The Return of the Native

The Return of the Native

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Overview

Eustacia Vye longs to escape from Egdon Heath, but the man she chooses to save her longs to stay. Out of their struggle, the unfulfilled passion of his heroine, and the daily rhythms of late-nineteenth-century rural life, Hardy builds a drama fully worthy of the magnificent stage on which he places it.

The Return of the Native is dominated by the brooding presence of Egdon Heath, located in Thomas Hardy’s imaginary Wessex, and in no other book did Hardy’s extraordinary feeling for landscape blend so perfectly with his austere, stoic vision of human fate.

Once more he treats his favorite theme of the mismatched couple with masterly pathos and understatement.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780679417309
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/28/1992
Series: Everyman's Library
Pages: 552
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range: 14 - 18 Years

About the Author

THOMAS HARDY, whose writings immortalized the Wessex countryside and dramatized his sense of the inevitable tragedy of life, was born near Egdon Heath in Dorset in 1840, the eldest child of a prosperous stonemason. As a youth he trained as an architect and in 1862 obtained a post in London. During this time he began seriously to write poetry, which remained his first literary love and his last. In 1867-68, his first novel was refused publication, but Under the Greenwood Tree (1872), his first Wessex novel, did well enough to convince him to continue writing. In 1874, Far from the Madding Crowd, published serially and anonymously in the Cornhill Magazine, became a great success. Hardy married Emma Gifford in 1874, and in 1875 they settled at Max Gate in Dorchester, where he lived the rest of his life. There he wrote The Return of the Native (1878), The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886), Tess of the d’Urbervilles (1891), and Jude the Obscure (1895). With Tess, Hardy clashed with the expectations of his audience; a storm of abuse broke over the “infidelity” and “obscenity” of this great novel he had subtitled “A Pure Woman Faithfully Presented.” Jude the Obscure aroused even greater indignation and was denounced as pornography. Hardy’s disgust at the reaction to Jude led him to announce in 1896 that he would never write fiction again. He published Wessex Poems in 1898, Poems of the Past and Present in 1901, and from 1903 to 1908, The Dynasts, a huge drama in which Hardy’s conception of the Immanent Will, implicit in the tragic novels, is most clearly stated. In 1912, Hardy’s wife, Emma, died. The marriage was childless and had long been a troubled one, but in the years after her death, Hardy memorialized her in several poems. At seventy-four, he married his longtime secretary, Florence Dugdale, herself a writer of children’s books and articles, with whom he lived happily until his death in 1928. His heart was buried in the Wessex countryside; his ashes were placed next to Charles Dickens’s in the Poet’s Corner of Westminster Abbey.

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

A SATURDAY afternoon in November was approaching the time of twilight, and the vast tract of unenclosed wild known as Egdon Heath embrowned itself moment by moment. Overhead the hollow stretch of whitish cloud shutting out the sky was as a tent which had the whole heath for its floor.

The heaven being spread with this pallid screen and the earth with the darkest vegetation, their meeting-line at the horizon was clearly marked. In such contrast the heath wore the appearance of an instalment of night which had taken up its place before its astronomical hour was come: darkness had to a great extent arrived hereon, while day stood distinct in the sky. Looking upwards, a furze-cutter would have been inclined to continue work; looking down, he would have decided to finish his faggot and go home. The distant rims of the world and of the firmament seemed to be a division in time no less than a division in matter. The face of the heath by its mere complexion added half an hour to evening; it could in like manner retard the dawn, sadden noon, anticipate the frowning of storms scarcely generated, and intensify the opacity of a moonless midnight to a cause of shaking dread.

In fact, precisely at this transitional point of its nightly roll into darkness the great and particular glory of the Egdon waste began, and nobody could be said to understand the heath who had not been there at such a time. It could best be felt when it could not clearly be seen, its complete effect and explanation lying in this and the succeeding hours before the next dawn: then, and only then, did it tell its true tale. The spot was, indeed, a near relation of night, and when night showed itself an apparent tendency to gravitate together could be perceived in its shades and the scene. The sombre stretch of rounds and hollows seemed to rise and meet the evening gloom in pure sympathy, the heath exhaling darkness as rapidly as the heavens precipitated it. And so the obscurity in the air and the obscurity in the land closed together in a black fraternization towards which each advanced half-way.

