Introduction and Notes by Jane Thomas, University of Hull. The
Well-Beloved completes the cycle of Hardy's great novels,
reiterating his favourite themes of man's eternal quest for
perfection in both love and art, and the suffering that ensues.
Jocelyn Pierston, celebrated sculptor, tries to create an image of
his ideal woman - his imaginary Well-Beloved - in stone, just as he
tries to find her in the flesh. Powerful symbolism marks this
romantic fantasy that Hardy has grounded firmly in reality with a
characteristically authentic rendering of location, the Isle of
Slingers, or Portland as we know it. Overt exploration of the
relationship between erotic fascination and creativity makes this
novel a nineteenth-century landmark in the persistent debate about
art, aesthetics and gender. This volume breaks new ground by
including in full the1892 serialised version of the novel - The
Pursuit of the Well-Beloved.
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