Far from the Madding Crowd

transcribed from the manuscript by Rosemarie Morgan

Penguin World Classics, 2000.



This text brings into publication for the very first time the holograph manuscript of Far From the Madding Crowd, commissioned in 1873 by Leslie Stephen, editor of the Cornhill Magazine, and issued in twelve monthly instalments running from January to December 1874. The manuscript was tentatively begun in September 1873 and completed in August 1874. Hardy never set eyes on it again. As his work in progress appeared in print, month by month, so his manuscript vanished, month by month, into the vaults of Smith, Elder and Co. It was only recovered by chance in 1918 when, with Hardy's permission, it was sold to raise funds for the Red Cross and the war effort (see R. M's Introduction).

The number of manuscript chapters submitted for each Cornhill instalment fell between three and five, most of unequal length. Hardy did not number his chapters, presumably anticipating editorial changes and advice on instalment length. Nor did he attempt any kind of coherent numeration until all the various textual portions pertaining to the chapters in progress had been properly compiled; in fact, many manuscript leaves bear the deleted markings of an earlier pagination. Nor did he necessarily adhere to his original chapter titles. He frequently modified these, in interlinear revision, to accommodate his own changes in chapter content -- as and when people and events veered off in a direction hitherto unforseen in his first conception of things.

A close study of the manuscript suggests that Hardy did not, in fact, feel strictly bound by any particular serial structure, such as creating a cliffhanger, or small crisis, or an unresolved conflict, or even a knotty misunderstanding or two, at the close of each instalment. Initially, for example, he wrote Oak's early marriage proposal into a chapter entitled "Short account of Gabriel Oak's love affair till a crisis came" (IV), but when the proposal scene turned out to be something of a divertissement rather than a dramatic "crisis" he changed the chapter title to "Gabriel's resolve: the visit: the mistake." Whereupon, now feeling his way towards a more auspicious turning point, he then devised the "pastoral tragedy" chapter (V), and it was this "crisis" that Leslie Stephen finally used to conclude the first January number. But even in this instance the "tragedy" chapter shows a certain indeterminacy of direction (see notes, V), whereas the "Fire" chapter (VI) which follows it actually provides the most dramatic crisis of all. How better to conclude an instalment if not with a valiant firefighter's sudden and unexpected confrontation with the beloved woman he thought he had lost -- with Bathsheba's slow unveiling and Oak's abashed voice saying "Do you want a shepherd, ma'am?" But, as it happened, the "Fire" episode did not end the first number but rather opened the second.

Evidently instalment length rather than intensity of crisis-point determined the choice of concluding chapter in this instance. But the most important consideration here -- as far as the composition process was concerned -- is that the internal stresses and dramatic conflicts of the story seem to have determined their own periods of irresolution and their own points of crisis; they appear to be less bound by serialisation structures than by their own natural rhythms. The exception to this might be the denouement which suffers the familiar fate of having to be buckled into shape, and there was certainly an occasional incompatibility between the flow of the manuscript text and the demands of periodical form. But on the whole, each instalment's closing chapter depended primarily upon the overall length of the monthly number and not upon a plotted series of textual knots.

Accordingly, for presentation purposes, this edition follows the1874 serial arrangement of chapter clusters, excluding Helen Paterson's woodcut illustrations as designed for each Cornhill number with the illustrated plate facing the new instalment's title page. This edition also follows the serial arrangement in one other respect: the inclusion of the extraneous, two-page, "All Saints' and All Souls'" chapter (XVI) featuring Fanny's and Troy's aborted attempt at marriage. I take this insert to be intrinsic to Hardy's original text despite the fact that it was grafted on to the story on proofsheets and does not represent an extant part of the holograph manuscript. Following Stephen's advice on pace and plot, Hardy shortened the lengthy, and rather meandering Chapter XV featuring the "Malthouse" garrulous gossipers, and inserted the "All Saints" piece to tighten up the slack midpoint section of the April issue. To omit this chapter simply to preserve the integrity of this manuscript-based edition seems overly scrupulous given that there are probably innumerable invisible ways in which its inclusion shaped Hardy's creation of all that followed thereafter in the novel's ultimate development (Penguin editors did not follow me in this, despite the fact that Hardy composed this chapter in full flow of the serialisation process) .