The place became full of a watchful intentness now; for when other things sank brooding to sleep the heath appeared slowly to awake and listen. Every night its Titanic form seemed to await something; but it had waited thus, unmoved, during so many centuries, through the crises of so many things, that it could only be imagined to await one last crisis—the final overthrow.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements
Introduction
Thomas Hardy: A Brief Chronology
A Note on the Text

The Return of the Native

Appendix A: Prefaces and Maps

  1. The Preface to the 1895 Wessex Novels Edition
  2. The Postscript added to the 1912 Wessex Edition
  3. From the General Preface to the Novels and Poems (1912)
  4. Map of Egdon Heath (1878)
  5. Map of Wessex (1895)

Appendix B: Contemporary Reviews

  1. From The Athenaeum (23 November 1878)
  2. Hardy’s response to the Athenaeum review (30 November 1878)
  3. From W.E. Henley, The Academy (30 November 1878)
  4. From the Saturday Review (4 January 1879)
  5. From the Spectator (8 February 1879)
  6. From the New Quarterly Magazine (October 1879)
  7. From Havelock Ellis, “Thomas Hardy’s Novels,” Westminster Review (April 1883)

Appendix C: Philosophical and Political Contexts

  1. Positivism: from Auguste Comte, System of Positive Polity (1851−54; trans. 1875−76)
  2. The Individual and Freedom: from John Stuart Mill, On Liberty (1859)
  3. The Woman Question: from John Ruskin, Sesame and Lilies (1865) and John Stuart Mill, The Subjection of Women (1869)
  4. Hedonism and Modernity: from Walter Pater, Studies in the History of the Renaissance (1873)

Appendix D: Scientific Influences

  1. From Charles Lyell, Principles of Geology (1830−33)
  2. From Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection (1859)
  3. From Herbert Spencer, The Principles of Biology (1864−67)
  4. From Thomas Hardy, A Pair of Blue Eyes (1873)

Appendix E: Other Writings by Hardy

  1. A Selection of Hardy’s Poetry
    1. Hap
    2. At a Bridal
    3. Neutral Tones
    4. Nature’s Questioning
    5. An August Midnight
    6. The Dead Man Walking
    7. By the Barrows
    8. The Roman Road
    9. The Moth-Signal
    10. The Oxen
    11. Welcome Home
    12. The Graveyard of Dead Creeds
    13. Domicilium
  2. From “The Dorsetshire Labourer” (1883)
  3. From “The Profitable Reading of Fiction” (1888)
  4. From “Candour in English Fiction” (1890)
  5. From The Life of Thomas Hardy (1928; 1930)

Appendix F: The Play of Saint George

Appendix G: Arthur Hopkins’s Illustrations for the Monthly Serialization of Belgravia (1878)

Select Bibliography

Reading Group Guide

1. What does Egdon Heath symbolize to you? How does each character relate to the heath? To what extent does the landscape control the actions of the characters or influence them? How do the characters resist or succumb to the landscape? What is the role of urban life in the novel?

2. Discuss Clym's spiritual odyssey. How does it shed light on Hardy's concerns in the novel? Would you describe Clym as idealistic? How does his attitude compare to that of the people of Egdon Heath or that of Eustacia?

3. Why does Eustacia hate Egdon Heath? Is she too headstrong? How much control does Eustacia have over events that shape her life? Over the lives of others? Do you think Eustacia symbolizes human limitation or potential? Do you think her death is a reconciliation of sorts, or not?

4. Discuss the role of fate or chance in the novel. Is Hardy sympathetic to the victims of chance in this novel? To what extent are events caused by the force of a character's personality (e.g., Eustacia), rather than by chance? To what extent do actions produce results opposite from that desired? Do you think there is a connection between this use of irony and the role of fate in the novel?

5. Discuss the novel's opening scene, in which Hardy describes Egdon Heath. How does this establish the emotional tone of the book? How does it foreshadow the action within the novel?

6. Why is Eustacia interested in Clym? How does this set the wheels of the plot in motion? How does this affect the other characters, like Thomasin and particularly Clym's mother? What is Wildeve's role in Mrs. Yeobright's fate?

