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Paperback Well-beloved (Everyman's Library) Book

ISBN: 0460876252

ISBN13: 9780460876254

Well-beloved (Everyman's Library)

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Book Overview

Jocelyn seeks female prefection, ultimately he and Marcia are alike in that, like the rock of Portland, both have been sculpted by and subjected to the chisellings of time.

Customer Reviews

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Neglected Hardy

Jude the Obscure is often called Thomas Hardy's last novel, but 1897's The Well-Beloved came two years later. The latter would be significant for this alone, but it has many other points of artistic and historical significance; also, though far from Hardy's best, it is quite good in itself. All fans and critics should read it, not least because it was the last novel one of the world's greatest writers chose to give us and almost his last piece of fiction. The book has an interesting and complex publishing history. Hardy's novel Tess of the D'Urbervilles was rejected by his chosen serial publisher on sexual grounds, and he chose to cancel the contract and submit another serial later. The trouble he continued to have with Tess convinced him that his next novel, Jude the Obscure, would also be rejected, so he put it aside and wrote The Well-Beloved as the serial replacement instead. As this suggests, it appeared at a very important point. It was serialized just as Tess, which catapulted Hardy to worldwide fame and ignited a firestorm of controversy, was published as a novel. Though undeniably lesser, The Well-Beloved indeed shares much with Tess and Jude, not least in thematic terms. All three paint an extremely bleak picture of domestic life, particularly marriage, and otherwise heavily criticize other Victorian society aspects, sexual mores especially. Jude parallels are especially strong; some of The Well-Beloved narrator's marriage critiques were slightly modified and used in Jude, and there are obvious similarities between the books' heroines and their married interactions. All this would make the book invaluable to hard-cores and scholars as a snapshot of Hardy's thought and artistic concerns of the time even if it had no literary merit. The Well-Beloved is also of historical interest for reasons not directly related to Hardy. Most notably, it deals with contemporary concerns and events in a way Hardy had not previously done. A proto-feminist, he had long been concerned with women's issues, and the times were finally beginning to catch up. Modern feminism was beginning in earnest, as many 1890s novels - e.g., Kate Chopin's The Awakening - reflect in various ways. Hardy was of course no exception. He famously said in a contemporary letter that his goal was - I am paraphrasing - to destroy the doll in English fiction in order for England to have any kind of fiction at all. The Well-Beloved is an early attempt, certainly less overt than Tess and Jude but leaning in their direction. The three main female characters are certainly not models of current feminism but stand far above Victorian clichés as bold women with independent streaks, individual touches, and some clear merits. Hardy is famous for his heroines, and the book's three Avices are among his most overlooked. His novels had idealized women almost from the start but in a way very different from other Victorian writers, much less the social ideal. This has fascinated feminists and had a

Hardy's Fictional Swan Song

Jude the Obscure is often called Thomas Hardy's last novel, but 1897's The Well-Beloved came two years later. The latter would be significant for this alone, but it has many other points of artistic and historical significance; also, though far from Hardy's best, it is quite good in itself. All fans and critics should read it, not least because it was the last novel one of the world's greatest writers chose to give us and almost his last piece of fiction. The book has an interesting and complex publishing history. Hardy's novel Tess of the D'Urbervilles was rejected by his chosen serial publisher on sexual grounds, and he chose to cancel the contract and submit another serial later. The trouble he continued to have with Tess convinced him that his next novel, Jude the Obscure, would also be rejected, so he put it aside and wrote The Well-Beloved as the serial replacement instead. As this suggests, it appeared at a very important point. It was serialized just as Tess, which catapulted Hardy to worldwide fame and ignited a firestorm of controversy, was published as a novel. Though undeniably lesser, The Well-Beloved indeed shares much with Tess and Jude, not least in thematic terms. All three paint an extremely bleak picture of domestic life, particularly marriage, and otherwise heavily criticize other Victorian society aspects, sexual mores especially. Jude parallels are especially strong; some of The Well-Beloved narrator's marriage critiques were slightly modified and used in Jude, and there are obvious similarities between the books' heroines and their married interactions. All this would make the book invaluable to hard-cores and scholars as a snapshot of Hardy's thought and artistic concerns of the time even if it had no literary merit. The Well-Beloved is also of historical interest for reasons not directly related to Hardy. Most notably, it deals with contemporary concerns and events in a way Hardy had not previously done. A proto-feminist, he had long been concerned with women's issues, and the times were finally beginning to catch up. Modern feminism was beginning in earnest, as many 1890s novels - e.g., Kate Chopin's The Awakening - reflect in various ways. Hardy was of course no exception. He famously said in a contemporary letter that his goal was - I am paraphrasing - to destroy the doll in English fiction in order for England to have any kind of fiction at all. The Well-Beloved is an early attempt, certainly less overt than Tess and Jude but leaning in their direction. The three main female characters are certainly not models of current feminism but stand far above Victorian clichés as bold women with independent streaks, individual touches, and some clear merits. Hardy is famous for his heroines, and the book's three Avices are among his most overlooked. His novels had idealized women almost from the start but in a way very different from other Victorian writers, much less the social ideal. This has fascinated feminists and had a

One complaint regarding editor Norman Page

Far be it for me to argue with a professor emeritus at the prestigious U. of Nottingham, and a highly regarded literary scholar, but I have an axe to grind with Norman Page about a notation. Regarding this passage on page 81: "It was a young hand, rather long and thin, a little damp and coddled* from her slopping." Page says "the meaning [of coddled] is obscure - possibly `warm' or `heated' is meant." Anyone who cooks would recognize the word as meaning waterlogged in warm-to-hot water, as in a coddled egg. Ann Avice is, after all, a laundress, so she would naturally have dishpan hands. I'd send this note to the publisher, but I can't locate the company online. Otherwise, this is one of Hardy's finest novels, different in many meaningful ways from his previous novels. It's a must-read for a lover of Hardy, possibly more autobiographical even than "A Pair of Blue Eyes."

The well-beloved

As much as I love to read, I wasn't very convinced about this book when my dad picked it out. But I can now say it's one of the best books I have ever read. It's sad yet honest, beautifully written. I recommend this book highly.

How I came to accept that anatomy truly is destiny

Hardy has essentially written the same story twice here, with a few significant variations in the second version. This makes for a rather peculiar experience, as the reader will encounter identical passages in both versions. Nevertheless, I am haunted by this work and the insights it supplied. It explores the life of a man tormented by desire for an ideal love. Much to his chagrin, the ideal (referred to as the well-beloved) inhabits the bodies of a series of women, and never for long. He lives his life in anguished pursuit. What is truly upsetting is his total reliance on physical attributes, which becomes a source of humiliation as his life progresses. Hardy helped me understand how men approach women in a way no other writer has had the courage to explain. Once again, I am overwhelmed by his brutal honesty and unrelenting power. He will force you to open your eyes.
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