Interlopers at the Knap

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“O no. I had only this infernal cough.”

“Either the moss and mildew have eat away the words, or we have arrived in a land where the natyves have lost the art o’ writing,…”

Orienteering by means of empty fingerposts where roads fork is one thing. But triangulating this book’s earlier “freaks of coincidence” by means of this story’s “momentary freak of fancy” is quite another! A puckish story by Thomas Hardy about many human manoeuvres that try to defy “the sport of fate”, while demonstrating the morbid Hardyesque ‘dying fall’ that ever prevails by dint of chance births and inevitable deaths in and around the realms of love and marriage, all as riven by politics-over-romance and mankind’s sheer bloody-minded stoicism. The “dilatoriness of watched pots”, stubborn pride and the sarcastic mention of “nice long speeches on mangold-wurzel”, as part of the literary gestalt and the “conjuncture” of manners and manoeuvres that have blighted humanity since time immemorial!

“It was the universal custom thereabout to wake the bees by tapping their hives whenever a death occurred in the household,…”

“…another attack of the cough, which seemed to shake him to pieces.”

from my review here: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2020/03/15/collected-short-stories-thomas-hardy/

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