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The Return of the Native 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 58 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
First of all, I just have to say...WHOA! What a deep, intriguing novel! Loved it all the way. Anyways, let's get to the review part. This novel is, for the most part, a tale of love distorted. The story pivots around five central characters. Eustacia Vye (a sexy, flirtatious muse lusting for vibrant city-life), Clym Yeobright (an intelligent young man who returns from Paris to relax in his native town, and weds the gorgeous Eustacia), Diggory Venn (the shy, shadowman of the novel, obsessively in love with Thomasin, he becomes her guardian angel in a sense that he refuses to allow any harm to come to her), Thomasin (Clym's cousin, who is delicate and innocent and mistakingly weds Damon), and Damon Wildeve (basically a 'player' who impulsively weds Thomasin when it appears that his passionate affair with Eustacia has fizzled). At last, all of these emotions boil over and result in a dynamic climax goading us towards a subtle, relieving ending. This book was embroidered with human sentiment and stenciled in sheer love. Can one ever tell where the heart truly leads? I don't know...but this book certainly opens up some doors.
mdee63 More than 1 year ago
I couldn't stop thinking about the characters after reading the book. Read to stimulate the brain. I enjoyed it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book has one of the most brilliant tragic heroines of all time. It is beautifully written and every detail is meaningful. Read it for sure!
Guest More than 1 year ago
In my senior year of high school, I was made to read this novel. I was reluctant at first but I did not have to read very far before I was completely immersed in the plot. I could not put it down and then I wanted to read it again when I was done. It is a tragic love story, but it is not as cliche as Romeo and Juliet has become and is more unpredictable. My favorite book of all time!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I actually purchased this on CD for the sole reason that it was narrated by Alan Rickman. He has a marvelous voice. I didn't know much about the story but was drawn in by his portrayal of the many characters in the story. The voices he uses for each character are unique and I knew which character he was speaking as when listening to the story. The first chapter, might put people off as it describes Egdon Heath in great detail. I listened to it twice as it was confusing. Once the human characters entered the scene, it just drew me in. Hardy writes with much detail in this story. I felt I knew and understood the characters and miss them now that the story has concluded. I would hope that Alan Rickman reads another book - makes it all the better!
Guest More than 1 year ago
You'd expect Hardy to be something English students have to suffer through, but I thoroughly enjoyed this one. A pleasant surprise. Eustacia and Clym are far from the stereotypical repressed Englishfolk. I actually related to this and it was surprisingly suspenseful!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I enjoy many of the works by Hardy but this one I am indifferent to. The beginning was not as easy read and boring at times. The actual story line was very interesting and the ending an utter dissapointment. The ending seemed to cliche frmo any other romantic tragedy. Through it all I enjoy Hardy's writing style and focus on character development along descriptions on pretty much everything.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've always admired Thomas Hardy's work. This book has a plot that is very well developed. Like most the books, the beginning is hard to get through. But I liked the ending very much.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Hardy's masterpiece is perhaps the best description in a novel in English litterature. With the vivid image of the heath coupled with the absorbing plot, and characters whom excite, facinate and annoy (in the case of Clym) Rotn certainly is a timeless classic.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i personaly thought that the book contained a very interesting plot. the whol ei dea of the woman that wishes to leave and not capable f leaving. she needs a man to help her but in everyway she would find one. even if she has to marry him.
Anonymous 8 months ago
This Barnes and Noble edition has a publishing error in it: the endnotes, inspired by, comments and questions, and 'for further reading' are all about The Bostonians by Henry James. Obviously an error at the publishing company. I can only assume that if I order The Bostonians, I will receive the endnotes, etc. for Return of the Native? Please correct future editiions.
wrmjr66 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This novel has all the hallmarks of a classic Hardy novel: doomed love affairs, characters who make poor choices, a portentous environment. Added together, though, it falls a bit short of Hardy's best novels. I think the main problem is that all the characters are either uninteresting or ambiguous at best. Eustacia is probably the most interesting character as the love interest to the "Native" of the title, but she is still one-sided; all she wants is to get out of the heath and live a glamorous life in Paris. Of course, such aspirations are doomed from the outset in Hardy, and her dashed dream is the cornerstone that brings down all the others. Despite its weaknesses, its typical Hardian (Hardy-esque?) strengths make it a worthwhile read.
