Far From the Madding Crowd (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

Far From the Madding Crowd (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)


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Far From the Maddening Crowd, by Thomas Hardy, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:
  • New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars
  • Biographies of the authors
  • Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events
  • Footnotes and endnotes
  • Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work
  • Comments by other famous authors
  • Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations
  • Bibliographies for further reading
  • Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate
All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.

The first of Thomas Hardy’s great novels, Far From the Madding Crowd established the author as one of Britain’s foremost writers. It also introduced readers to Wessex, an imaginary county in southwestern England that served as the pastoral setting for many of the author’s later works.

Far From the Madding Crowd tells the story of beautiful Bathsheba Everdene, a fiercely independent woman who inherits a farm and decides to run it herself. She rejects a marriage proposal from Gabriel Oak, a loyal man who takes a job on her farm after losing his own in an unfortunate accident. He is forced to watch as Bathsheba mischievously flirts with her neighbor, Mr. Boldwood, unleashing a passionate obsession deep within the reserved man. But both suitors are soon eclipsed by the arrival of the dashing soldier, Frank Troy, who falls in love with Bathsheba even though he’s still smitten with another woman. His reckless presence at the farm drives Boldwood mad with jealousy, and sets off a dramatic chain of events that leads to both murder and marriage.

A delicately woven tale of unrequited love and regret, Far from the Madding Crowd is also an unforgettable portrait of a rural culture that, by Hardy’s lifetime, had become threatened with extinction at the hands of ruthless industrialization.

Jonathan A. Cook has a B.A. from Harvard College and a Ph.D. from Columbia University. He is the author of Satirical Apocalypse: An Anatomy of Melville’s The Confidence Man, and has published numerous articles on the works of Herman Melville, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and other nineteenth-century writers.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781593082239
Publisher: Barnes & Noble
Publication date: 06/01/2005
Series: Barnes & Noble Classics Series
Pages: 480
Sales rank: 25,414
Product dimensions: 5.18(w) x 8.00(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

An English Victorian author of novels, poems, and short stories, Thomas Hardy (1840-1928) is best known for the classic books Far from the Madding Crowd, The Mayor of Casterbridge, Tess of the d'Urbervilles, and Jude the Obscure. Set mostly in the semi-imagined region of Wessex, Hardy’s fictional works retain their popularity thanks to an accessible style, Romantic plots, and richly drawn characters.

Date of Birth:

June 2, 1840

Date of Death:

January 11, 1928

Place of Birth:

Higher Brockhampon, Dorset, England

Place of Death:

Max Gate, Dorchester, England


Served as apprentice to architect James Hicks

Read an Excerpt

From Jonathan A. Cook’s Introduction to Far From the Madding Crowd

Hardy described his new novel to Leslie Stephen as “a pastoral tale,” and the very title of the novel announced its rural pedigree. The author derived his title from the nineteenth stanza of Thomas Gray’s well-known “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard” (1751), a pastoral meditation on the undistinguished but not undignified lives of rural dwellers:

Far from the madding [that is, frenzied] crowd’s ignoble strife,

Their sober wishes never learn’d to stray;

Along the cool sequester’d vale of life

They kept the noiseless tenor of their way.

Hardy’s novel hardly presents characters whose “sober wishes never learned to stray”; indeed, misdirected and thwarted desires are the very stuff of the novel’s drama. But he nevertheless gives his rural characters the kind of dignity and humanity that Gray commemorates in his pastoral elegy and that Hardy was bestowing on a new fictional domain based on his native Dorset. The borrowed lines from Gray’s poem may be said to act as a generic marker for Far from the Madding Crowd in that many of the basic elements of plot, characterization, setting, and imagery in Hardy’s novel can be directly linked to the traditions of the literary pastoral. In Far from the Madding Crowd, as in the pastoral tradition generally, humanity lives largely in harmony with nature, and the year is marked by the natural rhythms of the seasons and the labors of agricultural life. In order fully to appreciate the novel as a manifestation of pastoral, it is necessary briefly to review the long literary tradition to which it belonged.

