Title: ON THE WESTERN CIRCUIT (43pp Original ...
Publication Date: 1891
Book Condition: Very Good
Signed: Signed by Author
Edition: Original Manuscript.
Hardy, Thomas. ON THE WESTERN CIRCUIT. Complete original 43-page typescript with Hardy's extensive holograph revisions of this important Wessex short story which was first published in The English Illustrated Magazine (December, 1891), and later collected in Life’s Little Ironies (1894). First page slightly worn and soiled, else Very Good, the typescript consists of 43pp, 4to, one page trimmed to half size, with numerous holograph revisions throughout, many extending to several lines, and one whole page (numbered 27-28) entirely in Hardy's hand. In total, 38 of the 43 pages of this unexpected survival bear Hardy's deletions and insertions, representing an extensive re-working of the short story. While a manuscript version of "On The Western Circuit" was given by Hardy to the Manchester Central Public Library in 1911 under a different title, printer’s marks here indicate this to be the copy used to set the type for its initial periodical appearance. "On The Western Circuit" was composed between the completion of TESS OF THE D’URBERVILLES and the beginning of JUDE THE OBSCURE when Hardy was at the height of his fiction writing prowess. Its tragic story of a doomed courtship-by-letters is set in contemporary urban Melchester (Salisbury) and entangles a London lawyer, traveling ‘on the western circuit' of town-to-town judiciary matters, with two Wessex women (one bored and married, the other beautiful and illiterate), pursuing its dark and ironic anti-marriage theme both with an admirable economy of plot and an uncharacteristic sharp stab of realism. Thomas Hardy’s brilliant short fiction has long been hidden in the shadow cast by both his novels and poetry. But "On The Western Circuit" can fairly make the claim to be the best known of Hardy's forty-nine short stories. Under the name "Day After The Fair," it was successfully adapted for the London stage by Harold Pinter with Deborah Kerr in the starring role (1972), later developed into a two-hour BBC film which aired on PBS’ Masterpiece Theatre (1988), and most recently it was strikingly produced as a musical on the New York stage (1999). As Hardy gave away virtually all of his manuscripts while he was still alive, the survival of this revised typescript is no doubt due to the special requirements of its serial publication. The periodical editors of The English Illustrated Magazine characteristically imposed on Hardy certain restraints so he would not, as usual, offend the perceived Victorian taste of the time. Although Mrs. Harnham is here made a widow and there is no mention of Anna's pregnancy (as is found in the final version in Life’s Little Ironies), Hardy uses this revised typescript to do a more substantial exploration of his material. Almost all of the heaviest revision involves new phrases and changes which subtly increase the frankness of the characters' sexuality in counterpoint to his editorial instructions. Most important of all, here he adds in a long handwritten marginal paragraph, the key incident.Raye's accidental and erotic touch of Mrs. Harnham's hand at the crowded fair. which triggers the whole tragic consequence of the story. Provenance: Ex- A.P. Watt, Thomas Hardy's literary agent, who handled the publication of On The Western Circuit both in England (English Illustrated Magazine, December 1891) and in America (Harper's Weekly 28 November 1891). This typescript was sold at Sotheby’s London in December, 1988 (lot 47, GBP 28, 600). In the Collected Letters, Hardy writes Watt thanking him for his services in regard to this story's publication (January, 1892). See Purdy pp.81-86. Housed in a full green morocco folding box. Bookseller Inventory # 001952
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