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The Withered Arm

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  621 ratings  ·  71 reviews
'She bared her poor curst arm'

A jealous lover's curse and an ingenious party trick feature in these two suspenseful stories set in Hardy's imaginary Wessex.

One of 46 new books in the bestselling Little Black Classics series, to celebrate the first ever Penguin Classic in 1946. Each book gives readers a taste of the Classics' huge range and diversity, with works from around
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Paperback, Penguin Little Black Classics, #99, 54 pages
Published March 3rd 2016 by Penguin Classics (first published 1888)
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Average rating 3.57  · 
Rating details
 ·  621 ratings  ·  71 reviews


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Peter
Mar 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror
A rich milk farmer marries a beautiful young woman named Gertrude. Rhoda Brooks, a milkmaid with a son is envious and touches in her dream the arm of the newly wed wife. It begins to wither away. Is there a solution for Gertrude? Can a conjurer help her when all official physicians fail? What is the uncanny remedy the conjurer recommends Gertrude? What happened to Rhoda's son. A classically composed novella with a fine twist at the end. You won't regret reading this classic and shocking tale. It ...more
Bob
Thomas Hardy has become one of my favorite authors. While this story was a little different from his other works, it is well written. If I have any complaint, it would be that the character who suffered the most was innocent of any wrong doing. Realism, the good don't always win. ...more
Marjolein
3.5 Stars

The Withered Arm was a nice addition to the Little Black Classics collection. It has a bit of that late 19th Century feel to it with a story of a new bride who gets cursed through one of her dreams. It was an interesting story.

The only thing I had previously read by Thomas Hardy was Woman Much Missed, a collection of poetry also from the Little Black Classics. Since I enjoyed both, I will have to look up some of his longer work, I think.

~Little Black Classics #99~

Find this and other r
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JK
Jun 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Withered Arm came highly recommended to me, and I was pleased Penguin included it in their Little Black Classics range. Although the range does contain some of his poetry (and we all know how I feel about poetry), the collection would not be complete without some Hardy prose.

He’s a firm favourite of mine, and I was delighted to see his regular style applied here. Although the supernatural isn’t something he would normally delve into, we’re presented with some typically Hardyish awkward relat
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Laura
From BBC radio 4 Extra - Afternnon Drama:
Thomas Hardy's classic short story is a masterful drama of psychological suspense. Dramatised by Louise Doughty, it tells the highly charged tale of two women in the grip of passions beyond their control.

With Victoria Hamilton, Susan Jameson, Ewan Bailey, Nick Sayce.

Directed by Claudine Toutoungi.


Thomas Hardy's classic short story is a masterful drama of psychological suspense. Dramatised by Louise Doughty, it tells the highly charged tale of two women in
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Maan Kawas
Oct 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Captivating and engaging!!!! I really really loved this story by Thomas Hardy!
Maud
Mar 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: stand-alone
Two very good and fun stories, both interesting but nothing too original.
Wiebke (1book1review)
My first Thomas Hardy, I like the writing and the stories were quite clever.
Rissa Flores
Jun 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Overall a good read!

First tale was about a woman named Rhoda Brook, who had a secret affair with Farmer Lodge, with whom she bore a son. Stricken with jealousy when Farmer Lodge had a new wife, she accidentally cursed the new wife Gertrude through one of her dreams. Second tale was about a bunch of thieves and a gentleman named Hubert, and how he outsmarted and caught them.

Language is old but I thought it fit the narrative of the two tales. Length was also perfect, particularly for the first t
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Hayley
The perfect supernatural read for October. My first time delving into Hardy and it was great. This was a creepy fast paced story with a twist that I didn’t see. It was well executed. (No pun intended)
Tom
Oct 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Short story which follows the fate of a young woman who is afflicted with a arm which is withering away. Driven to attempt all kind of folk remedy she visits a local conjuring man - who shows her that the perpetrator of the affliction is a woman living nearby who is known to her. Still unable to shift the curse, she travels to the site of a local hanging; where she seeks to touch her withered arm to the corpse in order to cure it.

Excellently explores the perils and tragedy of superstition and je
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Caroline
Sep 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
I'm gonna give this 3.5 stars! Don't think I've read any Thomas Hardy before. The story is relatively short, but I can definitely see this being a scary story at the time. ...more
Tia
Jul 20, 2018 rated it liked it
I love the little black classics as they really allow you to get a glimpse into author's work. I have a love/hate relationship with classic literature and so these little black classics are an amazing way for me to try out a new author without having to commit to a full novel.