The pastoral tradition in European literature began with the Idylls of the third-century B.C. Greek writer Theocritus, whose poems often focused on the simple lives and loves of shepherds and goatherds, nostalgically recalled from the writer’s native Sicily. The rural subjects of Theocritus’ verse included musical and poetic contests, mythological narratives, seasonal celebrations, and elegiac laments. The tradition of classical pastoral poetry was further elaborated by the first-century B.C. Roman writer Virgil in his ten Eclogues, based on Theocritan models, as well as the Georgics, a four-part didactic poem on the required labors of the agricultural year regarding crops, trees, vines, livestock, and bees. Following Virgil, an implicit assumption of pastoral poetry was that rural life was morally superior to urban civilization. Pastoral literature was revived in the English Renaissance in the work of three of the era’s leading writers: Edmund Spenser’s Shepheardes Calendar (1579), a medley of twelve poems based on Virgil’s Eclogues and featuring song contests, elegies, laments of scorned lovers and frustrated poets, and criticisms of corruption in the late-sixteenth-century English church and state; Sir Philip Sidney’s Arcadia (1590), a long prose narrative, set in an imaginary Greek provincial realm, combining chivalric romance with traditional pastoral interludes, and structured around the principle of rustic retreat from the outside world; and William Shakespeare’s As You Like It (c.1600), a romantic comedy representing the sentimental benefits— and ironic deficiencies— of withdrawal to a sylvan retreat, the imaginary Forest of Arden, from the perilous environs of the court. Pastoral poetry continued to be written through the eighteenth century by Alexander Pope and others, but at the risk of becoming artificially restricted to the classically defined rules of the era. Although anticipated in some of the poetry of Gray, Oliver Goldsmith, and George Crabbe, it was only with William Wordsworth’s re-creation of the pastoral using realistic rural characters and simplified diction that the tradition was renewed and made available to Hardy’s influential precursor George Eliot in her novels Adam Bede (1859) and Silas Marner (1861), and then to Hardy himself, beginning with his second novel, Under the Greenwood Tree (1872), the title of which was based on a line from a song in As You Like It.

In essence, literary pastoral presents an idealized portrait of rural life, in the process offering a systematic preference for country over city life, simplicity over complexity, nature over artifice, and tradition over innovation. Explicitly named after the shepherds who formed its first subject matter, pastoral poetry often traced the romantic aspirations and disappointments of simple herders of sheep and goats, whose outdoor work allowed time for music, especially on the panpipes or flute, song contests, and debate on various sentimental, agricultural, political, and folkloric topics. The English pastoral novel of the nineteenth century blended some of the idealized themes and motifs of classical and Renaissance pastoral tradition with the more realistic contemporary conditions of the English rural community and natural landscape.

In writing Far from the Madding Crowd, Hardy combined many of the basic themes and motifs of classical pastoral tradition, but synthesized them with a realistic portrayal of contemporary rural English life. The novel’s grounding in pastoral tradition appears in the various farm laborers who perform a choral role in the narrative and exemplify the symbiotic existence of nature and humanity in the novel. It is also evident in the novel’s major characters: the faithful shepherd Gabriel Oak; his “mistress,” the beautiful but capricious farm owner Bathsheba Everdene; her love-sick older admirer, the gentleman farmer William Boldwood; and her selfish, predatory husband, Sergeant Troy, a disruptive antipastoral figure in the novel. In keeping with the seasonal structure underlying some examples of the literary pastoral, the action of the novel mirrors the seasons, as seen, for example, in Oak’s loss of his sheep in the winter, Boldwood’s preliminary courtship in the spring, Bathsheba’s involvement with Troy in the summer, and Fanny Robin’s death in the fall. Also indicative of the pastoral tradition in the novel are the descriptions of the phases of the agricultural year, including lambing, sheepshearing, hay-cutting, beekeeping, and harvesting, as well as of the rural institutions of market and fair.

