Tess of the d'Urbervilles

Tess of the d'Urbervilles

by Thomas Hardy

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Overview

Introduction by Patricia Ingham

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780571337040
Publisher: Faber and Faber
Publication date: 02/27/2018
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 619,641
File size: 751 KB
Age Range: 12 Years

About the Author

Thomas Hardy was born in Dorset in 1840, the eldest of four children. At the age of sixteen he became an apprentice architect but continued to develop his classical education by studying between the hours of four and eight each morning. With encouragement from Horace Moule of Queens' College Cambridge, he began to write fiction. His first published novel was Desperate Remedies in 1871. Thus began a series of increasingly dark novels, all set within the rural landscape of his native Dorset. Such was the success of these early works, which included A Pair of Blue Eyes (1873) and Far From the Madding Crowd (1874), that he gave up his work as an architect to concentrate on his writing. However, he had difficulty publishing Tess of the D'Urbervilles (1889) and was forced to make changes in order for it to be judged suitable for family readers. This, coupled with the stormy reaction to the negative tone of Jude the Obscure (1895), prompted Hardy to abandon writing novels altogether and he concentrated on poetry for the rest of his life. He died in January 1928.
Thomas Hardy was born in Dorset in 1840, the eldest of four children. At the age of sixteen he became an apprentice architect. With remarkable self discipline he developed his classical education by studying between the hours of four and eight in the morning. With encouragement from Horace Moule of Queens' College Cambridge, he began to write fiction. His first published novel was Desperate Remedies in 1871. Thus began a series of increasingly dark novels all set within the rural landscape of his native Dorset, called Wessex in the novels. Such was the success of his early novels, including A Pair of Blue Eyes (1873) and Far From the Madding Crowd (1874), that he gave up his work as an architect to concentrate on his writing. However he had difficulty in getting Tess of the D'Urbervilles (1889) published and was forced to make changes in order for it to be judged suitable for family readers. This coupled with the stormy reaction to the negative tone of Jude the Obscure (1894) prompted Hardy to abandon novel writing altogether. He concentrated mainly on poetry in his latter years. He died in January 1928 and was buried in Westminster Abbey; but his heart, in a separate casket, was buried in Stinsford, Dorset.

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

Education:

Served as apprentice to architect James Hicks

Read an Excerpt

ON an evening in the latter part of May a middle-aged man was walking homeward from Shaston to the village of Marlott, in the adjoining Vale of Blakemore or Blackmoor. The pair of legs that carried him were rickety, and there was a bias in his gait which inclined him somewhat to the left of a straight line. He occasionally gave a smart nod, as if in confirmation of some opinion, though he was not thinking of anything in particular. An empty egg-basket was slung upon his arm, the nap of his hat was ruffled, a patch being quite worn away at its brim where his thumb came in taking it off. Presently he was met by an elderly parson astride on a gray mare, who, as he rode, hummed a wandering tune.

'Good night t'ee,' said the man with the basket.

'Good night, Sir John,' said the parson.

The pedestrian, after another pace or two, halted, and turned round.

'Now, sir, begging your pardon; we met last market-day on this road about this time, and I zaid 'oGood night', and you made reply 'Good night, Sir John', as now.'

'I did,' said the parson.

'And once before that--near a month ago.'

'I may have.'

'Then what might your meaning be in calling me 'Sir John' these different times, when I be plain Jack Durbeyfield, the haggler?'

The parson rode a step or two nearer.

'It was only my whim,' he said; and, after a moment's hesitation: 'It was on account of a discovery I made some little time ago, whilst I was hunting up pedigrees for the new county history. I am Parson Tringham, the antiquary, of Stagfoot Lane. Don't you really know, Durbeyfield, that you are the lineal representative of the ancient and knightly family ofthe d'Urbervilles, who derive their descent from Sir Pagan d'Urberville, that renowned knight who came from Normandy with William the Conqueror, as appears by Battle Abbey Roll?'

'Never heard it before, sir?'

