The Hand Of Ethelberta, A Comedy In Chapters

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Publisher: New York, Harper
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The Hand of Ethelberta (Barnes & Noble Digital Library): A Comedy in Chapters

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Overview

Publisher: New York, Harper
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781152169623
  • Publisher: General Books LLC
  • Publication date: 1/2/2010
  • Pages: 262
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.59 (d)

Meet the Author

Thomas Hardy
Thomas Hardy
Victorian novelist and poet Thomas Hardy focused much of his work -- including classics like Far from the Madding Crowd (1874) and Tess of the d'Urbervilles (1891) on man's futile struggle against unseen forces. Of his rather unromantic outlook on life, Hardy once said, "Pessimism is, in brief, playing the sure game. You cannot lose at it; you may gain. It is the only view of life in which you can never be disappointed."

Biography

Thomas Hardy was born on June 2, 1840, in the village of Higher Bockhampton, near Dorchester, a market town in the county of Dorset. Hardy would spend much of his life in his native region, transforming its rural landscapes into his fictional Wesses. Hardy's mother, Jemima, inspired him with a taste for literature, while his stonemason father, Thomas, shared with him a love of architecture and music (the two would later play the fiddle at local dances). As a boy Hardy read widely in the popular fiction of the day, including the novels of Scott, Dumas, Dickens, W. Harrison Ainsworth, and G.P.R. James, and in the poetry of Scott, Wordsworth, Byron, Shelley, Keats, and others. Strongly influenced in his youth by the Bible and the liturgy of the Anglican Church, Hardy later contemplated a career in the ministry; but his assimilation of the new theories of Darwinian evolutionism eventually made him an agnostic and a severe critic of the limitations of traditional religion.

Although Hardy was a gifted student at the local schools he attended as a boy for eight years, his lower-class social origins limited his further educational opportunities. At sixteen, he was apprenticed to architect James Hicks in Dorchester and began an architectural career primarily focused on the restoration of churches. In Dorchester Hardy was also befriended by Horace Moule, eight years Hardy's senior, who acted as an intellectual mentor and literary adviser throughout his youth and early adulthood. From 1862 to 1867 hardy worked in London for the distinguished architect Arthur Blomfeld, but he continued to study -- literature, art, philosophy, science, history, the classics -- and to write, first poetry and then fiction.

In the early 1870s Hardy's first two published novels, Desperate Remedies and Under the Greenwood Tree, appeared to little acclaim or sales. With his third novel, A Pair of Blue Eyes, he began the practice of serializing his fiction in magazines prior to book publication, a method that he would utilize throughout his career as a novelist. In 1874, the year of his marriage to Emma Gifford of St. Juliot, Cornwall, Hardy enjoyed his first significant commercial and critical success with the book publication of Far from the Madding Crowd after its serialization in the Cornhill Magazine. Hardy and his wife lived in several locations in London, Dorset, and Somerset before settling in South London for three years in 1878. During the late 1870s and early 1880s, Hardy published The Return of the Native, The Trumpet-Major, A Laodicean, and Two on a Tower while consolidating his pace as a leading contemporary English novelist. He would also eventually produce four volumes of short stories: Wessex Tales, A Group of Noble Dames, Life's Little Ironies, and A Changed Man.

In 1883, Hardy and his wife moved back to Dorchester, where Hardy wrote The Mayor of Casterbridge, set in a fictionalized version of Dorchester, and went on to design and construct a permanent home for himself, named Max Gate, completed in 1885. In the later 1880s and early 1890s Hardy wrote three of his greatest novels, The Woodlanders, Tess of the d'Urbevilles, and Jude the Obscure, all of them notable for their remarkable tragic power. The latter two were initially published as magazine serials in which Hardy removed potentially objectionable moral and religious content, only to restore it when the novels were published in book form; both novels nevertheless aroused public controversy for their criticisms of Victorian sexual and religious mores. In particular, the appearance of Jude the Obscure in 1895 precipitated harsh attacks on Hardy's alleged pessimism and immorality; the attacks contributed to his decision to abandon the writing of fiction after the appearance of his last-published novel, The Well-Beloved.