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Far From the Madding Crowd (Barnes & Noble Classics Series) 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 127 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Far From the Madding crowd is an excellent novel by Thomas Hardy, and is yet quite different from much of the author's later works. Hardy seems to possess less of a sadistic god-complex, and there are fewer ironic coincidences in Madding Crowd than later books. The action is propelled forth more by the characters than by Hardy himself, but despite these differences, it is very much a Hardy work - full of bleak humor, deft wit, and engrossing characterizations. It's also one of the few Hardy works that could be said to have a 'happy ending' though, to be sure, there is still a great deal of misery and difficulty that besets the protagonists. A great work that truly helps to broaden one's perceptions of Hardy, and excellent book in its own right.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Of all the books in my library, this one gets read over and over. The book is stimulating and intriguing from the opening page to the end and the characters are unforgettable. And the story has an underlying message that is true even today.
ismene7 More than 1 year ago
Bathsheba does not start out as a heroine in this lovely rendering of Hardy's fictional world of Dorset. She becomes one through the book and the three men she is involved with. As is often the case in a Hardy novel the landscape is part of the story and the shaping of the people. I read this book years ago in highschool. Life has taught me too which qualities to value. Her beauty misleads herself and the people around her, but she finds her true worth later on. Hardy is nothing if not a steady student of life.
iRebecca27 More than 1 year ago
I read this my sophomore year, and it is a great story. Love is explored as the main theme.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was truly an enjoyable read! the characters had such distint personality, and Hardy's writing always has a dry wit to it that makes each chapter entertaining and thoughtful!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
It is a flawless novel by Hardy and is to be counted among his best ones. It clearly expresses how people behave according to their environment. The story of full of different men falling in love with Bathseba, the main character. It also consists of the real devotion of a lover to his loved one. Its a smooth, flawless story.
jpporter on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Move over, Dickens. Thomas Hardy has replaced Charles Dickens as my favorite Classical English author. The tone of "Far From the Madding Crowd" is pleasant, moving from descriptive narrative to humor to tragedy seamlessly. Unlike Hardy's later writing (such as "The Mayor of Casterbridge" and "Jude the Obscure"), FFTMC is light, entertaining, and structured with a pleasant ending. The later works mentioned are substantially darker, more pessimistic in nature; FFTMC is Hardy the optimist. As a general summary, the book follows the lives of Gabriel Oak (ostensibly the main character), Bathsheba Everdene, a young woman of stolid character coming of age; Mr. Blackwood, a farmer who becomes insanely in love with Bathsheba; and Sergeant Troy, a young soldier who woos, and wins, Bathsheba's hand in marriage. That is where the action kicks in. What impresses me most is Hardy's ability to instill dry wit into his description of an event, construct characters who come across as real, and create for us a world one can believe in. Clearly written, coherently structured, well paced, we can clearly see in Hardy the transition from "old, classical, English literature" to a more modern English classic. At 400+ pages, and a formal command of English (with surprising hints of modernity), this is a book that takes almost no effort to read - Hardy grabs the reader in the first chapter, and doesn't let go until the end.Well worth the reading - one would be the better for having read it.
LukeS on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In "Far from the Madding Crowd" we have Thomas Hardy's 1874 breakthrough publication. This was my introduction to Hardy, and I expected certain aspects of his work, and didn't expect others. For one, I didn't expect the humor that I encountered in early character descriptions, but I was not surprised by the power and depth of the story. Hardy's reputation had preceded him to that extent."Far from the Madding Crowd" recounts the tribulations of the young and beautiful - and tragically vain - Bathsheba Everdene, and the three men who love her. Or the two men who loved her, and the rake who married her, or perhaps most accurately, the rake who married her, the inexperienced man who loved her to distraction, and the one faithful stalwart who stood by her through all. For Bathsheba is the most beautiful of women, and men become entranced with her and offer marriage pretty regularly here. The force of the story flows from Bathsheba's initial vanity, her tragic and ill-advised coquetry and first marriage, and how her self-absorption leads to mental breakdown and manslaughter. Hardy presents the plot in a straightforward way, and handles Bathsheba's evolution very skilfully and realistically. The chief characters are fully-realized, memorable creatures. Oak, her constant and ultimate protector, middle-aged Boldwood, driven to distraction by latecoming first love, and the reprobate Sergeant Troy, the tragic first husband, all ring truly; we believe them and understand their motivations. I found the rabble of farm workers to bear no such distinction.I'm going to reserve judgment on whether this is where to start with Hardy. Plot-wise and resolution-wise, I was gratified by how this book ends. There is a tragic force in this narrative, and I understand it's something Hardy produced regularly. This book ends on a hopeful, life-affirming note, which by reputation, Hardy does not always employ. I'm glad I completed the exercise, but a little sorry that's what it felt like.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Same)) she sighed <p> Storm fell asleep the two heart beats match
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well wtitten, interesting, unusual happy ending for an English style novel.
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