Tuesday, 9 November 2010

The Hand of Ethelberta by Thomas Hardy

I decided to read 'The Hand of Ethelberta: a comedy in chapters' by Thomas Hardy (Macmillan, London, 1975). I love Thomas Hardy, but had not read this one before. However, I was pretty disappointed, it has to be said (so much so that I did not actually finish it). The Introduction by Robert Gittings, in this case, proved to be absolutely right; he said that the book was 'the joker in the pack'. And then goes on to say that "...it fascinates by its very strangeness. Among much that may seem clumsy or fumbling, there are flashes of amazing insight and poetic delicacy." (p. 15) However: "The truth is that a large part of Ethelberta is badly written, and often shows Hardy at his worst in style and thought." (p.18) I quite agree
The book deals with some important topics; class issues and the struggles a woman faces (Ethelberta) in trying to be a writer. But Ethelberta drifts from one group of people to the next; from one society to the next; the book is just not well-written and does not engage the readers attention. Oh well - can't win them all!

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