Wessex Tales

Wessex Tales

Wessex Tales

Wessex Tales


In this, his first collection of short stories, Hardy sought to record the legends, superstitions, local customs, and lore of a Wessex that was rapidly passing out of memory. But these tales also portray the social and economic stresses of 1880s Dorset, and reveal Hardy's growing scepticism about the possibility of achieving personal and sexual satisfaction in the modern world. By turns humorous, ironic, macabre, and elegiac, these seven stories show the range of Hardy's story-telling genius. The critically established text, the first to be based on detailed study of all revised texts, presents manuscript readings which have never before appeared in print. The stories include The Three Strangers; A Tradition of Eighteen Hundred and Four; The Melancholy Hussar of the German Legion; The Withered Arm; Fellow-Townsmen; Interlopers at the Knap; The Distracted Preacher


The first concern in The World's Classics editions of Hardy's works has been with the texts. Individual editors have compared every version of the novel or stories that Hardy might have revised, and have noted variant readings in words, punctuation, and styling in each of these substantive texts; they have thus been able to exclude much that their experience suggests that Hardy did not intend. In some cases this is the first time that the novel has appeared in a critical edition purged of errors and oversights; where possible Hardy's manuscript punctuation is used, rather than what his compositors thought he should have written.

Some account of the editors' discoveries will be found in the Note on the Text in each volume, while the most interesting revisions their work has revealed are included as an element of the Explanatory Notes. In some cases a Clarendon Press edition of the novel provides a wealth of further material for the reader interested in the way Hardy's writing developed from manuscript to final collected edition.

I should like to thank Shirley Tinkler for her help in drawing the maps that accompany each volume.


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