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Thomas Hardy: The Complete Poems Paperback – 15 Sep 2011
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'When the paperback of Gibson's Complete Poems is in stock, why buy anything else?' - Professor Dennis Taylor, University of Boston
'Don't order a selection at all if you can get the Complete Poems.' - Professor William Morgan, State University of Illinois
Thomas Hardy's first love was always poetry. It was not until 1898, when he was 58 years old, having already established his reputation with 14 novels and over 40 short stories, that his first book of poetry, "Wessex Poems" was published. For the final 30 years of his life he abandoned fiction and devoted himself entirely to poetry. It is a tribute to his remarkable powers of creativity that he is now not only regarded as one of the most important English novelists but is also recognized as a poet of major stature and ever increasing popularity. "The Complete Poems", edited by James Gibson, includes all of Hardy's prolific output of more than 900 poems, complemented by a detailed notes section. Collected in this single volume are his eight books of verse, all the uncollected poems, "Domicilium", and the songs from "The Dynasts".See all Product description
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This volume contains, as the title states, all of his poems (and he wrote a LOT of poetry). And the poems are consistently brilliant. It is a well edited volume, has a useful if short introduction and a map of TH's Wessex.
There are plenty of selected poems available, but with the Complete Poems available for just over fifteen quid, why bother with a mere selection?
I have to say that the outside lets it down - at least as regards the copy delivered to me. It turns out to be one of those 'print on demand' editions and you do NOT get the nice rural scene shown on the right, above (you don't get a dustjacket, either). You get a nasty, geometric design in shades of grey with plain black lettering in a black box; there is no dustjacket. The thing looks like a science textbook and is really not appropriate to its contents. I assume this is Palgrave Macmillan's all-purpose cover for 'print on demands'.
Inside, it contains all the poems Hardy is known to have written and they are laid out in clear and reasonable-sized print. There is little in the way of extras - a short introduction by Gibson and some notes at the back, mainly giving info on and differences in different publications of the individual poems (so you have to look elsewhere for help with dialect words, for instance). It has the usual indices of titles and first lines. It also has a handful of illustrations Hardy made for earlier publications of his poems.
If I go to the expense of buying a hardback I don't think it's unreasonable to expect something reasonably attractive and appropriate in external appearance (else I'd buy a paperback) and I shall be more careful in future.
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