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A Pair of Blue Eyes (Oxford World's Classics)
Synopses & Reviews
Purchase one of 1st World Library's Classic Books and help support our free internet library of downloadable eBooks. Visit us online at www.1stWorldLibrary.ORG - - The following chapters were written at a time when the craze for indiscriminate church-restoration had just reached the remotest nooks of western England, where the wild and tragic features of the coast had long combined in perfect harmony with the crude Gothic Art of the ecclesiastical buildings scattered along it, throwing into extraordinary discord all architectural attempts at newness there. To restore the grey carcases of a mediaevalism whose spirit had fled, seemed a not less incongruous act than to set about renovating the adjoining crags themselves. Hence it happened that an imaginary history of three human hearts, whose emotions were not without correspondence with these material circumstances, found in the ordinary incidents of such church-renovations a fitting frame for its presentation.
This novel is of special interest because of the strong autobiographical parallels between the characters and circumstances of Stephen Smith and Elfride Swancourt and those of Hardy and his first wife Emma Gifford. This was the third of Hardy's novels to be published and the first to bear his name.
Elfride Swancourt is the daughter of the Rector of Endelstow, a remote sea-swept parish in Corwall based on St Juliot, where Hardy began A Pair of Blue Eyes during the beginning of his courtship of his first wife, Emma. Blue-eyed and high-spirited, Elfride has little experience of the world beyond, and becomes entangled with two men: the boyish architect, Stephen Smith, and the older literary man, Henry Knight. The former friends become rivals, and Elfride faces an agonizing choice.
Written at a crucial time in Hardy's life, A Pair of Blue Eyes expresses more directly than any of his novels the events and social forces that made him the writer he was. Elfride's dilemma mirrors the difficult decision Hardy himself had to make with this novel: to pursue the profession of architecture, where he was established, or literature, where he had yet to make his name. This updated edition contains a new introduction, bibliography, and chronology.
About the Author
Alan Manford is Head of English at Holy Trinity School, Birmingham, U,K.
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