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ELT: Volume 33:3 1990 leads to grace and beauty and insight" or whether, in Hardy, they happen "by accident in spite of craft?" Taylor's answer is that "sometimes the combination takes place, sometimes it does not." What matters is that "Hardy makes us think again about the importance of craft, and a commitment to craft, in bringing about the combination." So does Taylor. Hardy's Metres and Victorian Prosody is a challenging and highly valuable book. It is the kind of book that many serious students of Victorian poetry had meant someday to write and now may wish that they had written. Lloyd Siemens University of Winnipeg Thomas Hardy and Religion Timothy Hands. Thomas Hardy: Distracted Preacher? Hardy's Religious Biography and Its Influence On His Novels. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1989. 172 pp. $35.00. IN THOMAS HARDY: DISTRACTED PREACHER? Timothy Hands has provided an extraordinarily wide-ranging study of just about every conceivable way that religion entered into Thomas Hardy's life and work, and, although his subtitle mentions only Hardy's novels, in fact he provides substantial discussion of Hardy's poems and short stories as well. Indeed, if this study has one outstanding characteristic it is surely the dogged thoroughness with which Hands has pursued his topic over five chapters devoted respectively to Hardy's religious biography , his use of biblical allusion, his use of religion in characterization, his treatment of Christian doctrine, and the religious character of his art. One striking example of Hands's exceptional thoroughness is his chapter on Hardy's religious biography. Hardy's church-going, for example, is traced in meticulous detail. Hands fleshes out the general historical background he supplies by providing illuminating biographical information about the specific religious orientations of ministers Hardy came in contact with at Stinsford, Fordington, Dorchester, Weymouth, and London—including data about the topics of the sermons Hardy may have heard and the kinds of religious groups and individuals he was or may have been associated with, along with a full account of his bible annotations. A similarly meticulous thoroughness is notable in every chapter of his book. 336 Book Reviews But, despite Hands's methodical fullness and particularity, his interpretation of the wealth of detail he presents is not always completely convincing. For example, Hardy, in his autobiography, provides a spirited and lightly comic account of his relationship with Henry Bastow, a fellow architectural student who became "very doctrinal" and convinced of the need to be baptized as an adult. Hardy's narrative of his sense of being out of his depth in such doctrinal disputes, of his search for information on how to defend infant baptism, and of how he "incontinently determined to 'stick to his own side'" in defense of High Church views on baptism while being intellectually impressed with some Baptists he came to know—all this Hands sees as an attempt to mask the fact that "at some time after leaving home in 1859, Hardy began to be drawn towards an Evangelical churchmanship which he was later unwilling to acknowledge." In an effort to emphasize the novelty of this thesis, Hands first flatly asserts that Hardy's biographers have "unquestioningly accepted" what he takes to be Hardy's claim that he retained his High Church allegiances until the loss of his faith in the mid 1860s— though in fact Michael Millgate had called attention to the possibility that Hardy had briefly been attracted to Evangelical views. Then, to show that Hardy had a previously unsuspected extended attraction towards an "Evangelical churchmanship," Hands adduces the following evidence. First he cites letters from Henry Bastow; the letters reveal, certainly, that Bastow had strong Evangelical tendencies (as Hardy pointed out in his autobiography) but Bastow's letters provide no compelling evidence of Hardy's views, and, in one instance in which Bastow writes, "you once professed to love a crucified Saviour," the word I have italicized suggests rather that he now thinks Hardy may not; furthermore, Bastow's letters express repeated concern that Hardy's faith was weak. Second, Hands argues that after Bastow's departure from England "Hardy's Evangelical zeal increased" on the grounds that between 17...


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pp. 336-339
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