Synopses & Reviews
When Elfride Swancourt meets Stephen Smith, she is attracted not only to his handsome face and gentle bearing but also to the sense of mystery which surrounds him. Distressed to find that the mystery consists only in the humbleness of his origins, she nonetheless remains true to their youthful vows. But societal pressures, combined with the advent of the intellectually superior Henry Knight, eventually displace her affections. Knight, however, proves to be an uncompromising moralist who, obsessed with fears about Elfride's sexual past, destroys her happiness.
In writing of this poignant struggle between classes and sexes, Hardy drew heavily on his own relationships with his family, fiancée, and closest friend. In the Introduction to this new edition, Pamela Dalziel discovers fascinating parallels between Hardy's life and his art, and probes the paradoxes lying behind his portrayal of these complex characters and the society which shapes them.
Wordsworth Classics covers a huge list of beloved works of literature in English and translations. This growing series is rigorously updated, with scholarly introductions and notes added to new titles.
The tragic story of Elfride Swancourt, caught between the love of handsome, gentle Stephen Smith and the intellectually superior Henry Knight, Stephen's mentor. Hardy was able to use this tale to shed light on the struggle between the classes and sexes in the England of that time.
About the Author
Thomas Hardy was born on June 2, 1840. In his writing, he immortalized the site of his birth—Egdon Heath, in Dorset, near Dorchester. Delicate as a child, he was taught at home by his mother before he attended grammar school. At sixteen, Hardy was apprenticed to an architect, and for many years, architecture was his profession; in his spare time, he pursued his first and last literary love, poetry. Finally convinced that he could earn his living as an author, he retired from architecture, married, and devoted himself to writing. An extremely productive novelist, Hardy published an important book every year or two. In 1896, disturbed by the public outcry over the unconventional subjects of his two greatest novels—Tess of the DUrbervilles and Jude the Obscure—he announced that he was giving up fiction and afterward produced only poetry. In later years, he received many honors. He died on January 11, 1928, and was buried in Poets Corner, in Westminster Abbey. It was as a poet that he wished to be remembered, but today critics regard his novels as his most memorable contribution to English literature for their psychological insight, decisive delineation of character, and profound presentation of tragedy.