'Well it's true. Throw up your chin a moment, so that I may catch the profile of your face better. Yes, that's the d'Urberville nose and chin--a little debased. Your ancestor was one of the twelve knights who assisted the Lord of Estremavilla in Normandy in his conquest of Glamorganshire. Branches of your family held manors over all this part of England; their names appear in the Pipe Rolls in the time of King Stephen. In the reign of King John one of them was rich enough to give a manor to the Knights Hospitallers; and in Edward the Second's time your forefather Brian was summoned to Westminster to attend the great Council there. You declined a little in Oliver Cromwell's time, but to no serious extent, and in Charles the Second's reign you were made Knights of the Royal Oak for your loyalty. Aye, there have been generations of Sir Johns among you, and if knighthood were hereditary, like a baronetcy, as it practically was in old times, when men were knighted from father to son, you would be Sir John now.'

'Ye don't say so!'

'In short,' concluded the parson, decisively smacking his leg with his switch, 'there's hardly such another family in England.'

'Daze my eyes, and isn't there?' said Durbeyfield. 'And here have I been knocking about, year after year, from pillar to post, as if I was no more than the commonest feller in the parish . . . And how long hev this news about me been knowed, Pa'son Tringham?'

The clergyman explained that, as far as he was aware, it had quite died out of knowledge, and could hardly be said to be known at all. His own investigations had begun on a day in the preceding spring when, having been engaged in tracing the vicissitudes of the d'Urberville family, he had observed Durbeyfield's name on his waggon, and had thereupon been led to make inquiries about his father and grandfather till he had no doubt on the subject.

'At first I resolved not to disturb you with such a useless piece of information,' said he. 'However, our impulses are too strong for our judgment sometimes. I thought you might perhaps know something of it all the while.'

'Well, I have heard once or twice, 'tis true, that my family had seen better days afore they came to Blackmoor. But I took no notice o't, thinking it to mean that we had once kept two horses where we now keep only one. I've got a wold silver spoon, and a wold graven seal at home, too; but, Lord, what's a spoon and seal? . . . And to think that I and these noble d'Urbervilles were one flesh all the time. 'Twas said that my gr't-grandfer had secrets, and didn't care to talk of where he came from . . . And where do we raise our smoke, now, parson, if I may make so bold; I mean, where do we d'Urbervilles live?'

'You don't live anywhere. You are extinct--as a county family.'

'That's bad.'

'Yes--what the mendacious family chronicles call extinct in the male line--that is, gone down--gone under.'

'Then where do we lie?'
'At Kingsbere-sub-Greenhill: rows and rows of you in your vaults, with your effigies under Purbeck-marble canopies.'

'And where be our family mansions and estates?'

'You haven't any.'

'Oh? No lands neither?'

'None; though you once had 'em in abundance, as I said, for your family consisted of numerous branches. In this county there was a seat of yours at Kingsbere, and another at Sherton, and another at Millpond, and another at Lullstead, and another at Wellbridge.'

'And shall we ever come into our own again?'

'Ah--that I can't tell!'

'And what had I better do about it, sir?' asked Durbeyfield, after a pause.

'Oh--nothing, nothing; except chasten yourself with the thought of 'how are the mighty fallen'. It is a fact of some interest to the local historian and genealogist, nothing more. There are several families among the cottagers of this county of almost equal lustre. Good night.'

'But you'll turn back and have a quart of beer wi' me on the strength o't, Pa&rs'n Tringham? There's a very pretty brew in tap at The Pure Drop--though, to be sure, not so good as at Rolliver'.'

'No, thank you--not this evening, Durbeyfield. You've had enough already.' Concluding thus the parson rode on his way, with doubts as to his discretion in retailing this curious bit of lore.

When he was gone Durbeyfield walked a few steps in a profound reverie, and then sat down upon the grassy bank by the roadside, depositing his basket before him. In a few minutes a youth appeared in the distance, walking in the same direction as that which had been pursued by Durbeyfield. The latter, on seeing him, held up his hand, and the lad quickened his pace and came near.