MaowangVater on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Egdon Heath is a sparsely settled wilderness in the southwest of England. It¿s dominated by the wind, the sky and the feral vegetation of fern and furze. It is, as the author introduces it in the first chapter, ¿a face on which time has made but little impression.¿ To its native inhabitants it¿s a quiet county refuge from the bustle and commotion of the mid-nineteenth century, but to young Eustacia Vye it¿s a wilderness of exile from civilized life from which she has little hope of escape. Damon Wildeve, her former boyfriend and owner of the local inn is about to marry Tamsin Yeobright, a pleasing and innocent girl from a good family, and Eustacia is suffering bitter pangs of envy and jealousy. Damon wasn¿t all that much of a catch, but emotional entanglement with him was her only source of relief from the tedium of county life. And then she hears that Tamsin¿s cousin is coming for a visit. He¿s a clever and promising young man, a diamond trader who lives in Paris ¿ Paris the heart of civilization, culture and beauty. But how will she manage a visit to the home of her rival? Eustacia begins to scheme. The characters carry their passions, pride and false assumptions about the motives of their fellows with them as they criss-cross the heath, but ultimately human plans are overwhelmed by the geographies of heath, history, and social convention. But in this reading is of the final, 1912, edition of the novel, only one is able to fulfill his desire. Architect turned novelist Hardy constructs from a realistic masterpiece of beautiful and brooding tragedy. And for the listener, the combination of Hardy¿s prose and Rickman¿s voice is a rich and sensual delight.
eleanor_eader on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Eustacia Vye lives with her grandfather on Hardy¿s famous Egdon Heath, suffering its loneliness by waiting for rescue in a state of undirected passion. At first attracted to the unavailability of the formerly attentive Wildeve, she next clings to the arrival of Clym Yeobright, who falls in love with and marries her; but her notion of rescue involves leaving the heath far behind, and Clym means to stay; and, as this is Thomas Hardy, events tend tragedy-wards.It took me an inordinately long to time to get around to listening to this; my lassitude was caused in part by being bitten by Tess of the D¿Urbervilles at an early age, and in part by not being sure whether I¿d want to read along, or just listen (I don¿t often `read¿ by audiobook, and the experience wasn¿t something I imagined I¿d enjoy without a book in hand as well). As it turns out, all one can do is listen; Alan Rickman¿s voice is tyrannical in its insistence on absolute devotion of attention.I was hooked from word one¿ what rapturously bleak descriptions of the heath-land Hardy embarks upon, and my own inner voice would have done it scant justice; if the entire book had simply been Mr. Rickman vocalising Hardy¿s lyrical rural scenic creation, I wouldn¿t have cared, even though once he began to bring the voices of characters alive I was captured anew. Then the plot begins to emerge, people move about and Mr. Rickman slips gracefully into the background and lets the story do its work... the story is a grand mixture of the unfortunate, the desperate, the hysterical, the passive and the hopeful that I have met in Hardy¿s other works; his plots, while readable, are secondary to the description, as with no other writer but each of the characters in The Return of the Native inspire pity and interest in the listener.I have no idea if the experience of simply reading The Return of the Native would have moved me to a five-star rating; I only know that this edition of the book, with its sublime marriage of writing and reading, has absolutely captivated me for hours on end.
lit_chick on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
2007, BBC Audiobooks, Read by Alan RickmanThe Return of the Native, set exclusively on Egdon Heath, opens with reddleman Diggory Venn transporting home a naïve, disgraced Thomasin Yeobright, who was to have married innkeeper Damon Wildeve, earlier in the day. Wildeve, we soon learn, is preoccupied with the novel¿s heroine, Eustasia Vye, undoubtedly one of literature¿s great characters. Eustasia is intelligent, devious, passionate, and a manipulative object of desire ¿ I did not find her likeable, but she was completely enthralling. Believing herself superior, she detests life on the Heath, and in this vein, she sets out in self-serving pursuit of Clym Yeobright, the ¿native,¿ who has just returned to Egdon from Paris, where he has been living a prosperous life as a diamond merchant. Twists of fate thwart even the best laid plans, of course, and the characters are inexorably entwined in complex relationships which Eustacia¿s ambition has set in motion.Hardy¿s language is beautifully mellifluous; the novel¿s narrative is richly layered, read in many voices. Themes include the celebration of the pagan, the primitive, and the pastoral. Hardy glorifies the simplicity of life for the working classes and celebrates the pastoral for its superiority. Egdon Heath is a character in its own right; Clym experiences perfect harmony with nature when he goes to work cutting furze:¿Bees hummed around his ears with an intimate air, and tugged at the heath and furze-flowers at his side in such numbers as to weigh them down to the sod. The strange amber-coloured butterflies which Egdon produced, and which were never seen elsewhere, quivered in the breath of his lips, alighted upon his bowed back, and sported with the glittering point of his hook as he flourished it up and down. Tribes of emerald-green grasshoppers leaped over his feet, falling awkwardly on their backs, heads, or hips, like unskillful acrobats, as chance might rule; or engaged themselves in noisy flirtations under the fern-fronds with silent ones of homely hue. Huge flies, ignorant of larders and wire-netting, and quite in a savage state, buzzed about him without knowing that he was a man. In and out of the fern-dells snakes glided in their most brilliant blue and yellow guise, it being the season immediately following the shedding of their old skins, when their colours are brightest. Litters of young rabbits came out from their forms to sun themselves upon hillocks, the hot beams blazing through the delicate tissue of each thin-fleshed ear, and firing it to a blood-red transparency in which the veins could be seen.¿ (Bk 4, Ch 2)The Return of the Native is timeless, the mark of a true classic for me. I cannot say enough about Alan Rickman¿s accomplishment as narrator. Sublime! Highly recommended.
