16 AUGUST 1930, Page 21

Translated by Mr. Felix W. Crosse from the French of

M. Pierre d'Exideuil, The Iluntan Pair in the Work of Thomas Hardy (Humphrey Toulmin, 10s. 6d.) is an essay on the sexual problem as treated in the Wessex novels and poems. The book makes difficult reading ; it is circumlocutory and tautological, and its main theme—analysing the manner in which Hardy delighted to represent insignificant human beings, against a spacious background of Nature, as the unconscious victims in their passions of the Inunanent W'ill- is over elaborated. Even Mr. Havelock Ellis in his foreword, while praising M. d'Exideuil for his frankness, warns us against the danger of supposing that Hardy, a "wayward" artist, was inspired by any deliberate philosophical " system." Nevertheless, this volume repays a not too solemn perusal, for its digressions are often better than its central argument. Some of M. d'Exideuil's comparisons between English and Continental literature are interesting, and his defence of Hardy against the charge of extreme pessimism is thoroughly sound. Hardy's pessimism, he says, was " much more an eradication of illusions than an infectious prompting to despair." It was, in large measure, a " precautionary " pessimism : the resolve of a sensitive and fundamentally idealistic mind to be armoured against undue disappointment by facing from the start the possible worst in life.

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