'Boy, take up that basket! I want 'oee to go on an errand for me.'

The lath-like stripling frowned. 'Who be you, then, John Durbeyfield, to order me about and call me 'boy'? You know my name as well as I know yours!'

'Do you, do you? That's the secret--that's the secret! Now obey my orders, and take the message I'm going to charge 'ee wi' . . . Well, Fred, I don't mind telling you that the secret is that I'm one of a noble race--it has been just found out by me this present afternoon, P.M.' And as he made the announcement, Durbeyfield, declining from his sitting position, luxuriously stretched himself out upon the bank among the daisies.

The lad stood before Durbeyfield, and contemplated his length from crown to toe.

Table of Contents

Introduction Text Glossary Activities

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“What a commonplace genius he has; or a genius for the commonplace—I don’t know which.”—D. H. Lawrence

“The greatest tragic writer among English novelists.”—Virginia Woolf

Reading Group Guide

1. Why do you think Thomas Hardy chose the subtitle "A Pure Woman"? How does Hardy define "pure, " and in what sense does Tess personify purity? Does Hardy idealize Tess? Is she a victim or does she participate in her own undoing?

2. Discuss the roles of Alec d'Urberville and Angel Clare in Tess's life. Consider the ways in which Hardy describes them and how his choices influence the reader's impressions of them.

3. What is the significance of the seven phases into which the book is divided? Tess of the d'Urbervilles was serialized in a newspaper before it was published. Do you think the divisions relate to the serialized breaks? What else might the junctures represent and what episodes do they separate? What is the meaning of Hardy's use of the number seven?

4. In the course of the novel, Tess Durbeyfield becomes a d'Urberville. In what ways does Tess's transformation from "field" to "ville"-and her move from a country farm to a mansion in a larger town-mimic the change in English agrarian life in the wake of the Industrial Revolution?

5. In Hardy's hands, Tess and the landscape seem to have a reciprocal relationship. How does the landscape represent and reflect Tess's outlook and her situation? How do Hardy's descriptions of Tess mirror what is happening to the countryside from which she hails?

6. Before devoting himself to writing full-time, Hardy apprenticed with an architect and intended to become one himself. How do the principles of architecture inform the structural elements of the novel?

7. Thomas Hardy seems to work both within and without the traditions of theliterature of his day. What are some of the hallmarks of the writing of the time? In what ways does he break with the styles and themes of many of his contemporaries?

8. Hardy once said that he refused to "[end] a story happily merely to suit conventional ideas." Indeed, his novel took an unconventional moral stance and shocked readers upon its publication. In what ways might Tess of the d'Urbervilles have been controversial? What were some of the mores that governed and epitomized the Victorian age?

Interviews

"I was born bad, and I have lived bad, and I shall die bad in all probability."
— Thomas Hardy (quote from Tess of The D'ubervilles )

