The Well-Beloved By Thomas Hardy

3 December 2007

Now this is a great novella. A sculptor growing up on a small, quarried island just off the Dorset coast, is afflicted by this condition whereby he falls in love with ‘the well-beloved’ in a woman, and that this essence of feminity, this life principle, jumps from woman to woman in a maddeningly capricious fashion.

I think it’s one of the most self-knowing, revelatory pieces that Hardy ever wrote: it is a parable about male desire which goes beyond the merely Freudian, and suggests that sexual desire is almost a spiritual desire. The book is haunted by multiple ironies and plot twists. Highly recommended.

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