Thomas Hardy: The Excluded and Collaborative Stories

Thomas Hardy: The Excluded and Collaborative Stories

Thomas Hardy: The Excluded and Collaborative Stories

Thomas Hardy: The Excluded and Collaborative Stories


Included in this edition are ten stories which were never collected into volumes during Hardy's lifetime. Some contain references to actual people, or plot elements that he reused elsewhere, and others, such as his stories for children, were simply too different from his other work in the short story form. Although all of these stories occupy significant positions within Hardy's career, none has previously received serious editorial treatment. For the most part they have been ignored, lightly passed over, or misinterpreted by critics and biographers. This edition remedies some of the deficiencies in Hardy scholarship, both in its historical introductions and in its critically edited texts, which are based on full collations of all editions published before Hardy's death and all surviving manuscripts, typescripts, and previously neglected proofs.


This edition brings together for the first time those stories of Thomas Hardy's which were excluded from the collective volumes published during his lifetime: "'How I Built Myself a House'", "'Destiny and a Blue Cloak'", "'The Thieves Who Couldn't Help Sneezing'", "'An Indiscretion in the Life of an Heiress'", "'Our Exploits at West Poley'", "'Old Mrs Chundle'", and "'The Doctor's Legend'". Also collected here are Hardy collaborative stories, "'The Spectre of the Real'", 'Blue Jimmy: The Horse Stealer', and "'The Unconquerable'", the first written in collaboration with Florence Henniker, the latter two with Florence Dugdale. Although these works occupy significant, if sometimes minor, positions within Hardy's career as a writer of fiction, none of them has received serious editorial treatment in the past or currently exists in any kind of reliable published edition. For the most part they have also been ignored or lightly passed over by critics and biographers, and such discussion as they have aroused has generally been based on false (because unexamined) assumptions. This edition seeks to eliminate some of these deficiencies in Hardy scholarship.

The act of bringing together these ten stories perhaps suggests a coherence they do not in fact possess. Each story is an individual work, meriting treatment as such, and its unique conditions of composition and publication (or non-publication) have been carefully considered, in so far as they are now recoverable, when making editorial decisions. At the same time, those decisions have been based on a general policy which, as the title of this volume suggests, is both author-centric and -- in relation to the collaborative stories -- Hardy- centric. While it is clearly necessary, as Jerome J. McGann and D. F. McKenzie have demonstrated, to recognize that the process of textual production with its attendant editorial and compositorial collaboration (desired or undesired) is an inevitable and determining cultural phenomenon, it has seemed essential to emphasize the authorial function and responsibility in editing a collection held together only by the common (co-)authorship of the stories and concerned primarily with Hardy's creative process as exemplified in both original composition and revision. In any case, not all of the stories could be approached as products of their publication conditions, since not all were published.

That Hardy did not willingly submit his work to the vagaries of the production process emerges clearly from his holograph note on the typescript used as setting copy for 'The Spectre of the Real': 'To the printer: Insert all accents & hyphens, & punctuate precisely as in copy. T.H.' This injunction was not sufficient to prevent numerous variants being introduced into the proofs, but the fact that Hardy left most of these 'uncorrected' seems to constitute a merely passive endorsement rather than an expression of active preference. In this edition, then, the consistent aim has been to remove identifiable errors or intrusions on the part of amanuenses, typists, editors, and compositors and so recover, as far as possible, Hardy's own 'intentions' for each text.

The question of which authorial 'intentions' to privilege -- first, final, or something in between -- is less problematic for the stories collected here than for any of Hardy's other fiction, precisely because they were not included in the Macmillan Wessex Edition which Hardy painstakingly prepared in his early seventies and thereafter considered 'definitive'. Indeed, none of these stories was revised by . . .

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