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Far from the Madding Crowd

by Thomas Hardy

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
9,005161586 (3.96)579
'I shall do one thing in this life - one thing for certain - that is, love you, and long for you, and keep wanting you till I die.'Gabriel Oak is only one of three suitors for the hand of the beautiful and spirited Bathsheba Everdene. He must compete with the dashing young soldier Sergeant Troy and respectable, middle-aged Farmer Boldwood. And while their fates depend upon the choice Bathsheba makes, she discovers theterrible consequences of an inconstant heart.Far from the Madding Crowd was the first of Hardy's novels to give the name of Wessex to the landscape of south-west England, and the first to gain him widespread popularity as a novelist. Set against the backdrop of the unchanging natural cycle of the year, the story both upholds and questionsrural values with a startlingly modern sensibility. This new edition retains the critical text that restores previously deleted and revised passages.… (more)
  1. 71
    Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (Booksloth)
  2. 40
    Middlemarch by George Eliot (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: These 19th-century classics portray complex romantic relationships with vivid descriptions and a strong sense of place. With intricate, twisting plots, both offer their protagonists bleak outlooks that end in satisfying resolutions.
  3. 40
    The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy (Porua)
    Porua: I would like to recommend another Thomas Hardy novel, The Return of the Native. When I first read The Return of the Native it kind of surprised me to see how very similar it is to Far from the Madding Crowd. They are very similar in their story lines, characterization and narrative style.… (more)
  4. 10
    Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (Lapsus_Linguae)
    Lapsus_Linguae: Both main heroines are strong-willed independent women who take up entrepreneurship.
  5. 10
    The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë (Lapsus_Linguae)
    Lapsus_Linguae: Both novels feature a strong female protagonist trapped in an abusive marriage. Endings are also pretty similar.
  6. 22
    Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy (Booksloth)
  7. 24
    York Notes: Far from the Madding Crowd by Barbara Murray (Sylak)
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» See also 579 mentions

English (158)  French (1)  Swedish (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (161)
Showing 1-5 of 158 (next | show all)
I DNF at 11 percent. I don't hate myself that much to continue to read this.

I have no idea what the hell was going on for most of this book. I finally threw in the towel at 11 percent because I couldn't bear to keep reading "Bathsheba" over and over again. This is the worst name I can think of for any character in a book I have read before. I mean I had to sit and think for 10 minutes to see if I could come up with a worst name and finally just threw in the towel and gave up.

I read this book as part of the Dead Writers Society Literary Birthday Challenge for June 2016. Apparently Hardy and I are not going to be a thing and I am going to stay the heck away from his works in the future.

The book starts off with a snail pace and never does pick up. Saying one thing nice that I can find is that at least the chapters are short though. And I cracked up that the headings to each chapter just clued you in with what was going to happen. Other than that, I got nothing.

Reading about Farmer Oak (Gabriel) and how he came to meet the mysterious female that he sees (yes apparently even Hardy believed in insta-love) named Bathsheba Everdene. Since I read "The Hunger Games" about a dozen times every time the book would have Bathsheba talking I would picture Katniss doing it with a bow and arrow and her hair in a braid.

There's not much there here for me to want to continue to read. Gabriel is not developed at all. And though I guess I am supposed to care that Bathsheba spurned his marriage proposal, I got wonder what kind of fool was he to propose to someone he talked to once at this point.

The meet cute between this couple just turned me off of Bathsheba completely. I wish I would even think of trying to talk to someone after they kept messing with me about what their name was. Or maybe she's just as embarrassed of her name as I am and didn't want to say it out loud.

The writing was okay. I don't know. I found the whole book awkwardly paced and the description of every freaking thing had my eyes glazing over.

So glad to put this down and move onto another book. ( )
  ObsidianBlue | Jul 1, 2020 |
This was my introduction to Hardy. My local book club selected it last spring in advance of the release of the movie. I went into the book in complete ignorance, somehow never having read Hardy or even much heard of him. I'm doing all I can now to correct that ignorance, because Hardy proved to be an amazing writer.

I think that, since I knew that Madding Crowd was a romance, written in roughly the same era Jane Austen wrote about, I'd find it similar in tone and plot to one of her novels. I couldn't have been more wrong. While Austen usually writes about smart, beautiful people who are kept apart only by trivial misunderstandings, Hardy fills Madding Crowd with complicated characters with flaws that mesh perfectly with their virtues. Bathsheba's vanity allows her to rise to greatness as a female running her own farm and dealing with men as an equal, but also causes her to reject the love of a man she considers beneath her. She marries a scoundrel simply because he's handsome, glamorous, and charming, a master of seduction. Her pride blinds her from seeing how he's manipulating her.

The protagonist, Gabriel, is often shown in a comedic light, especially in the books opening pages. He's a poor, hardworking farmer with little in the way of polished manners. His initial proposal to Bathsheba is both touching and funny in its simplicity and lack of artfulness.

The daily life of working on a farm is drawn in rich detail, and left me yearning to feel as much connection to the earth as these people did. There was great beauty in their agrarian life, but Hardy doesn't shy away from showing the inevitable tragedies and hardships that come from such a close connection to the land. The thing I most admired about Hardy's characters is that the have to work, and work hard, just to survive, let alone thrive. His characters feel active and productive, unlike the characters in most Jane Austen novels, who usually strike me as idle leeches.