The Cornhill edition has, up to the present day, provided the copy-text for all other editions. The first of these was published by Smith, Elder & Co., on November 23 1874, a few days before the final December issue appeared. With the book's instant success and rapid sell-out George Smith printed a slightly revised second impression in late February 1875 (erroneously dated 1874). This two-volume edition, being costly at twenty-one shillings, was succeeded by a less expensive, one-volume edition in 1877. This, too, was basically a resetting of the Cornhill text, although Hardy had made one or two substantive revisions in the meantime, in response to outside criticism.

To R.H. Hutton's complaint in The Spectator that Jan Coggan carries in his waistcoat pocket a repeater-watch ill-befitting his station in life, which "seems to suggest a totally different world of physical belongings," Hardy promptly responded by adding a justifying phrase: "which he had inherited from some genius in his family" (see notes, XXXII). Hutton's class-assumptions notwithstanding, inherited watches do reflect a strong ancestral tradition in Hardy's tale. Equally they function symbolically (notably in Oak's case) or as the agency of the plot (Troy), and Coggan, himself, not only tracks Bathsheba with the aid of his hour-striking watch but is also one of the first to trace Fanny Robbin's whereabouts and to blurt out undisclosed information.

Alternatively, with Hutton's suggestion of textual imitation in Chapter XVIII -- "The following passage strikes us as a study almost in the nature of a careful caricature of George Eliot" -- Hardy not only deleted the offending piece in a description of Boldwood but also abbreviated the entire passage for the 1877 revised edition.

Of greater significance were those revisions Hardy made at this time accentuating Troy's blueblood lineage and illegitimate birth. These are significant first of all because, as the manuscript's interlinear and proof revisions show, Troy had, from the outset, attracted Hardy's continuing interest more than any other male character in Far From the Madding Crowd. And second, because this particularly keen focus on the intersection of class dominance and sexual exploitation was later to develop into an important theme in several of his works.

In the meantime the Cornhill text had been serialised in the United States in Every Saturday (although this ceased publication in October 1874), Littell's Living Age, Eclectic Magazine, and the New York Semi-Weekly Tribune from 1874 to 1875. The first American book edition was published in November 1874 by Henry Holt. Although this was based on the Cornhill text the resetting is unreliable and, in the final instalments, noticeably incompatible with both the manuscript and Cornhill versions. Fully reliable, in more senses than one, was the large German publishing house of Tauchnitz. In 1878 Tauchnitz brought out a two-volume edition (no significant revisions) based on the Smith, Elder 1977 text. Unlike several of his American counterparts, and notwithstanding the lack of international copyright laws, Baron von Tauchnitz neither pirated nor bowdlerised the works of foreign authors, and willingly paid for their intellectual property. In Hardy's case this clearly paid off: after numerous reprintings Far From the Madding Crowd was still featuring on Tauchnitz's "500 Best Titles" list in 1939.

In 1894-5 Hardy set out to revise all his novels, on proofsheets, in preparation for the first complete collection of his works to be published by Osgood, McIlvaine and to be based on the text first typeset for Macmillan's Colonial Library edition of 1894. Far From the Madding Crowd was then published as the second of sixteen volumes in this Wessex Novels series, complete with a Preface and a new frontispiece etching by H.Macbeth-Raeburn. It was also complete with a newly-coordinated Wessex topography (see also Explanatory Notes). Specific locations, directions and distances were now standardised (in conformity with the other Wessex novels), but not always in significant proportions and, unfortunately, not always in keeping with the world in view. For example, in extending to a quarter of a mile the original one-hundred-yards distance between Bathsheba's house and Weatherbury church, Hardy may have satisfied his desire for precise and accurate topography, given the growth and importance of his Wessex world which, by the 1890s had taken on the mythic proportions of a Homeric universe, but the extra distance does not, in fact, fully cohere with his original conception of things, and now puts a considerable strain on Bathsheba's vision, so to speak. As she gazes out of her attic window at sundown to where the village boys are playing Fives in the churchyard, she can plainly see -- despite the obscuring trees and fading evening light -- the brown-haired as distinct from the black-haired lads, and can plainly hear their peals of hearty laughter (XLIV). Unfortunately, the specific details of this scene would not be plainly visible or plainly audible at a distance of a quarter of a mile. Bathsheba would not only need a pair of binoculars in order to be able to distinguish the tonal shades of the boys' hair but would also need the acoustic assistance of a strong, steady easterly wind to carry the laughter in her direction. In addition, the extended distance makes it highly unlikely that she would now be able to hear, from inside her bedroom at night and through the sound of heavy rain pounding down outside, the "strange noise" of water pouring from the mouth of the gurgoyle into the pool of water it had created on the earth beneath (XLVI).

