Life's Little Ironies, Paperback Book

Life's Little Ironies Paperback

Part of the Wordsworth Classics series

3.5 out of 5 (2 ratings)


Introduction and Notes by Dr Claire Seymour, University of Kent at Canterbury. The proverbial phrase 'life's little ironies' was coined by Hardy for his third volume of short stories.

These tales and sketches possess all the power of his novels: the wealth of description, the realistic portrayal of the quaint lore of Wessex, the 'Chaucerian' humour and characterisation, the shrewd and critical psychology, the poignant estimate of human nature and the brooding sense of wonder at the essential mystery of life. The tales which make up Life's Little Ironies tenderly re-create a rapidly vanishing rural world and scrutinise the repressions of fin-de-siecle bourgeois life.

They share the many concerns of Hardy's last great novels, such as the failure of modern marriage and the insidious effects of social ambition on the family and community life.

Ranging widely in length and complexity, they are unified by Hardy's quintessential irony, which embraces both the farcical and the tragic aspects of human existence.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Wordsworth Editions Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Classic fiction (pre c 1945)
  • ISBN: 9781853261787

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Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.

Review by

This is the third book of collected short stories by Thomas Hardy. Although it is a slim volume there 8 separate tales and, if you broke A Few Crusted Characters into its component parts, that number rises to 16. According to the back cover "The tales are thematically linked by a concern with the diverse problems of marriage..." It is certainly true that the course of marriage is seldom smooth when Hardy looks into it.Another common theme is women getting pregnant out of wedlock. I can only assume, given the prevalence of this in Hardy's work, that it was a common occurrence. This somewhat gives the lie to Victorians being prim and proper and sexless.I was surprised to realize that two of the stories "An Imaginative Woman" and "A Tragedy of Two Ambitions" were ones I had read before. I believe they were both in Tales from Wessex which I now believe was not quite the same as Wessex Tales. Very confusing!My favourite of all these stories is definitely the collected vignettes in "A Few Crusted Characters". Using the device of a former resident returning to Longpuddle who has to be told about people he used to know, various riders in a carrier's van tell stories. Some of them are funny, some are spooky and all are quintessentially Hardy. If you have never read Hardy before this would be a good place to start.

Review by

The short stories were fairly interesting, but instead of being "ironic," I found them to be more on the tragic side.

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