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71 Despite the limitations I find and, given its purpose - to show aspects of a people's heritage - , Orel's Irish History and Culture is a good, useful book for the general reader. And, as Orel indicates in the "Preface," the specialist can learn from it, too, though (I would add), he might have to learn it in an area different from his specialty. But that, too, is worth doing. Thanks to Orel and his colleagues, it can now be begun from a single book. Winthrop College Jack Wayne Weaver 3. Seeing Hardy Plain Richard Little Purdy and Michael Millgate (eds). The_ Collected Letters of Thomas Hardy. Volume One, 1840-1892 (Oxford: The Clarendon P, 1978). This is the first of a projected seven volumes intended to provide what has long been felt to be the major desideratum in Hardy scholarship - a comprehensive, critical edition of the letters. The superb editorial tact exhibited in this first volume is precisely what might be expected from scholars of such long experience and high distinction as R. L. Purdy and Michael Millgate: they have brought to bear on the manifold problems of editing Hardy's correspondence a knowledge that is encyclopedic and a passion for thoroughness and accuracy which could scarcely be surpassed. The problems they have had to surmount are formidable, and in some cases defy full solution. The extant letters, for example, are very widely scattered, and, despite the editors' efforts, almost certainly not all have been found. Some of those whose existence at one time is testified to by citations in sale catalogues cannot now be traced but may subsequently appear; the interest created by the publication of The Collected Letters itself may bring new letters to light. Those which turn up before the publication of the last volume in the edition will be included there in an appendix , but nevertheless the possibility that new and important Hardy correspondence may appear later cannot be discounted. The problems the editors faced in locating extant copies of the letters were compounded by the fact that such copies exist often in multiple forms: (1) the letter actually sent, (2) a "copy" which may indeed be a copy but which may often be a variant draft, and (3) in some cases still a third variant which Hardy may have printed in the Early Life or Later Years. It is characteristic of the thoroughness of Purdy and Millgate that all such known variants are described in their notes and the copy texts used are carefully identified. Furthermore, in their presentation of the letter texts they deserve special praise for the judiciousness with which they have steered a course between the unnecessary fullness of something like total quasi-facsimile transcription and the misleading intrusion of too much editorial regularizing and filling-in. The details of their procedures are spelled out with admirable clarity in the introduction to this first volume, and I need only say here that the practical decisions they made in implementing those pro- 72 cedures seem to me to have been in every case wise. For example, for a letter of Hardy's to his sister, Mary, on Saturday, October 28, I865, Purdy and Millgate reproduce exactly Hardy's drawings of the floor plan and an elevation of Westminster Abbey, and they similarly reproduce an unusual Hardy signature in the form of an elongated TH which is relevant to a joke with which the letter concludes. But, on the other hand, at another place, Hardy's interlinear insertion of a phrase is neither reproduced nor noted at all (nothing would require that because neither form nor spacing are in any way significant), while, at still another place, a significant passage that is now inked over in the manuscript letter (possibly but not certainly by Hardy) is retained in the edited version and the important fact of the inking-over explained in a note. Finally, within that inked-over passage, Hardy had obviously made a false start with a word these which he immediately crosse out before continuing, and that irrelevance is, sensibly, neither transcribed nor noted by the editors. In short, Purdy and Millgate have not taken the easy route of following some...


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pp. 71-73
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