Alternative problems of textual distortion also arise with Hardy's amendment of the distance between Weatherbury and Bath (see Explanatory Notes), but, on the other hand, little damage is done in changing place-names to conform to the topography of later Wessex novels: "Windleton," for instance, simply becomes "Yalbury Bottom," as in The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886), and "Kingsbere" is tagged on to a list of place-names signifying nothing in particular other than a topographical connection between Far From the Madding Crowd and, say, The Trumpet Major (1889) or Tess of the d'Urbervilles (1891).

Hardy continued to work along these lines subsequently, although a significant proportion of his postscriptive topographical changes, notably those made to the Harper 1901 edition, were abandoned at the end of the day and not incorporated into the so-called "definitive" Wessex edition of 1912. In the meantime, he also continued to work on minute details of dialect, changing you to ye and ye to 'ee and vice versa, much as he had done in the first manuscript writing, never fully satisfied that he had achieved precisely the right balance between standard and dialectal forms -- the subtle balance required to preserve both a very necessary textual fluency or intelligibility and the rich, salt-of-the-earth expressiveness of his Wessex workfolk.

Some of these changes did appear in Macmillan & Co.'s first publication of Far From the Madding Crowd in 1902, based on the Osgood, McIlvaine text and commonly known as the Uniform Edition. A greater impact on the 1902 text was made, however, by Hardy's substantive revisions concerning Bathsheba's doubts about Troy's drowning. In so far as it was possible to include these revisions in the cheap Macmillan edition without affecting the typesetting, this was done, though with some damage to characterisation and textual integrity (see Explanatory Notes). Bathsheba's reiterated doubts do not, in fact, greatly undermine the irony that arises when readers have knowledge of a situation of which the characters remain unaware (in this case all but Bathsheba remain convinced of Troy's death). And, on an equally positive note, her fierce resistance to the news of his death most sensitively represents a psychologically apt reaction to feelings of bereavement and loss which are frequently accompanied by acts of denial and negation. However, the one glaring inconsistency this particular late revision does enforce upon the 1902 text is that, because Gabriel Oak's role is not modified accordingly, since he pays little heed to these (newly stressed) anguished denials in the woman he loves, his charge that she should marry Boldwood out of duty strikes far more shockingly upon the reader's ears than hitherto. Oak's emotional deafness to her plight, in the original version, could, after all, be taken by sympathetic readers as a self-protective mechanism, which his accompanying moral sternness aptly buttresses -- the moral and emotional characteristics being but the opposite sides of the same coin. But since this newly reinforced anguish on her part accentuates the unresponsiveness on his, readers are confronted with a blatantly ugly fall from grace in a man who, at this point, has recovered his chances of running for husband selection and should, therefore, be gaining the approval of readers.

It was to the 1912 Macmillan edition, commonly known as the Wessex edition, that Hardy made his last significant revisions to Far From the Madding Crowd: continuing to accentuate Bathsheba's doubts, stressing the issue of Boldwood's insanity, attempting to enhance Oak's stature and authority, and adding some modifications to accidentals -- although, in truth, he never ceased to make minor adjustments to his novels up until the end of his life. His long-hoped-for de luxe edition, the Mellstock limited edition of 500 sets, shows that he was still balancing dialectal forms, adding stresses here and there, altering topographical details as late as 1919 -- markings that are also visible on his own copy of the Wessex edition. The "good hand" never ceased making new tracings upon the old.

