ABSTRACT

There are two main ‘lines of descent’ (as Samuel Hynes calls them) of Hardy’s texts, which were not properly collated in his lifetime. One is based on revisions which he began to make in 1909, when a complete collection of his poetry was suggested by his publisher. That project was delayed by the war, and only completed by the appearance of the Collected Poems in 1919. More revisions were incorporated into successive editions of the Collected Poems from 1919 through to 1928. The other line of descent is based on a separate set of revisions which Hardy made in 1911 for the Wessex Edition of 1912, and continued to make in Wessex Edition texts, as well as in related editions like the Mellstock Edition of 1920 (see Hynes, CPW I, xi-xxiii; Schweik 1984). The first series of revisions began with the Wessex Poems and Poems of the Past and the Present, which were set in 1909 and then left, Hynes suggests, almost a decade. It is in the two early volumes that the differences between the two lines of transmission are most apparent, and where there is sometimes an uncertainty about the exact point at which revisions were made in the Collected Poems line. In the later volumes, the differences are smaller, partly because Hardy made sporadic attempts at collation, though in general his texts remained in relative disarray, with separate corrections made in reprints of individual volumes as well as those in the collected editions.