About The Pursuit of the Well-Beloved and The Well-Beloved
In The Pursuit of the Well-Beloved (1892) and The Well-Beloved (1897), Hardy writes two different versions of a strange story set in the weird landscape of Portland.The central figure is a man obsessed both with the search for his ideal woman and with sculpting the perfect figure of a naked Aphrodite. The pursuit finally fixes on three women called Avice Caro—grandmother, mother and daughter—in a way that mixes tragedy and high farce.
The books were written one before and one after his “last” novel, Jude the Obscure (1895). Both stories are richly ambiguous but the first shows the successful exercise of masculine power and the second shows women triumphant. The double work, coming at the end of Hardy’s long career as a novelist, anticipates modernist writing by offering not merely alternative endings but alternative plots. This edition is the first to provide both separate texts and separate commentaries. In her introduction, Patricia Ingham explores Hardy’s preoccupation with contingency and ‘might-have-beens’ in female-male relationships.
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About Thomas Hardy
Thomas Hardy, whose writing immortalized the Wessex countryside and dramatized his sense of the inevitable tragedy of life, was born at Upper Bockhampton, near Stinsford in Dorset in 1840, the eldest child of a prosperous stonemason. As a youth he… More about Thomas Hardy
Published by Penguin Classics Apr 01, 1998| 416 Pages| ISBN 9780140435191