The phrase `life's little ironies' is now proverbial, but it was coined by Hardy as the title for this, his third volume of short stories. While the tales and sketches reflect many of the strengths and themes of the great novels, they are powerful wo
rks in their own right. Unified by his quintessential irony, strong visual sense, and engaging characters, they deal with the tragic and the humorous, the metaphysical and the magical. The collection displays the whole range of Hardy's art as a write
r of fiction, from fantasy to uncompromising realism, and from the loving re-creation of a vanished rural world to the repressions of fin-de-siecle bourgeois life.