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331 peculiarly ungrateful. I have in mind —among other examplesBuckler 's extended use of Florence Emily Hardy's Life of her husband as "an autobiography." (Florence contributed more to its wording than Buckler seems to realize; see Michael Millgate's Thomas Hardy: A_ Bi ography, 1982, pp. 516-19). Buckler does not write consistently on the assumption that Hardy's poetry is best studied as a set of autonomous literary creations; he uses external evidence when it suits his argument. But the assumption is, nevertheless, challengeable. We know far too much about Hardy's life and acquaintances and the development of his professional career to reject, out of hand, the autobiographical element in the poems. Harold Orel University of Kansas 4. HARDY'S LETTERS Thomas Hardy. The Col 1ected Letters of Thomas Hardy. Volume Four, 1901-1913. Richard Little Purdy and Michael Millgate, eds. Oxford: clarendon Press, 1984. $39.95 Apart from a few letters dealing with such matters as Hardy's use of dialect and his views on realism, the interest in this volume lies in its bearing upon two important periods of Hardy's life and artistry, the death of his first wife Emma and the preparation of the definitive text of his novels, the 1912 Wessex Edition. Not a great deal new is learned about Hardy's emotions upon the sudden death of the woman he had once loved but from whom he had become estranged, or about his working methods and conception of himself as an artist; but these letters do further clarify the impression of Hardy's nature given by the previous three volumes. The effect of Emma Hardy's death cannot be separated from the context of Hardy's relationship with Florence Dugdale, Hardy's protege who later (in 1914) became his second wife. For years before Emma's death Hardy knew Florence, arranging visits with her to his friend Edward Clodd's home at Aldeburgh, referring to her as "a young cousin" and "my young friend"; and after her death she and Emma's niece Lilian Git ford spent much time at Max Gate caring for Hardy, looking after the house, typing his letters, and the like. The nature of their relationship before Emma's death will probably never be known, but two months afterwards Hardy is writing Florence in energetic language, "If I once get you here [presumably Max Gate] again won't I clutch you tight: you shall stay till spring" (p. 255). Although this declaration survives only because Florence herself transcribed it in a letter to Clodd, it certainly seems to point to an emotional bond. The letters referring to Emma written immediately after her death are fairly restrained, with no obvious deep grief. Most are brief acknowledgements of expressions of sympathy at his bereavement, using many phrases repetitively (for a time Hardy wrote from three to five a day) and having as common theme the "unexpectedness" of her death. The most poignant letter is to Clodd: "Yes: what you say is true. One forgets all the 332 recent years & differences, & the mind goes back to the early times when each was much to the other—in her case & mine intensely much" (p. 2 3 7). Une is inclined to assume that genuine emotion impelled Hardy's trip to Cornwall to re-visit the scenes of his courtship of Emma forty years previously (see the letters to the current rector of St. Juliot, J. H. Dickinson, pp. 275, 299); but through reading in sequence all the surviving relevant letters one sees as never before that whatever effect Emma's death had on Hardy manifested itself most strongly as 1 i terary feelings. This does not, of course, mean so much that the emotions were insincere since Hardy's fullest being was as a poet. Strong feeling was preserved for use in poetry; the feeling underlying a writer's command of language simply is not available for letters. That Hardy in letters seldom wrote about matters that engaged him deeply makes explicable why these letters contain no hint of the burst of creativity at the time of these mundane letters that was bringing into existence the poems celebrating the remembered Emma, the magnificent...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 331-333
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Archived
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