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309 Nevertheless, even though Swinburne is not entirely satisfying as a critic, his critical essays merit the analysis Mr. Peters has devoted to them. His study is useful in reminding us that Swinburne wrote criticism not merely to relieve his spleen and answer his detractors. It also serves a purpose in demonstrating the vitality of Swinburne's interest in the whole range of literature and, to a lesser extent, in the painter's art. "Demoniac youth" he may have seemed in his more perverse poetry and splenetic prose, but there is sufficient sanity in his cri ticism. Finally, Mr. Peters' careful collation and close interpretation helps to demonstrate that at least part of what has frequently been dismissed as fuzzy nineteenthcentury impressionistic criticism may in fact be grounded in substantive principles. Differences in vocabulary should not blind us to the value of such criticism as that of Swinburne and the best of his contemporaries. To discuss a poem in terms of "justice and chastity of form" is not necessarily less cogent than to explicate its symbolic structure. In the case of many a poem it may well be more to the point. University of Colorado Wendell V. Harris 2. Thomas Hardy: A Survey and A Reassessment Richard C. Carpenter. THOMAS HARDY, NY: Twayne, I965 (Twayne's Engl ish Authors Series). $3.50, Professor Carpenter's study is, in some ways, typical of other books in the Twayne series: he has devoted considerable space to discussion of all Thomas Hardy's work, the well known and the not so well know; he has eschewed the relentless persuit of a carefully restricted thesis in favoi of a broader interpretative approach; and he has supplied useful student helps—a chronology, a nicely annotated bibliography, and an index. Despite these several bows to Twayne convention, however, his book is much more than a cautious introductory survey. While it will serve the beginner admirably, it will also be of considerable significance to advanced students interested in an important reassessment of a persistently misunderstood author. Prof. Carpenter's ability to synthesize and apply the insights of contemporary scholarship assists him in this process. The references to such important recent Hardy crticis as Albert J. Guerard and Samuel Hynes and, equally, references to Freud, Jung and other modern theoreticians suggest both the author's far-ranging scholarship and his desire to interpret his subject from a mid-twentieth century point of view. The section on poetry, for example, builds on the scholarship of R. P. Blackmur and Mr, Hynes, probably the two most influential critics of Hardy's poetry. The book is most emphatically not, however, a derivative weaving-together of the highlights of modern Hardy criticism. Instead, Prof- Carpenter has applied his own considerable critical talents to the analysis of specific works and to some of the problems of Hardy's life. His discussion of "The Two Hardys" (the Public Hardy of taciturn mien and proper attitudes, and the Private Hardy fascinated by fate, suffering and death) sheds some new i interpretative light on one of his subject's oddities. Similar penetrating analysis of individual works, is, I believe, the book's most impressive virtue. One expects to read about THE RETURN OF THE NATIVE or "The Convergence of the Twain" in this book, but it is much less 310 expected to read pointed analysis of, say, THE TRUMPET MAJOR or A LAODICEAN. Of the latter book, Prof. Carpenter comments: "The book affords glimpses of what Hardy might have become if he had been denied his Wessex and his tragic outlook, his grotesque and mythic consciousness, but it is to be read as a curiosity and then laid aside without regret." Readers who know but few of Hardy's poems will appreciate Prof. Carpenter's discussion of such buried poetic treasure as "Logs on a Hearth," of which he says: "the symbolic tension between the past and the present—between this log burning on the hearth, 'sawn, sapless, darkening with soot,' and the days when he [Hardy] and his sister climbed its bending limbs for apples—constitutes the central meaning and cannot be abstracted from the metaphors which give it life," The book contains many similar...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 309-310
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Archived
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