The Withered Arm and Other Stories by Kristin Brady & Thomas Hardy
(Penguin Classics)

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Synopsis

"See if she is dark or fair, and if you can, notice if her hands be white; if not, see if they look as though she had ever done housework, or are milker's hands like mine."



So Rhoda Brook, the abandoned mistress of Farmer Lodge, is jealous to discover details of his new bride in 'The Withered Arm', the title story in this selection of Hardy's finest short stories. Hardy's first story, 'Destiny and a Blue Cloak' was written fresh from the success of Far From the Madding Crowd. Beautiful in their own right, these stories are also testing-grounds for the novels in their controversial sexual politics, their refusal of romance structures, and their elegiac pursuit of past, lost loves.


Several of the stories in The Withered Arm were collected to form the famous volume, Wessex Tales (1888), the first time Hardy denoted 'Wessex' to describe his fictional world. The Withered Arm is the first of a new two-volume selection of Hardy's short stories, edited with an introduction and notes by Kristin Brady.

 

About Kristin Brady & Thomas Hardy

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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 D'Urbervilles 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 Poet's 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.
 
Published August 31, 2006 by Penguin. 458 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

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