknown intimacy or enthusiasm here or unexpected vulnerability there builds cumulatively into a personality more complete and congenial, if no less enigmatic, than had been recoverable before. Modesty shaded by pride, sympathy by reserve, generosity by calculation, breadth of vision by fastidiousness—the complex and contradictory sensibility is now open to scrutiny in its full distinctiveness , no longer obscured by the deliberate deceits of self-projection or the well-meaning distortions of partisan biography. The temporal and relational depth in our impression of Hardy, his...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 468-472
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Archived
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