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14 November 1996
Letters of Emma​ and Florence Hardy 
edited by Michael Millgate.
Oxford, 364 pp., £45, April 1996, 0 19 818609 6
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... Hardy’s wives were not inclined to be reticent about the trials of life at Max Gate. Florence was struck with uneasiness after one particularly edgy bout of discontent: ‘I hope you burn my letters ...
2 August 1984
The Collected Letters of Thomas Hardy. Vol. IV: 1909-1913 
edited by Richard Little Purdy and Michael Millgate.
Oxford, 337 pp., £21, March 1984, 0 19 812621 2
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The Letters and Prose Writings of William Cowper. Vol. IV: 1792-1799 
edited by James King and Charles Ryskamp.
Oxford, 498 pp., £48, March 1984, 0 19 812681 6
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The Land and Literature of England: A Historical Account 
by Robert M. Adams.
Norton, 555 pp., £21, March 1984, 0 393 01704 4
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The Complete Poetical Works of Thomas Hardy. Vol. II 
edited by Samuel Hynes.
Oxford, 543 pp., £35, June 1984, 0 19 812783 9
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... The fourth volume of the Collected Letters of Thomas Hardy opens with a recommendation for Mr Harry Pouncy, ‘Lecturer and Entertainer’, of Dorchester, apparently with a view to his extending his fascinations to a wider public. There follows a note to ...

Ghosts

Hugh Haughton

5 December 1985
The Life and Work of Thomas Hardy 
by Thomas Hardy, edited by Michael Millgate.
Macmillan, 604 pp., £30, April 1985, 0 333 29441 6
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The Literary Notebooks of Thomas HardyVols I and II 
edited by Lennart Björk.
Macmillan, 428 pp., £35, May 1985, 0 333 36777 4
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Emma Hardy’s Diaries 
edited by Richard Taylor.
Mid-Northumberland Arts Group/Carcanet, 216 pp., £14.95, January 1985, 0 904790 21 5
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The Collected Letters of Thomas Hardy. Vol. V: 1914-1919 
edited by Richard Little Purdy and Michael Millgate.
Oxford, 357 pp., £22.50, May 1985, 0 19 812622 0
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The Complete Poetical Works of Thomas Hardy, Vol. III 
edited by Samuel Hynes.
Oxford, 390 pp., £32.50, June 1985, 0 19 812784 7
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Annals of the Labouring Poor: Social Change and Agrarian England 1660-1900 
by K.D.M. Snell.
Cambridge, 464 pp., £30, May 1985, 0 521 24548 6
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Thomas Hardy 
edited by Samuel Hynes.
Oxford, 547 pp., £12.95, June 1984, 0 19 254177 3
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... In a letter of May 1919 Hardy told his friend Sir George Douglas he hadn’t been doing much, ‘mainly destroying old papers’. ‘How they raise ghosts,’ he added. He was still at it in September when he complained of the ...

Hardy’s Misery

Samuel Hynes

4 December 1980
The Collected Letters of Thomas Hardy. Vol. 2 
edited by Richard Purdy and Michael Millgate.
Oxford, 309 pp., £17.50, October 1980, 0 19 812619 0
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... The first volume of Hardy’s letters, published two years ago, covered the three decades from 1862, when at 22 he set off for London to work as an architect, to 1892, the year after the publication of Tess. The story that ...

Anxious Pleasures

James Wood: Thomas Hardy

4 January 2007
Thomas HardyThe Time-Torn Man 
by Claire Tomalin.
Viking, 486 pp., £25, October 2006, 0 670 91512 2
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... but ‘stretched out in a horizontal line, like a gigantic ostrich feather whose tip kept blowing away’. But where Flaubert turns his train-steam into writing, flourishing his fine literary simile, Hardy, flirting with the pictorially gnomic, seems to want to resist that conversion; Hardy would like to preserve the visuality of the detail. Hardy was supremely a man ‘who used to notice such things ...

His Only Friend

Elaine Showalter

8 September 1994
Hardy 
by Martin Seymour-Smith.
Bloomsbury, 886 pp., £25, February 1994, 0 7475 1037 7
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... Larkin sent a posthumous word of approval for the book. Could the cosmic wires have been crossed and could the spiritualist have been talking to Martin Seymour-Smith? For this massive biography of Hardy – or ‘Tom’, as Seymour-Smith chummily calls him – has the vehemence of divine revelation and the fervour of personal mission. ‘I wrote Hardy,’ the author explains in a remarkable press ...

Cheeky

Norman Page

16 March 1989
Collected Letters of Thomas HardyVol. VI, 1920-1925 
edited by Richard Little Purdy and Michael Millgate.
Oxford, 379 pp., £27.50, March 1987, 0 19 812623 9
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Collected Letters of Thomas HardyVol. VII, 1926-1927 
edited by Richard Little Purdy and Michael Millgate.
Oxford, 304 pp., £29.50, October 1988, 0 19 812624 7
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Thomas HardyThe Offensive Truth 
by John Goode.
Blackwell, 184 pp., £17.95, September 1988, 0 631 13954 0
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The Thomas Hardy​ Journal. Vol. IV: October 1988 
edited by James Gibson.
Thomas Hardy​ Society, 80 pp., £2.50, October 1988, 0 00 268541 8
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Hardy’s Metres and Victorian Prosody 
by Dennis Taylor.
Oxford, 297 pp., £32.50, December 1988, 9780198129677
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Collected Short Stories 
by Thomas Hardy.
Macmillan, 936 pp., £16.95, October 1988, 0 333 47332 9
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... is another ghostly volume we are unable to read, for it contains all those letters that have been lost or destroyed. Hence a scholarly enterprise such as the Purdy/Millgate edition, now complete, of Hardy’s letters, handsomely produced and impeccably edited though it is – or perhaps precisely because it has such a finished and monumental look – can inadvertently create a false impression ...

