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Thomas Hardy (Wordsworth Literary Lives) Paperback – September 1, 2007

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Series: Wordsworth Literary Lives
  • Paperback: 514 pages
  • Publisher: Wordsworth Editions Ltd (September 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1840225599
  • ISBN-13: 978-1840225594
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,428,794 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Bruce Oksol VINE VOICE on November 13, 2008
Format: Paperback
This is a "biography" unlike most. "At a time when confessional autobiography and investigative biography are the fashion," Hardy's approach is entirely different and many will be disappointed, especially for those whom this is their first exposure to Hardy. In the end, the biography fails.

The "biography" has a feeling of a poorly edited diary (not a journal); one can almost tell which lines are Florence's. It's as if "they" took his diary composed of dates and events, and then added some explanatory material. The better the added material, the more likely it was his, but often it seems second-rate, a "cut and paste" feel to it. The facts are there; it's just not pleasurable reading per se.

Having said that, to have added verbatim his first wife's recollections [written in 1911, the year before she died] of their first meeting in 1870 is worth the price of the book. This really is very, very precious: her description of riding her horse Fanny, her first impressions of Thomas (age 30 at the time), and her faith in Christ. It is said that Thomas, initially not terribly emotional upon the death of his first wife, later became nostalgic and more melancholy when thinking about Emma. Reading her recollections, one can almost see Thomas -- in late age -- wanting to ensure Emma's recollections were not lost to antiquity, not so much for him, but for her. Emma must have been a very attractive woman in her youth; after all, Thomas had just spent six years in London and passed on all the women there. Emma herself said upon seeing Thomas for the first time she had visions of having seen him in dreams.
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Format: Paperback
The first thing to know about this book, since the title is confusing, is that it is the life of Thomas Hardy, written almost entirely by him and published in two volumes under his wife's name after his death. This was his wish, and the reasons for it are complex and not fully understood, though his wife's preface and the scholarly introduction give some useful information. Hardy began writing it over a decade before his death, updating periodically; his wife finished it and, after consulting with friends and literary advisors, deleted some material and made a few additions. The former consisted mostly of frequent railing against critics; such outbursts were very understandable from a writer who had been often, harshly, and unfairly eviscerated but now seem moot since time has proven him right. Few will miss them or the other major deleted material, which mostly recounted social visitors to Hardy late in life. Hardy went from a humble background to world fame and acclaim, and it would be hard to begrudge him listing prominent callers, but he had a lifelong disdain for such accolades and probably just included this because he thought most would be interested. His close friends understandably wanted it removed, especially as they did not want him to come off as a social climber. Additions were mostly second- or third-hand anecdotes. All told, changes were significant in number but altered the book in only a very minor way. Several editions now exist, the most prominent being that edited by Michael Millgate, which tries to restore Hardy's intent, has extensive editorial material detailing changes, and includes added text as an appendix. The present edition has the work as published and, being a budget edition, lacks extensive bonus material, but is quite generous considering the price.Read more ›
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