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Tess of the d'Urbervilles 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 62 reviews.
Sneezybee23 More than 1 year ago
Tess Durbeyfield is beset by guilt over the accidental death of one of her family's horses - a main source of family income. In an attempt to create a social connection and to gain financial assistance for her family, she entreats the d'Urbervilles to acknowledge an ancient familial connection. Unfortunately, Alec d'Urberville is taken with Tess and rapes her. Her life is haunted by his sexual assault from that point forward. Eventually, Tess begins to recuperate and finds employment elsewhere as a dairymaid. Her days as a dairymaid are happy and peaceful until she falls in love with Angel Clare. She agonizes over telling him of her tainted past, and when she confesses the truth on her wedding night, Angel is repulsed over her past and her deception of waiting to tell him. Tess is parted from her true love and never fully recovers, even when he returns to her. Tess of the d'Urbervilles is more than a sad story. It pays homage to the type of unhealthy family atmospheres that many children are raised in. The death of the horse is a direct result of her father's drunkenness and irresponsibility, though Tess never realizes this. When her parents hear of her misfortune, her mother reprimands her for not seeking marriage to the very man who raped her. The story also explores the mental effects that sexual assault can have on a person. Tess experiences extreme guilt, depression and feelings of unworthiness - common feelings for victims of sexual assault. In the end, as she is continually subjected to Alec d'Urberville, she experiences insanity which results in extreme actions. This particular edition included an introduction and notes about the text which I found helpful. However, I thought the girl on the cover did not resemble the maiden of the book. The girl on the front is plain and unremarkable, whereas, Tess, according to the text, is remarkable. I can see why this book is considered a literary classic, but I can't say I enjoyed it. That being said, I think everyone should read this book once. Tess is a memorable character that one can not help being fascinated with.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Was interested in the story until it took forever to be told. Tess could not walk a few feet without an overkill of scenery description. Got tired of skimming through these areas.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Tess of the d¿Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy enthralls its readers with the life of Tess Durbeyfield and the trials she is faced with. Hardy captivates the reader by characterizing the characters so well that it elicits certain responses to certain characters like sympathizing with Tess, loving Angel, and hating Alec. Tess is portrayed as the naïve, beautiful country girl who is going to live a fairy tale life when a handsome prince will sweep her off her feet. Thus, capturing the hearts of the readers, and immediately setting us against Alec, the antagonist, without a shred of sympathy. Alec pesters Tess with his ¿love¿ and ruins her chances by robbing her of her innocence, forever scarring her. Tess is presented with one chance to right her life with Angel, the love of her life, and her, his. Their unconditional love for one another touches the reader, evoking feelings of hope and optimism for the couple, although their happiness is ephemeral when Alec yet again, dashes it. By this point, the reader is frustrated and seething with anger toward Alec who constantly ruins things. There finally comes a point when Tess and Angel are reunited and the reader breathes a sigh of relief, but Hardy takes an unexpected twist at the end, leaving the reader unsatisfied and discontent. It feels like Hardy has taken us on a great roller coaster, and we¿re climbing up a steep incline, only to slowly glide down a tiny hill, and at the very end, there¿s a sharp turn, jolting the reader. The overall book is fabulously unsatisfying.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is an EXTRAORDINARY story of how the young Tess Durbyfield is torn between two lovers, a romantic, Alec D'Urberville and a preachers son, Angel Clare. She finds before meeting Alec her troubles begin when she accidentally kills the family horse. After meeting Alec and his blind mother she finds him attractive, and he her. After romancing, she realizes she doesn't love him, it is only infatuation. She returns home before venturing out again after her child dies. She finds work on a farm in a nearby town and meets Angel Clare. She had promised to never fall in love again, although Angel persisted they should be lovers. After turning down many proposals from Angel she finally accepts. On their honey-moon night, eat up with her guilt, Tess confesses her dark and mysterious past to Angel which causes him to become jealous since Alec is still alive. He decides