All Cornhill-based editions published during the twentieth century have incorporated variants from the Osgood, McIlvaine/Wessex editions; some have also included other selected variants from the Harper 1901 edition. The most significant of these, as they appear in successive editions over the years, are recorded in the Explanatory Notes, but none has been incorporated into this manuscript edition which remains completely free of editorial practices of this nature.

The most questionable of all are the Henry Holt (H) variants which Hardy in fact declined to sanction. Holt had requested, in November 1874, an advance copy of the last chapters of Far From the Madding Crowd for American book publication. But since Hardy had lost sight of his manuscript earlier in the summer and had completed the November proofs the previous August, he had nothing especially presageful to offer. Some critics have tried to explain the Holt variants by claiming an alternative draft -- that Hardy sent him a different version of the final chapters. This seems highly unlikely for several reasons. The first is that Hardy barely had time, writing against deadlines, to complete the manuscript pieces required for the Cornhill publication, let alone time for composing an alternative version for Holt. The second is that although he did sketch out rough fragments in notebooks and on bits of tree bark and woodland leaves (he says), he not only reserved these fragments for occasional set pieces which he inserted into the manuscript proper, but also abandoned this practice as soon as he got into his stride with serial writing. By the time he had reached the June issue (XXV), and Bathsheba's entanglement with Troy, he was no longer integrating extraneous material, aside from a fragment on "Sheeprot" which he further fragmented and dispersed among the several chapters in progress (see Appendix ). Third: since Hardy had completed revisions to Far From the Madding Crowd the previous August and was now proofreading for the Smith, Elder book publication in November 1874, it seems implausible that he would have prepared an alternative version for Holt during this busy period, although there would have been nothing to stop Holt from resurrecting deleted phrases from the proofsheets. And finally, Hardy's marriage. Leaving his maternal home at Bockhampton for the first time in his life, with a new bride (September 1874), with a new winter home to set up for six months in Surbiton, and with new ideas already brimming for his next novel, Hardy would not have been in the least inclined to making special exceptions for a publisher he was already beginning to distrust.

As it happened, Holt was already making "adaptations" to Far From the Madding Crowd for American readers. Long accustomed to editorial interference Hardy seems to have been bemused, maybe even nonplussed, by this informality, but not for long. If he passed no comment on Holt's clumsy substitution of "the Mediterranean" for "South America" when, in all his fastidiousness, Boldwood is said to attach "as much importance to a crease in the coat as to an earthquake in South America" (LII), or if he remained silent about Gabriel's transformation into a church-warden, which may have given Oak a much-needed boost of manly virtue towards the end of the novel (LVII), Hardy neverthless remained uneasy about Holt's cavalier attitude to matters literary and linguistic, and did eventually cut off business relations with him altogether in 1878.

Bowdlerisation was to remain a lifelong problem for Hardy. So too were the vexed copyright laws which gave authors very little protection against unscrupulous publishers. By contrast, compositorial errors seemed, simply, to be a state-of-the-art hazard which Hardy took in his stride. He corrected and revised only the most blatantly erroneous of those originating in the Cornhill, omitting many that have subsequently passed through the hands of successive editors to the present day -- while collecting several more along the way. Minor as these errors may be they do not belong in Hardy's text -- whether they put "marital" in place of the manuscript's "martial," as in Oak's "rising to the occasion with martial promptness" (XV), or "lancelote" where Hardy has "lanceolate" (XXII), or whether they give Fanny the name "Robin" instead of "Robbin."

Unfortunately, in the case of mispelled names, once they were in print Hardy had no choice but to adopt the same spelling. When "Robin" appeared on the bookstands with the opening Cornhill instalment he could do nothing save apply the same mispelled name to his own composition in progress (See Appendix ). Thus the manuscript bears the two spellings. It opens with "Robbin" and changes to "Robin" in the chapters Hardy was then preparing for the May instalment (XXI-XXIV), when he had just discovered the opening number with its unauthorised spelling of "Robin."