mritchie56 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Hardy's wife has been quoted as saying that, for all the memorable female characters he created, Hardy knew nothing about real women. I can believe that. Though I enjoyed this book, it plays out like a variation on Far From the Madding Crowd, with another woman, Eustacia Vye, who suffers and causes others to suffer, yet doesn't seem to act in a psychologically consistent or realistic way. As in Madding Crowd, the most sympathetic character gets some happiness in the end, but no one else does. Physical descriptions are gorgeous.
RicDay on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I think this is the best of Hardy's novels. Dark, complicated, with characters who make difficult and not often happy decisions. Eustacia Vye is especially well drawn. Worth reading more than once.
aethercowboy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Return of the Native is one of those books you're forced to read in high school. And as such, you're prone to hate it, because high school English teachers make you dissect the creature of literature before you actually get a chance to observe it in action, and you are forced to make observations on the structure of the cold, dead literature, instead of actually observing the living literature in its natural environment.If this is you, please give it a second chance.The story itself is all in the title: someone comes (back) to town. This town, Egdon Heath (one of the few towns in non-genre literature to be widely considered a character in its own right), and its inhabitants receive Clement "Clym" Yeobright back from Paris.It was Thomas Wolfe to whom we attribute the quote "You can never go home again." This is not to mean "We'll lock up behind you, and post sentries," but rather, as time flows, nothing is truly immutable. When you do come back home, it won't be the same. Some furniture will be moved, everybody will be older, and things will be different.But things that are different aren't always bad. You could meet that nice raven-haired lady everyone thinks is a witch, and end up marrying her. You, thinking about settling down, her, thinking about escaping the malevolent town in which she lives.Such is life, especially life in Edgon Heath.This book is recommended for those who have read and enjoyed other works by Hardy, or who enjoy other literary achievements of the time. Also recommended for rereading anybody who was forced to read it in high school.
GlennBell on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A sad but interesting story. The story includes several tragic characters of which several die. Thomas Hardy twines an interesting set of relationships and personalities in the story. He is an excellent author and I highly recommend his writings.
Audacity88 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The eloquence and grandeur of Hardy's writing cannot disguise the soap-opera nature of his story. Melodrama and coincidence figure largely, removing the interest from the actions of its intriguing characters.
RobertDay on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read this first in the early 1970s as a set book at school. We had a little joke, inspired by the then UK Prime Minister Edward Heath; we expressed the view, privately amongst ourselves, that 'Egdon Heath' was a character, perhapos the key character in the novel. But we never dared breathe a word of this to our teacher, becausae we were sure we were just being daft.imagine my surprise, years later, in finding that many critics agree with us! Egdon Heath, the setting of this novel, is considered to be a major character, with a brooding poresence throuighout the novel and affecting the actions andf disposition of the muchmore minor, merely human characters.
bilblio on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Oh how I hate this book. I had to study it for English A-level and reading it was torturous. It took me so long, as I kept falling asleep I was so bored.Chapter 1 describes a moor. Chapter 2 describes a man walking across the moor. Chapter 3 describes the man meeting someone on the moor... and so on.The moor is the main character in the book (we concluded at A-level), and while I can spend hours watching the changes on the moors opposite my house I don't really want to spend hours reading about one. I really like Hardy's other novels but I'll only be reading this again if I'm suffering from a prolonged bout of insomnia.
branful on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What¿I cannot agree with this novel is most of the important actions in this novel are detemined by the unconfirmed presumptions (by Eustacia, Clym and Mrs Yeobright). No characters in the book or the unconfirmed presumptions (by Eustacia, Clym and Mrs Yeobright). No characters in the book or thE narrator try to rectify this error. This is unacceptable and deprives the basic sympathy narrator try to rectify this error. This is unacceptable and deprives the basic sympathy toward this book from me. On the other hand, I am charmed by the good prose and the right words. In this head, HardThemots just.y is much better than Austin or Forster. I should like to admit that I am rather sympathetic with Wildeve. Although he was not loyal to Eustacia through and through, his indecision was understandable and eventually, he proved to be faithful at heart to Eustacia. That is a comparative feat, and as much as possible for an average man.
JediJane on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Return of the Native is simply a fictional marvel; moving me as a teenager as much as it did as an adult. Its characters are so rich, yet none so omnipresent and foreboding as the Heath itself, which pervades the lives of all of the book's characters. I don't often give 5stars, but just thinking about this makes me want to read it again.
wenestvedt on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
There's nothing like a heavy dose of dark Hardy to wring a deep sigh from the cheeriest breast.