Penny Boumelha

Penny Boumelha whose study of Thomas Hardy was published in 1981, teaches English at the University of Western Australia.

Princess Diane

Penny Boumelha, 21 February 1985

In Sartre’s Les Mots, there is a mise-en-abîme in which he writes of his youthful fascination with a volume on the childhood of illustrious men: in each life-history – as here in his own autobiography – there is a point at which the apparent banality and contingency of their ordinary life becomes illumined with the significance of destiny, as the ‘great man’-to-be fuses momentarily with the child. These moments, for Sartre, bestow a vertiginous god-like sensation upon the reader, who is thereby placed in a position to exchange knowing looks and indulgent smiles with the author over the heads of the characters. Patricia Bosworth seems to have learned much of her method from the unnamed author of Sartre’s boyhood reading. She is prodigal with knowing looks, though reading the book did little to make me feel like a divinity.’


Graham Hough, 7 October 1982

There has been an abundance of good critical writing about Thomas Hardy, from Lionel Johnson in 1894 to our own day, but his biography has been in a curious condition from the start. The...

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