Transcription of the Manuscript.

Rosemarie Morgan


In this edition I have endeavoured to keep strictly to what Hardy himself originally wrote, as extant in the holograph manuscript of Far From the Madding Crowd, now at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Thus I have restored the original usage, "Robbin," as Hardy first conceived the name, and have followed the same principle with all names, chapter headings and titles. Hardy began with "Mary-ann," not "Maryann" as later editions have it, so "Mary-ann" it stays; likewise his original use of uppercase letters in his title, "Far From the Madding Crowd," later to become "Far from the Madding Crowd."

Working on the principle that Hardy, like Shakespeare, might be deemed exempt from prevailing fashions in grammar, spelling, and conventional usages of all kinds, I have kept strictly to all substantives as they appear in the manuscript, despite the occasional inconsistency or grammatical oddity. Thus, for example, I have retained Hardy's "ize" suffixes, "emphasize," "harmonize," where the Cornhill puts "ise" -- alternatively his "recognise" where the Cornhill puts "ize" -- and I have respected his occasional "American" spellings, as in "tranquility."

I have not, however, noted every single textual change in the Cornhill, which prefers, for instance, "Oh" over Hardy's "O," "an ewe" over his "a ewe," and is frequently prone to change "that" to "which." Nor have I listed individually his copious manuscript and proof revisions to dialect words. These tend to remain inferential rather than substantive: "you" or "ye" might replace "ee," and vice versa; "en" might alternate with conventional pronouns of every gender and kind, and so on. With these, and such regional usages as "chiel" (child) and "nater" (nature), Hardy sought a confluence of the vernacular and the literary and persisted in this work to the very the end of his days.

In keeping with the prevailing publication practice at the time Hardy left the final punctuation of his text to the Cornhill compositors who were instructed in the house-style of Smith, Elder & Co. Even if he had had a decided preference for a particular style there would have been little point in asserting it within the manuscript in any consistent way, since, as he learned from the very first serial instalment onwards, house compositors exercised a free hand over every aspect of his own application of accidentals, from putting apostrophes in "baint" ("bain't") to imposing the prevailing house-style on his spellings and grammatical constructions.

Hardy genuinely deplored "having to write against time," but although the manuscript shows occasional signs of careless writing the main body is perfectly coherent, with or without standard, consistent accidentals -- with or without the long stretches of unmarked dialogue and the decidedly "open" style of punctuation. Whether this "open" style indicates his preference at that time for minimal punctuation or simply a willing adherence to house-style requirements, one thing is clear: later accidentals personally revised by Hardy some twenty years afterwards do show his decided predilection for the former. So, aside from filling out abbreviated forms (such as "&"), or marking the unmarked dialogues with the double quotation-marks preferred (over single) by Hardy in the manuscript, or, on rare occasions, furnishing accidentals for clarity, I have kept to his minimalist style. I have also observed his preference for dashes over commas, colons over semi-colons, exclamation marks in place of question marks and his slightly eccentric manner of not italicising Frenchisms and of omitting hyphens in compound constructions -- "tenderly shaped," for example, where the Cornhill prefers "tenderly-shaped."

Thus, the present edition restores the original work as first created by Hardy throughout the twelve-month period of composition which also happened to be a twelve-month period of suppressed opposition to editorial pressures or direct editorial intervention, and all that that means in terms of intensified artistic creativity. In later years, writing with the nonchalant diffidence of fame, he is reported to have said that what Stephen excised from the serial version he himself would not bother to restore to the book version. But of course he did bother -- for the rest of his entire life. The underlying truth of the "bother" was, however, the loss of inspiration, of recovering the original vision and first stretch of the imagination -- that inexpectation of the moment's sudden thought and instant flash of feeling, that budding idea ushered in by an inchoate phrase. This much -- and it is a good deal too much -- Hardy sensed he had lost when, looking back on Far From the Madding Crowd from a long distance in later life, he knew it to be the work of a far younger man.


NOTES not appended here.