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Book Reviews Henry Knight, and George Somerset by such loose connections as an informed knowledge of scripture, an association with the future, and an interest in science or socio-political idealism. One result of Hands's attempts to mold his very diverse materials into significant classes, then, is the kind of stretching and loose categorizing I have noted. But at other times he succeeds admirably. For example, Chapter 4, "Hardy and Christian Doctrine" begins with an acknowledgement of the complexity of Hardy's religious attitudes and with this shrewd observation: The influence of sentiment and emotion militates against any systematic logicality in [Hardy's] outlook, resulting in a crucially important uncertainty of viewpoint. Discussion of these three predominant qualities—fascination, rejection and sentimental illogicality—is the clearest way of examining the bewildering and eclectic variety of Hardy's religious thought. The resulting chapter constitutes, I think, an account that manages not only to accommodate but to greatly illuminate the extraordinary complexity, idiosyncrasy, and diversity of Hardy's attitudes toward Christianity; in fact, it is the best of such accounts I have read. And there is much of this high quality in Hands' book. In short, Thomas Hardy: Distracted Preacher? is at once admirable for the range and thoroughness of the detail it provides, but sometimes less so for some of the interpretations it puts on such enormously complex material. The exceptionally circumspect view it gives of Hardy and religion makes it an important contribution to Hardy scholarship, and if its arguments are occasionally not altogether convincing and its classifications not always illuminating, those weaknesses testify more to the problems inherent in organizing and presenting a view of Hardy so fully encompassing as Hands has provided than they do to any limitation on the author's part. Robert Schweik SUNY at Fredonia Parity of the Sexes Rosemarie Morgan. Women and Sexuality in the Novels of Thomas Hardy. London: Routledge, 1988. 205 pp. $50.00 THOMAS HARDY HAS BEEN DEAD for half a century, and more than a century has passed since his first published novel. In that time much has been written about him, especially about Hardy's 339 ELT: Volume 33:3 1990 women. Yet not until now, as the twentieth century is about to close, has a critical study so astutely examined Hardy's understanding of female sexuality. For any student of Hardy as well as any student of the history of women and sexuality, Rosemarie Morgan's small book is requisite. Her criticism, coming as it does after hundreds, rather thousands, of critical works have been written about Hardy's novels, cannot help but stimulate a re-reading and, yes, a reappraisal as well of Hardy's work. Indeed as J. Hillis Miller rightly comments on the dust jacket of Morgan's book, her work "is the most profound and comprehensive discussion I know of the representation of women and of female sexuality. . . . Morgan's book will challenge perceived notions about these topics." Miller contends Morgan's work "is a major revisionary study of Hardy's study of female sexuality and of political and social implications of that treatment." Not only does Morgan delineate how well Hardy understands a woman's sexuality but she effectively analyzes Hardy's imaginative method of getting at the nineteenth century's political and social abusiveness of woman as a sexual being. She does so, not unlike Hardy, by "draw[ing] out the essential existence of things unseen and render[ing] them visible." Morgan argues that Hardy is at odds with the conventional wisdom of the day which holds that there is a "sexual 'amnesia' in women." Obviously such an argument alone would not distinguish Professor Morgan's work. What does is her acuity in demonstrating how Hardy works to redefine the nineteenth-century heroine into one who not only could combine moral seriousness and sexiness but whose inherent right it was to own her full and uncensored sexually vital self. Affirming Hardy's advocacy of sexuality as the inherent right of all women, Morgan shows how "the fusion" of sexuality and moral seriousness "in the single female form brings forth, in Hardy's novels, a set of fit and healthy, brave and...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 339-343
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Archived
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