to go away to Brazil until he can forgive Tess. While he is away Tess returns home yet again to tell her parents of what she had done. Tess decides to find and talk to Angels parents but her plan is thwarted. She travels to the near town and over-hears a preacher, but the voice sounds familiar. It is Alec! The two lovers see each other after so long. She refuses to talk to him and tell him of what she has done.....If I continue I will tell the most brilliant climax of the entire novel!!! You must read this book to find out what happens when the two lovers meet again, who forgives who, find out who is murdered, who is executed. The ending of this book is beyond shocking! This book may be a bit difficult to get into at first, but once you begin reading you can't put it down! You only wish to know what happens next!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Hardy is an absolute wonderful story-teller, but this book is definately not for the faint of heart. It takes a few chapters to really get into and the climax of the story really doesn't live up to the tale itself. Wonderful writing, but a let-down in the end.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is so hard to read. I have to read it for my high school English class and the dialect is crazy. It is so difficult! I mean, not to spoil it for anyone or anything, but I didn't even realize that she was raped. Really and truly, no idea. If you are going for a book that is not hard to understand and that is enjoyable, I'm sorry to say, but do not go for this book. Have a great life everyone! ~Krysti
littlebookworm on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I felt so sorry for Tess; she simply could not resist so many things, and no one supported her the way they should have. So many bad things happen to her that it's impossible not to feel for her, especially as most of them are not her fault. Her flaw perhaps is in caring too much for others in addition to the cruelties of fate, and this tragically leads to her end. This book is very Victorian in its depiction of women and how they are completely the property of men -- even in their own hearts. Not a modern viewpoint, but fascinating nonetheless.Hardy's writing, as ever, is beautiful and poignant, and to me enjoyable regardless of the tale he tells. Only rated four stars for its sheer depressing nature, but highly worth a read anyway.
Ezekiel99 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
How much more melodrama could possibly be wrung from this story? There is no hope at all in the characters in this novel. A downward spiral of depression and misery.
lauralkeet on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was surprised how much I liked this book. Thomas Hardy tells a tragic story of a young Victorian woman who is truly a victim of both her society, and a few people who hold influence over her. I thought the book would be a difficult and depressing read, and yet, even though I knew this to be a tragedy, I found myself immersed in the story and rooting for Tess the entire time. At the beginning of the book, Tess Durbeyfield's father learns he is descended from a great family known as D'Urberville, and sends the 16-year-old Tess off to meet a branch of the D'Urbervilles living nearby. Her parents hope she will make a good match and better their social status and economic prospects. Alec D'Urberville is smitten with Tess, but seduces her and treats her cruelly. Tess returns home having disappointed her parents. Later she makes her way as an agricultural worker, meets Angel Clare, and falls deeply in love. As the son of an evangelical preacher, Angel has his own "issues," which get in the way of their relationship. As a Victorian woman, Tess is largely dependent on others: her parents, the landowners she works for, and men she hopes will bring her happiness and security. She is thwarted at every turn. In many cases, Tess is part of her own undoing through her naivete and submission to male figures. And at the same time she is a strong figure, persistent in the face of adversity and able to take a single, decisive action when she has finally had enough. I will remember Tess for a long time.
Pyobon on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A hugely engaging book. This is the first Hardy I have read since the mid 1970s when I hated the Mayor of Casterbridge as required reading as a school student. Friends persuaded me to try him again and my prejudices have been shattered. Whilst at places there was some of the ponderous and prolix descriptions of pastoral life with which I had no patience when younger, they added charm and depth to a compelling story. The book brilliantly combines important social points with clever plot, engaging characters and well painted descriptions which all draw you in. Glad I read the ebook - so much easier when you don't know a word just to tap on it, rather than ponder whether to look for the dictionary.