This book was really enjoyable. Both of the stories were entertaining and quick to read: The Withered Arm went in a much different direction than I initially thought it would but it was good and The Thieves Who Couldn't Hel
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Erica
May 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed these two short stories. I've been meaning to read Hardy for some time and this was a great taster. Will definitely check out some of his longer works now. ...more
Idriss
The chapters fluidly move from idyllic folk intrigue to ghost story to mystery thriller to spy thriller to classic novella twist. I laughed out loud at "harum-skarum young woman who had come to attend 'hang-fair' next day," as you can see "Old-fashioned days had old--fashioned means indeed." This is one of many mini-master-classes in description that "raise a mental image of the unconscious... that was realistic as a photograph." The skill and sharpness that Hardy's pen holds is evident when rum ...more
Library_Dweller89
Technically I listened to a BBC radio drama production of this story, but as it is a short story and it is a long production I am going to count it. This was very interesting. It was quite creepy. It still felt very Thomas Hardy, the focus on the landscapes and simple farming communities was very “ok brand.” I also feel, at least in the Thomas Hardy pieces that I have read, that he spends much more time focusing on the women in his stories than he does the men. I’m not sure why that is, I would ...more
Peter
May 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
To judge this book on modern standards will not work, the writing style is very much of its time and is all the better for it.

Two enjoyable tales of the country that are vivid in the way they trigger the mind to see the words.

The title story, although as a predictable ending is handled with skill in the hands of such a writer as Hardy.

The second story, The Thieves Who Couldn't Help Sneezing is a fun little story that should bring a smile to anyone.

More Thomas Hardy please.
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Soobie's scared
Well, I fell asleep twice when I was reading this short story. SIGH!

It's not that it's a bad story because I really like the way it ends. Maybe it's just too slow and it takes forever to gain momentum. Hardy did a good job insinuating the doubt into Gertrude's mind and transforming her into a person who believes in the supernatural. But everything is so slow!!

Nice ending though.
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Katherine
Jul 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Known for his pastoral work, this is a bit of a departure for Hardy. While set near his famous Casterbridge, instead of daily life we have a case of an unintentional curse. The result however reflects Hardy's use of coincidence, fate, and the end justifying the means. ...more
Jacklynn
Jun 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Withered Arm: 5 stars

The Thieves Who Couldn't Help Sneezing: 2.5 stars
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Danielle's Books
This was pretty interesting! Twisted and weird but interesting!
Steven
Sep 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: british, romance-sex
Tragic story of a mistress scorned, a son abandoned and a wife withering away.
Desirée Castillo
My first short story in English when I was studying my degree
Maddy
Oct 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is gothic, sad and entertaining at the same time.loved it
Susan
Oct 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My first Thomas Hardy and I loved it. Just perfect! Can’t wait to read more.
Shaz
Oct 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own, x-classics, 2020
I really enjoyed both stories in this short book. Predictable but entertaining.
Nicole Ann
Oct 15, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: uni-prep
A topical subject that was quite fascinating to read about for university.
Erin Powe
Grim. Three stars because I guessed the ending too soon.
Amber Rush
Oct 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
This short Hardy novel is somewhat different from his normal style, though still a Wessex novella. When Rhoda has an illegitimate child with her master a sin has been committed. One night Rhoda has a dream that she has been haunted by a ghost but her master's new wife has all the injuries. We follow a tale of how one sin leaves a lie of sin different to before. With the new wife’s ‘white' appears challenged it presents there is more to people than our supposed views. When told to decrease the ar ...more
Elisha
3.5 stars.

My love for Hardy's novels is well-documented, but it had never occurred to me before picking up this collection that he might also have written short stories. In fact, when I bought this Little Black Classics edition, I was anticipating poetry. But no, I got two short stories. Two very un-Hardy-esque short stories, much to my surprise. One plays with supernatural and gothic elements (albeit ambiguously) and the other has more of a medieval setting than his usual oeuvre. This was not a
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Thomas Hardy, OM, was an English author of the naturalist movement, although in several poems he displays elements of the previous romantic and enlightenment periods of literature, such as his fascination with the supernatural. He regarded himself primarily as a poet and composed novels mainly for financial gain. The bulk of his work, set mainly in the semi-fictional land of Wessex, delineates cha ...more

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