Presentable

Emma​ Tennant

20 August 1981
Lenare: The Art of Society Photography 1924-1977 
by Nicholas de Ville and Anthony Haden-Guest.
Allen Lane, 136 pp., £15, May 1981, 0 7139 1418 1
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... are demonstrably there for ever, and are not the casual property of a lessee, a girl with her eye on the Main Chance, an obvious future divorcee, doomed to mope in C&A while her successor drawls in Hardy Amies. In the absolute stillness of the portraits, group photographs and weddings lay the secret of Lenare’s powers of reassurance. These quiet, well-mannered frescoes could know no Pompeii – but ...

Embarrassed

Graham Hough

7 October 1982
Thomas HardyA Biography 
by Michael Millgate.
Oxford, 637 pp., £15, June 1982, 0 19 211725 4
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The Collected Letters of Thomas Hardy. Vol. III: 1902-1908 
edited by Richard Purdy and Michael Millgate.
Oxford, 367 pp., £19.50, July 1982, 0 19 812620 4
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The Neglected HardyThomas Hardy’s Lesser Novels 
by Richard Taylor.
Macmillan, 202 pp., £17.50, May 1982, 0 333 31051 9
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Good Little Thomas Hardy 
by C.H. Salter.
Macmillan, 200 pp., £15, August 1982, 0 333 29387 8
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Thomas Hardy​ and Women: Sexual Ideology and Narrative Form 
by Penny Boumelha.
Harvester, 178 pp., £18.95, April 1982, 0 7108 0018 5
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Illustration and the Novels of Thomas Hardy 
by Arlene Jackson.
Macmillan, 151 pp., £15, October 1981, 0 333 32303 3
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... 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 authorised version (Early Life, 1928; Later Years, 1930) is supposed to be by ...

Cramming for Success

James Wood: Hardy​ in London

14 June 2017
Thomas HardyHalf A Londoner 
by Mark Ford.
Harvard, 305 pp., £20, October 2016, 978 0 674 73789 1
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... the contingent; it is one half of art, the other being the eternal and the immovable.’I was often put in mind of ‘The Painter of Modern Life’ while reading Mark Ford’s study of Thomas Hardy. Ford doesn’t mention it (though he does refer to Baudelaire’s flaneurial poems), perhaps because that manifesto is too obvious, or too obviously theoretical: he prefers to build his case ...

Bitten by an Adder

Tim Parks: ‘The Return of the Native’

16 July 2014
The Return of the Native 
by Thomas Hardy, edited by Simon Avery.
Broadview, 512 pp., £9.50, April 2013, 978 1 55481 070 3
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... What a pleasure​ to return to Thomas Hardy. For about a hundred pages. Then the torment begins, and we’re not even halfway through. From now on each turn of the page will expose the reader to greater unhappiness. There’s a moment in The ...
19 October 1995
À la Pym: The Barbara Pym Cookery Book 
by Hilary Pym and Honor Wyatt.
Prospect, 102 pp., £9.95, September 1995, 0 907325 61 0
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... Eric Newby found he wanted to eat nothing so much as toast, which he pursued and devoured in prodigious quantity. Being an invalid, even if a self-made one, Mr Woodhouse’s interest in food in Emma is specially keen. One of his chief pleasures in life is recommending dishes to his friends, such as lightly boiled eggs, but only as they are done by his own housekeeper. Another of his pleasures is ...
11 October 1990
The Penguin Book of Lies 
edited by Philip Kerr.
Viking, 543 pp., £15.99, October 1990, 0 670 82560 3
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... by the soaring possibilities, in the world of fact, which his successful excavations had revealed. The imagination adores whatever can give the appearance of fact, as most good writers know. When Hardy tells us that the raindrops before a thunderstorm make spots on the road as large as nasturtium leaves, no reader is going to take him up on it. When Kipling tells us that a man’s blood on an ...

Missingness

John Bayley

24 March 1994
Christina Rossetti: A Biography 
by Frances Thomas.
Virago, 448 pp., £9.99, February 1994, 1 85381 681 7
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... Prince Who Arrived Too Late’. Too late for love, too late for joy,   Too late, too late! You loitered on the road too long,   You trifled at the gate. But the result is not happy, for like Hardy or Larkin, Christina Rossetti depended on the brief suggestion rather than the extended metaphor. Coleridge said that ‘The Ancient Mariner’ had ‘too much moral’; and the same is true of her ...

Costa del Pym

Nicholas Spice

4 July 1985
Crampton Hodnet 
by Barbara Pym.
Macmillan, 216 pp., £8.95, June 1985, 0 333 39129 2
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Foreign Land 
by Jonathan Raban.
Harvill, 352 pp., £9.50, June 1985, 0 00 222918 8
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Black Marina 
by Emma​ Tennant.
Faber, 157 pp., £8.95, June 1985, 9780571134670
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... develop a literature of protest and political parable. Last month, two novels appeared which suggest that this process may already be under way. Jonathan Raban’s Foreign Land and Black Marina by Emma Tennant are, from the formal standpoint, very different kinds of novel, but they share, quite strikingly, an un-English pre-occupation with the problem for the individual of belonging in the modern ...

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