jpsnow on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is so masterfully executed that I rate it a 5. What I especially like was Hardy's ability to describe everything so elegantly, including the scenery and the emotions. He excels at using just enough brushstroke to convey his ideas, while leaving everything else to the reader to complete. The themes are simple, yet profound. The book is reminiscent of ancient Greek classics in several ways. The characters live tragic lives, some linked to the downfall of their ancestors. There are also natural and spiritual forces at work. Hardy even interjects narrated commentary that immediately reminded me of the remarks we hear from the Greek chorus of the great plays. I suspect such narrative seemed very modern in the late 19th century.Also Modern were some of Hardy's phrases, such as the "vegeto-human pollen" he describes in a village dance scene. To me, the primary struggle Hardy was exposing was the balance between human nature and societal norms. Several times, he interposed comments such as: She was ashamed of herself for her gloom of the night, based on nothing more tangible than a sense of condemnation under an arbitrary law of society which had no foundation in Nature. Given the time in which this book was written, I also believe Hardy was showing the tension that comes with our migration away from agrarian society. The description of the threshing machine and the engineer are examples supporting this.
kemeki on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An amazing novel! Hardy is a genius, and Tess a fabulous heroine. The ending is moving. It's interesting to see a novel without a heroic male.
Johnny1978 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It's almost impossible to rate a novel without taking into account its place in the canon. 'Tess' is an iconic novel about hypocrisy, seduction, betrayal. suffering and the compromises we make for love. It's indisputably a powerful and beautifully structured story - Hardy's descriptive prose is like poetry and his characters are fully (in some cases painfully) realised. As a reader it left me stunned - Hardy wields tragic irony like a cudgel and he's never met a trauma he doesn't love.
anna_in_pdx on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Dear Tom,Why do I keep reading your books? No one, and I mean no one, treats his characters (or her characters) as badly as you do. Well, maybe with the exception of Upton Sinclair, who must have been greatly influenced by you.I read Jude the Obscure several years ago and closed the book with a "Never Again." I was sure I could not bear to read another one of your books after somehow finishing it in spite of that awful letter from the kids "Because we are too menny". I can't figure out what your overall point is except that if one is poor, one is destined to be miserable and that is all there is to it. I guessed what Tess would be about just from its title. I've read lots and lots of other 19th century fiction. Many books have treated the issue of women who lose their chastity, as it would have been put at the time. Many books are pretty grim about their fate. However, you manage to make it worse than the norm because your characters are so very sympathetic. As I read on, I know that Tess' life is going to go from bad to worse, that her ridiculous level of nobility will end up undoing her, that all bad things will happen to her. Sure enough, but what else would we expect of you. What is the point, Tom? Why do you write these novels? What do you want your readers to do? Unlike Dickens, you don't seem to be a social reformer. You don't seem to ever paint the slightest possibility of an alternative to all this woe. On the other hand, your respectful-but-not-convinced portrayal of evangelical Christianity doesn't seem to show religion as a way out, either. Were you just trying to convey existentialist despair? Weren't you a little too early for this?I am really giving you up this time. This is it. You have been too cruel on your characters and your readers and this is the last of your novels I plan to read. How could you, Tom? You are too cruel, and I will never forgive you.Yr servant,Anna
PeterStockwell on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I found Tess to be in the top three of annoying women in fiction. But I did finish the book.
ctpress on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Poor Tess. I'm ready for the tragedy. I know it's coming. After all it's Thomas Hardy and he doesn't repeat Far From Madding Crow. Yet, with what force you experience Tess' downfall. So many sins committed against her - and no wonder she doesn't want to have anything to do with God after being presented with such a distorted view of Christianity. From the strict hypocritical father of Angel, Alec's insincere conversion - and Angel himself with his judgmental attitude. "Justice was done, and the President of the Immortals had ended his sport with Tess¿¿ Well, I don't know Mr. Hardy.
theboylatham on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago

