Cover image for Ambivalence in Hardy : a study of his attitude to women
Ambivalence in Hardy : a study of his attitude to women
Dutta, Shanta, 1962-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Palgrave, [2000]

Physical Description:
xi, 256 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm

Format :


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PR4757.W6 D87 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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This book re-examines the critical debate regarding Hardy's attitude to women: apologist or misogynist? With the help of manuscript evidence and references to Hardy's autobiography, letters, literary notebooks, marginalia, and the letters of his wives, this book combines a biographical approach with a feminist reading. Significant space is devoted to the 'minor' novels, the short stories, and to Hardy's real life literary relations with his contemporary women writers, his protégées and his two 'scribbling' wives, to balance the hitherto exclusive focus on the 'major' novels.

Author Notes

Shanta Dutta is a Reader in the Department of English. Jadavpur University, Calcutta.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Though Thomas Hardy has not been neglected by critics, Dutta's intelligent and eloquent study of the novelist's ambivalent attitude toward women offers material not otherwise obtainable, even in a majestic biography such as Martin Seymour-Smith's Hardy (1994); Paul Turner's shorter critical biography The Life of Thomas Hardy (CH, Jun'98); or briefer studies like John Goode's Thomas Hardy: The Offensive Truth (1988) and Anne Smith's edited volume The Novels of Thomas Hardy (1979) (though the last contains Rosalind Miles's valuable essay "The Women of Wessex"). Drawing on previously available material (Hardy's family letters, notebooks, literary publications) and unpublished material in the Dorset County Museum, Dutta (Jadavpur Univ., India) finds a split in Hardy's attitude: Hardy favors "certain revolutionary ideas on women's rights" yet sometimes cannot surmount "the gender-stereotyping of his age." One of Dutta's noteworthy observations concerns Hardy's "changing responses to the suffrage movement": initial skepticism led to ultimate sympathy. Dutta omits Tess of the d'Urbervilles (1889) from consideration because she found no ambivalence there, which is understandable; but not understandable is her omission of Hardy's Platonic-ideal novel The Well-Beloved (1897), despite her plan of choosing "representative" novels over the decades. Recommended with the above caveat for all academic collections. ; California State Polytechnic University, Pomona

Table of Contents

Prefacep. ix
1 Introduction: The Critics' Debatep. 1
2 The Hand of Ethelbertap. 23
3 The Return of the Nativep. 37
4 Two on a Towerp. 57
5 The Woodlandersp. 73
6 The Short Stories of the 1890sp. 93
7 Jude the Obscurep. 111
8 Hardy, his Wives, and his Literary Protegeesp. 131
9 Hardy and Some Contemporary Female Writersp. 161
10 Conclusion: 'A Confused Heap of Impressions'p. 199
Notesp. 221
Indexp. 247