In the later 1890s Hardy returned to the writing of poetry that he had abandoned for fiction thirty years earlier. Wessex Poems appeared in 1898, followed by several volumes of poetry at regular intervals over the next three decades. Between 1904 and 1908 Hardy published a three-part epic verse drama, The Dynasts, based on the Napoleonic Wars of the early nineteenth century. Following the death of his first wife in 1912, Hardy married his literary secretary Florence Dugdale in 1914. Hardy received a variety of public honors in the last two decades of his life and continued to publish poems until his death at Max Gate on January 11, 1928. His ashes were interred in the Poets' Corner of Westminster Abbey in London and his heart in Stinsford outside Dorchester. Regarded as one of England's greatest authors of both fiction and poetry, Hardy has inspired such notable twentieth-century writers as Marcel Proust, John Cowper Powys, D. H. Lawrence, Theodore Dreiser, and John Fowles.

Author biography from the Barnes & Noble Classics edition of Far from the Madding Crowd.

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    1. Date of Birth:
      June 2, 1840
    2. Place of Birth:
      Higher Brockhampon, Dorset, England
    1. Date of Death:
      January 11, 1928
    2. Place of Death:
      Max Gate, Dorchester, England
    1. Education:
      Served as apprentice to architect James Hicks

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 4, 2002

    One of Hardy's best

    The Hand of Ethelberta starts well, maintains its' lively pace through the middle with many plots and schemes all throughout, and finishes well to boot; but not in the way one first expects it to conclude. Ethelberta, Hardy's heroine for this book, is one of the most complex characters in Hardy's work. She is the daughter of a butler, who, being ambitious, aspires to raise herself up through a well placed marriage with someone of wealth and class. (As the story begins she has done this once already and became widowed a mere 3 weeks later.) She is cunning and resourceful in ways few others are, but, while being driven in part by motives not entirely selfish, seems at times cold and calculating. She is pursued first by an old lover, Christopher Julian. Mr. Julian was once a potential marriage for her but she opted for his rival, Mr. Petherwin, instead. He has since fallen into ruin after the death of his father and, being penniless, turned to his hobby of music for his profession. His lone companion at this point in his life is his sister, Faith, with whom he lives. But Mr. Julian has rivals. There is Mr.Neigh, the nephew of an influential family, with whom she is acquainted with by the name of Doncastle, who is said to be independently rich and known to be more than a little aloof, if not eccentric. And there is Mr.Ladywell. A painter of moderate celebrity but is from a good family and is wealthy, of course. As if things weren't bad enough, there is Lord Mountclere, a rich and powerful womanizer, whose enjoyment of the childish games he plays is fueled as much by his jealousy as by his sense of power. Hardy gives this story its' tension by making Ethelberta's lineage unknown to all concerned, but already known to Mr. Julian. In Hardy's time social class was EVERYTHING. The upperclass was for the upperclass only. The lower class was expected to keep its' respectful distance and know its' place. Ethelberta had dined at their houses, attended their gatherings, not as a member of her own true class, but as an equal. This would have been scandalous in its' day. To have excepted the daughter of a servant as an equal to those with money, education, and worldly opportunity and experience would have been unheard of. A marriage with an upperclass bachelor to that of a woman whose lower class pedigree is confirmed by her father's occupation, that being a butler, could hardly be expected to be entered into knowingly. Hardy gives us other characters that balance out the narrative. There is Picotee, one of Ethelberta's sisters, who falls in love with Mr.Julian. Her invalid mother, Mrs. Chickerel, who is afraid of almost everything except giving unsolicited commentary and advice peppered with her own doubts and misgivings. Her father, Mr. Chickerel, who tries to be fatherly on occasion but really only seems fit to be a butler. There is Mr. Mountclere, the brother of Lord Mountclere, whose condescending manners are the stuff revolutions are fueled by. And last but not least there is the perfidious Miss Menlove, whom the men certainly do seem to love but are never really more than a flirtatious fling to her, who threatens to be Ethelberta's undoing. For fans of Victorian Literature already acquainted with Hardy's work or not, Make This Purchase Now! With a rich story line and its' incredible heroine, Ethelberta, this novel deserves to be read.

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