Four out of ten. eBook.

Tess is a young peasant girl whose father discovers is descended from nobility. She sets off to meet the family from which she is descended and runs into a rather cruel Alex D'Urberbville. She puts this meeting behind her but this once-in-a-lifetime meeting keeps coming back to haunt her.

Another old book that has little relevance with modern life. The attitudes towards love and marriage displayed are so antiquated that they seem ridiculous which dilutes the obvious message of the book. Another slow-moving and predictable 'classic'.

soliloquies on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Least favourite of Hardy's books - hated it the first time I read it and then had to dissect it for college and hated it more. Poor old Tess, you want to reach into the book and shake her. Hardy's writing suffers in comparison to his other works - it just progresses into misery and depression.
jayne_charles on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was the first Hardy I attempted as an adult, having hated every minute of studying Far from the Madding Crowd at school. I was surprised at how readable this is, despite the long passages describing country life which pop up in most of his novels.The first section was a little slow, but it picked up considerably about a third of the way in, developing into almost-edge-of-the-seat stuff, before giving way to melodrama towards the end, and a conclusion that really shook me up.It made me think about the way things have changed, how this story could never happen in modern times because moral values and society have changed so much. Not always for the better, but on the basis of this tale I know which age I'd rather live in!One gripe - Angel Clare doesn't sound remotely like a bloke's name.
careburpee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What can I say-I love Hardy. Why do I love an author whose books seem to move from one heartbreak to another? He is definitely not one you read for a light pick-me-up, that is for certain. But his writing is so nuanced that it feels as if I am floating down a quiescent rural stream; I know turbulent water lies ahead-I can feel the increasing pull beneath me-yet there seems to be no urgency to try to pull away in opposition. Going there just seems to be the natural flow of life. So why do I love this man whose plots I willingly follow into the very depths of despondency? Because the prose...oh, the prose!Thomas Hardy is a master of every literary element. For him, setting, especially, takes on such presence that it becomes an amalgamation of every place you have ever been. All of your senses become engaged. You hear the church bells peal across the meadow. The flank of the cow against Tess' cheek feels warm and fluid beneath your own. As she toils in the field you feel the grit of harvested grain in the sweaty crease of your neck and taste its dryness in your mouth. You feel refreshed by the wind and gladdened by the birds in flight.When it comes to character, Hardy is the consummate teacher. We don't just know that Tess' mother is hard at work on wash day. Her weariness is palpable. We aren't told that Tess is a good daughter. She pitches in just where she is needed, time and time again. Each character, major and minor, is presented so completely through their speech and actions that the narrator need fill in very little. For me they each even acquire a distinctive voice in my head.So if you have shied away from Hardy for lack of interest in his wrenching plots, I urge you to give one of his novels a try and experience the power of his incomparable prose.
mausergem on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
John Durbeyfield is a poor artisan in the village of Marlott finds out that he is a descendant of an old family the d'Urbervilles, which is now extinct. He and his wife are overjoyed. There is a rich family of the same name in the next county. So they sent their daughter, Tess to their supposed relative to better her prospects. There Tess finds out that they have adopted that name. Eric d¿Uberville is a womanizer and he seduces Tess. Tess gets pregnant and returns to her own house. The baby is born and dies. Tess moves away from her house and takes up a job as a dairymaid. At the dairy farm, Angel a parson¿s son who is learning the farming profession, falls in love with Tess and after a lot of persuasion Tess agrees to marry him but she could not bring herself to tell him of her past. On their honeymoon when she tells him about her past Angel is distraught and leaves her to go to Brazil.Tess moves away to a farm and works as a farm hand. She has a chance meeting with Eric who again tries to seduce her. Tess resists his overtures again and again. In the meantime Tess¿ father dies and the family is forced to move out of Marlott. Finding herself cornered Tess implores her husband to come to her and forgive her. As she gets no reply from Angel she takes up with Eric for her and her families sake.In Brazil Angel is having a torrid time and returns to England. His stint in Brazil has cured him of his reserve against his wife and seeks her out but it is already too late. When he meets Tess she is shattered and in her rage kills Eric and runs away with Angel. The husband and wife spend a peaceful week in a deserted house before the law catches with them. Tess is tried and executed.A very well written book of love and loss.
vrchristensen on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is one of my favourite books. It is so beautifully written that even through the frustrations and hardships the heroine faces, you are drawn on by the power of the language and the force of the story. Hardy was trying to make an important point in the writing of this story, and while such a tale seems unimaginable in today's world, it nevertheless resonates, particularly with women. Shocking in it's day, Hardy's efforts were felt. Tess is a provocative look at the plight of the 19th century woman, unnaturally naive to a world run by world-wise men. I'm not sure I've ever recovered from this book, and it has been a powerful influence in my own work.
adb42 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
That just couldn't end well, could it? Quite a gloomy novel, well written as per usual with Hardy.
branful on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
most poetic and convincing of Hardy's novels
eleanor_eader on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I deeply prefer the morbid foreshadowing and brutal cynicism of 'Jude' to 'Tess'... never has reading a novel felt so exactly like being stifled by passive tragic heroine bosoms. I think my copy of this book actually removes air from any given room. Accordingly, I keep it in a closet.