Having read much more Hardy now, this novel stands out from his other work as the only one that has anything even close to a happy ending, though that happy ending leaves one major character dead and another in a madhouse. If you haven't read Hardy, this is a good place to start your education. ( )
  James_Maxey | Jun 29, 2020 |
Nipping at her heels
a fool, nutjob, and scumbag
quite the quadrangle. ( )
1 vote Eggpants | Jun 25, 2020 |
As a woman, I think what I most gravitate towards when I'm looking for a "strong female character" is agency. The ability to make her own choices, knowing the consequences, and then continue to make them for better or worse in a way that feels like they're actually real choices a person would make. There are a surprising number of these kinds of characters in the classics (though they have a not-unfair reputation for being dominated by men's stories), and some of my favorite have been found in the work of Thomas Hardy. In his Far From The Madding Crowd, our central character is Bathsheba Everdene, who we watch grow from an inexperienced but capable young woman to owning and running her own farm and learning some brutally hard lessons about relationships, through her own effort and largely by her own hand. Bathsheba isn't without flaws, and some of the choices she makes are bad ones, but you never lose the sense that she's in control of her own destiny.

Bathsheba catches the eye of young farmer Gabriel Oak when she's on her way to live with a cousin to help out on the farm, and he soon grows besotted with her beauty. He proposes, but through they've built a friendly acquaintance, she shoots him down because she doesn't love him. She leaves when she inherits a farm of her own, and after financial disaster strikes and Gabriel loses his own toehold in the landed class, he winds up working for her as a shepherd. Unlike many owners (particularly female ones), she insists on being an active part of the operation of her land, and she and Gabriel become trusted allies to each other. When a silly joke with an older, eligible bachelor neighbor, Boldwood, leads to the other man's obsession with her, Bathsheba resists making a marriage with him as well but is under tremendous pressure to accept his suit. And then Sergeant Troy happens...he's young and hot and even though his heart belongs to his childhood sweetheart, he and Bathsheba have a whirlwind fling that ends in holy matrimony. Drama ensues.

If you can read Hardy without feeling a passionate longing to go spend some time out in the middle of nowhere for a while, you're a stronger person than I am. He doesn't gloss over the very real toil of rural life, but he presents it so persuasively as the most harmonious way to live that it makes you think about what it would be like to chuck it all and go buy a little piece of land and work it yourself. I would never do that, I know I'd hate it about 48 hours in, but Hardy was very concerned with growing industrialization and his preference to maintain traditional pastoral lifestyles is obvious. But his real strength lies in his complicated, multifaceted characters. While Gabriel Oak is a little on the idealized side, Bethsheba, Boldwood, and Troy are all painted in shades of grey that give them nuance and interest, and the drama derives from circumstances that mostly feel organic, giving real weight to their choices and interactions.

The more classics I've read in my late 20s and beyond, the more convinced I am that we do young readers a disservice by insisting on reading them in high school. While there's nothing going on here at a conceptual level that a reasonably intelligent teenager couldn't grasp, there's also so much more that you can bring into the novel of your own experience once you have some under your belt that gives it so much more life. If I'd tried to read this at 16, I doubt I would have cared for it, but at 32 (which is how old I was when I read it) it's got full layers of meaning that I really responded to. It's lengthy, but it moves along pretty well, and I would definitely recommend giving it a read! ( )
  GabbyHM | Jun 24, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 158 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (53 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Thomas Hardyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Allingham, HelenIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dickerson, GeorgeIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Drabble, MargaretIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lee, JohnNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mathias, RobertCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
O'Toole, TessNotessecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Smith, Nicholas GuyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vance, NormanIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Canonical title
Original title
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Alternative titles
Original publication date
1874 ( [1874])
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Epigraph
From wikipedia 19 Dec 2011 - Hardy took the title from Thomas Gray's poem 'Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard' (1751):
Far from the madding 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.
Dedication
First words
When Farmer Oak smiled, the corners of his mouth spread till they were within an unimportant distance of his ears, his eyes were reduced to chinks, and diverging wrinkles appeared round them, extending upon his countenance like the rays in a rudimentary sketch of the rising sun.
On 30 November 1872 a letter arrived at Thomas Hardy's isolated cottage in Dorset that must by any standards be considered astonishing. (Introduction)
Quotations
It appears that ordinary men take wives because possession is not possible without marriage, and that ordinary women accept husbands because marriage is not possible without possession; with totally differing aims the method is the same on both sides.
It is difficult for a woman to define her feelings in language which is chiefly made by men to express theirs.
Bathsheba loved Troy in the way that only self-reliant women love when they abandon their self-reliance. When a strong woman recklessly throws away her strength she is worse than a weak woman who has never any strength to throw away. One source of her inadequacy is the novelty of the occasion. She has never had practice in making the best of such a condition. Weakness is doubly weak by being new.
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Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141439653, 0141198931

Tantor Media

An edition of this book was published by Tantor Media.

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