on 6 August 1999
At heart, Hardy was a poet; but ironically, it was only when that 'heart' was broken - by the cold reception given to his final novels - that he was able fully to reveal it: he never wrote another story saying, 'My tales are told'.
This collection shows us why; for although Hardy was a magnificent 'teller of tales' his soul is laid bare only in his verse. From the wry humour of 'The Ruined Maid' to the sour reflectiveness of 'I Look Into My Glass' and the confessional eulogy of the sequence he wrote following the death of Emma, his first wife, Hardy at once invites us into his psyche and rejects the accompanying intimacy. Nowhere else did this supremely private man reveal so much.
To open this complete collection is to pass through the 'low door in the wall' which leads to a bitter-sweet garden of enchantment within which even Hardy is not totally at ease.
All lovers of the novels should not shrink from meeting the 'complete' man in this 'Complete Collection'.