Cancelled Words: Rediscovering Thomas Hardy

Cancelled Words: Rediscovering Thomas Hardy

Cancelled Words: Rediscovering Thomas Hardy

Cancelled Words: Rediscovering Thomas Hardy

Synopsis

The manuscript of Hardy's first great novel Far From the Madding Crowd vanished shortly after its first publication. Rediscovered in 1918 it sheds remarkable new light on the whole of Hardy's work. The manuscript pages, some of which are reproduced here in facsimile, reveal Hardy's original composition in the novel, and the reluctantly 'cancelled words' which were the result of a long struggle with Sir Leslie Stephen, Hardy's editor. Cancelled Words reveals the manner in which Hardy worked, his resistance to censorship, his obsessive attention to detail and precision, and the often concealed processes underlying his authorship. Ultimately, it serves to shape our understanding of the development of the modern novel.

Excerpt

The purpose of this book is to present a collation and critical interpretation of the revisions made to Hardy’s holograph manuscript of Far from the Madding Crowd for its first publication in The Cornhill Magazine (Smith, Elder & Co., 1874). In order to highlight all interlinear and proof revisions of this manuscript I have included, with each and every citation, a corresponding citation from The Cornhill Magazine in so far as it differs from the original. Hardy’s holograph manuscript provided the copy-text, albeit with variations, for the Cornhill which, in turn, provided the copy-text for all subsequent editions including those we read today.

Hardy’s post-Cornhill revisions effected very few substantive changes; most were confined to enlarging and defining the topography of ‘Wessex’ (see Appendices). His most extensive revisions occur either within the manuscript itself or at the proof-revision stage for the Cornhill. This is discounting accidentals. In keeping with the prevailing practice at the time, Hardy left the final punctuation of his text to the Cornhill compositors, who were instructed in the house-style of Smith, Elder & Co. Within the holograph manuscript itself there is no consistency of punctuation; there are long stretches of unmarked dialogue, exclamation marks used where compositors placed question marks and, in general, a decidedly ‘open’ punctuation. In revising for the Wessex editions of his novels in the 1890s Hardy made widespread removals of the commas supplied by his publisher’s house-style; this conforms to his original method of writing with minimum use of commas in the holograph version of Far from the Madding Crowd.

What follows here is for the consideration of readers who may like to know something about my own methodology and the two textual versions of Hardy’s novel I shall be comparing and contrasting. My focus throughout this book is upon the creative mind at work; I have, therefore, taken the manuscript and the Cornhill versions side by side, reading the one alongside the other just as Hardy’s editor, Leslie Stephen, would have examined the one before admitting it into publication in the other. Where Hardy, sometimes on Stephen’s advice and sometimes under the pressure . . .

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