personal, unique voice constantly engaging the reader, mindnand spirit, with the luminous intelligence of the author. Surely,nI thought, Hobbes merits a place on the literary scholar’snbookshelf as well as the general reader’s, in the company ofnAusten, the Brontes, George Eliot, and Mrs. Gaskell, ofnMeredith, Hardy, and Galsworthy, not to mention suchnmoderns as Virginia Woolf, Rose Macaulay, Murdoch, Lessing,nGraham Greene, and Evelyn Waugh.nWhy, then, have these novels been unprinted and almostncompletely ignored all these years? True, certain of theirncharacteristics could deter some readers: occasional unnaturalndialogue and “precious” witticisms (especially in the earlynworks); in some plots too much reliance on coincidence and onnletters and journals; intrusive comments; “dated” morality; anreligious point of view. But which novels by Hobbes’s establishednpredecessors and contemporaries are free of those samencharacteristics?nAttempting to explain that long neglect, three of Hobbes’snfew recent critics — Oliver Edwards, Margaret Maison, andnVineta Colby—have pointed to those and other deterrents.nBut each of those three has also made a strong case for thenmerits of at least some of Hobbes’s novels. While acknowledgingnthat Hobbes’s use of letters and journals, her comments,nand her “mysticism” might annoy, Edwards praises her eruditionnand wit, her “unique achievement,” especially in herntwo-volume historical-political-religious work The School fornSaints (1897) and its sequel, Robert Orange (1900): “a novelnno other writer would have attempted or could have accomplished”n(“Mrs. Hobbes,” The Times, Dec. 15, 1966). In anninformative, appreciative survey of Pearl Craigie’s life andnwork, Maison emphasizes, without condemning them herself,ntraits which have displeased some readers: the epigrams andnwitticisms of the earliest novels and the deepening “note ofnreligious sincerity” in the later ones — “undertones of painnand anguish … a more serious philosophical strain . . .nprofounder spiritual insight . . . occasional touches of mysticism”n(“The Brilliant Mrs. Craigie,” The Listener, Aug. 1969,n272-73). Of Hobbes’s novels as a whole Maison says:n. . . her novels . . . can hardly be dismissed as merenperiod pieces reflecting drawing-room manners andnthat peculiar blend of faith and frivolity characteristicnof the Nineties. They have, besides a clever wit, andepth of philosophical thoughtfulness, a rather sadnwisdom and a consistently good style — all rarenqualities in feminine fiction.nIn The Singular Anomaly: Women Novelists of the NineteenthnCentury (1970), Colby treats Hobbes comprehensively—butnunfairly!—as one of five women novelists who, like GeorgenEliot, “had first-rate minds” and explored the “most seriousnsocial and ethical questions of their time,” but who, unlike her,n”could never assimilate and integrate their knowledge and theirnideas into a work of art.” Barb after barb, Colby’s account ofnPearl Craigie herself is excessively harsh, as in these typicalncomments:nHer misfortune . . . was that in being able to haveneverything [because of her father’s wealth], shenpossessed or mastered nothing.nThe personal pose she assumed was that of tragicnmuse. Like many another poseur, Mrs. Craigieneventually became what she pretended to be.nTo trace her life is to see a small-scalendrawing-room tragedy: a bright talent misspent andnwasted.n— and in this unkindest cut of all:nWriting was a form of personal indulgence for Mrs.nCraigie as, indeed, her whole life was an indulgence;nher ill health, her religion, her philanthropy, probablyneven her unhappy marriage, are expressions of it. Inn1898 her mysterious malady . . . was finally diagnosednas a form of epilepsy, le petit mal. She appeared tonwelcome the diagnosis as an excuse for a veritablendebauch of self-indulgence—physical, spiritual, andnintellectual.nThat cruelly biased view of the author distorts Colby’sndiscussion of Hobbes’s novels. So, too, does Colby’s procrusteanneffort to fit the novels to her thesis. She unduly emphasizes,non the one hand, the brains, diligence, ambition, egotism, andn”weird and perverse taste” expressed in the novels, and on thenother, their lack (as she sees it) of truly imaginative content andnof formal, technical excellence. Remarkably, however, even innsuch a treatment all Hobbes’s novels shine through as too vitalnto deserve neglect, and Colby admits that the last four (ThenSerious Wooing, Love and the Soul-Hunters, The Vineyard,nand The Dream and the Business “show increasing technicalnmastery owing in part at least to her experience in the theatre.”nMy particular claim (to be developed elsewhere) is that PearlnCraigie’s novels—wrung as they are from her own intensenexperience, her own brief and strenuous journey towardnself-knowledge—brilliantly and wisely illuminate the lives ofnwomen, especially of intelligent, sensitive, sophisticatednwomen living in the cultural storm and stress of the end of annera. In her diverse female characters — sirens, scholars, andnartists, lovers and loved ones, saints and sinners. Eves andnLiliths, dutiful and rebellious wives and daughters — modernnwomen will surely see their sisters and themselves. In hernphilosophical and increasingly mythic interpretations of the lifenof men and women, modern readers will see a passionatenrediscovery of perennial classical and Judaic-Christian conceptsnand values: of the very meaning, within that religioushumanisticnframework, of tragedy, comedy, honor, character,nfate, freedom, responsibility, passion, love, duty, sin, renunciation,nredemption, grace, blessedness … of the arts, of mythn… of life itselfnSurveying her life and work, we can imagine with whatndelight Pearl Craigie — if she had lived to be old — might wellnhave added to her charmed circle of friends and correspondentsnmany of the most exciting minds of our own century; indeed,nin a letter to her publisher (1904), Mrs. Craigie propheticallynstated for herself her strong claim upon us:nI am absolutely certain that my biggest sales are fornthe future, because some of my best ideas are far innadvance of the present average reader. … I writenfrom knowledge and that is why . . . the books willnultimately have value. They have many faults, nondoubt, but they are not twaddle. As psychological stuffnthey are sound and as studies of modern English life,nthey are the truth.nnnJANUARY 1988 / 31n