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Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
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Far from the Madding Crowd (edition 1874)

by Thomas Hardy (Author)

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6,29686633 (3.97)329
aethercowboy's review
Thomas Hardy makes his characters work for their rewards, as is apparent from my reading of his books. Far from the Madding Crowd is no exception.

In Far from the Madding Crowd, we meet Gabriel Oak, a successful farmer, a knowledgeable shepherd, and an unrequited lover of his next door neighbor. Tragedy strikes his herd, and he finds himself destitute, until he gains employment under the owner of some large farm with sheep. This owner, turns out, is the woman he once loved.

In this state, he watches the farmer next door and a handsome soldier vie for her attention, and nothing really goes well for anybody. Typical Hardy. In the end, some people get what they wanted, but perhaps not what they still want.

While Hardy’s writing can, at times, be dismally depressing, his characters seem real, and there’s plenty of humor in the stories to give them an overall bittersweet flavor to a discerning reader. For that reason, as well as for the fact that his writing can stand the test of time, and be completely readable nowadays as it probably was when it was originally written, I recommend this to readers of classic literature, as well as fine literature.

While it has no sparkly vampires, no wizarding teens, and no extraterrestrial visitors, it has real, honest people, and that gets the job done. ( )
  aethercowboy | Jun 8, 2012 |
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A story of independent Bathsheba and the three very different men who loved her set in Thomas Hardy's Wessex. Tragic and passionate. ( )
  trile1000 | Jul 7, 2014 |
This was my third work by Thomas Hardy, following The Mayor of Casterbridge and Jude the Obscure, both of which I thought were outstanding.

Far from the Madding Crowd is very much in the same style. If you are a fan of Hardy, you will enjoy this book. As always, Hardy's story telling ability is top notch. His writing is fluid, descriptive and flows easily.

On the negative side, I thought this work started far too slowly, and could have been tighter. While there were sections that were true "page turners," other sections were simply too long and/or unnecessarily descriptive.

Not Hardy's best work, but still enjoyable. ( )
  la2bkk | Jun 7, 2014 |
It's been a few days since I finished Far From The Madding Crowd but life has been crazy so I haven't had the time to write this review, which is unlike me because I usually make time. Oh well, here we go anyway...

My first experience with Hardy came from Tess of the d'Urbervilles, which completely surprised me. I loved it. But it had been a while since then so I opened this one without a great deal of expectation despite the 'classic' status. After finding the first couple of chapters a little slow, general setting the scene type chapters, by the time we met Bathsheba again on her own farm I was really enjoying it.

Bathsheba Everdene is spirited and independent and fiercely determined to be able to run her uncle's farm after firing the stealing bailiff (manager). This was the part of her I most admired. She cared about the farm and her employees, she was resourceful and clever - I hadn't realised that female characters like her popped up in literature from the 1800s. What let me down was her stupidity when it came to men (although I realise without this there may have been no story!)

Gabriel Oak is our other main character in this story, and in him I can find few faults. His loyalty to Bathsheba may be considered a bit extreme but at least he wasn't crazy like Farmer Boldwood. No matter Gabriel's feelings, he put them aside to do his work and to build a friendship with Bathsheba that is perhaps one of my favourite literary friendships. He was the only one who would be completely honest with her and she respected his opinion even if she didn't always like it. What progressed seemed very natural, unlike her romances with Sergeant Troy and poor infatuated Farmer Boldwood, who I felt sorry for but really needed to just let go. He wanted her because he felt he deserved her, he loved her but without taking into account her feelings on the matter. There was no foundation for either of these romances like there was between her and Gabriel.

Hardy writes a great story although some of his description can get a bit tedious, I guess he just liked to set his scene. I really enjoyed the supporting characters in this novel as well as Bathsheba and Gabriel and I think it is a great addition to anyone's library.
( )
1 vote crashmyparty | May 5, 2014 |
I had previously read 2 of Hardy's other works, so I was not all that surprised that this one played out the way it did. Bathsheba, the heroine of the story, is living with a poor aunt in the hill country tending sheep, & meets Gabriel, himself a sheepman, having come down from the position of bailiff to a large landholding. When he loses his sheep to a tragic accident concerning a young & untrained dog, he is left penniless, & hires himself out as a shepherd at a job fair. By then, Bathsheba has inherited a large estate from her uncle when he passes away, & as it turns out, Bathsheba on the grounds of their previous friendship & initial romantic feeling for each other, hires him, but won't marry him. She eventually marries a ne'er do well soldier by the name of Troy, who is not a good man, to say the least. She also has to contend with Farmer Boldwood, who owns the neighboring estate, & who she on a whim sends a Valentine to, & causes him to fall in love with her, even though he is twice her age.

This book is a tragedy in the sense that she makes bad choices throughout, & has to deal with the consequences of those, as well as the men in her life. However, it does eventually have a happy ending...... ( )
  Lisa.Johnson.James | Apr 11, 2014 |
2008, Tantor Audiobooks, Read by John Lee

Young and beautiful Bathsheba Everdene comes into fortune by way of her uncle and moves to Weatherbury where she takes over the management of his large and profitable sheep farm. She draws the attention of three men, all of whom would have her hand in marriage. But Bathsheba is as naïve, rash, and impulsive as she is beautiful. She ignores Gabriel Oaks, an honest, humble, and loyal farmer and bailiff. She teases William Boldwood, her reserved and steady gentleman-neighbour, with an ill-begotten Valentine’s card bearing the message, “Marry me.” To her third lover, Francis Troy, handsome, vain, and irresponsible, Bathsheba falls prey. Her impetuousness will have disastrous personal consequences for her as well as the men who love her. But she will eventually mature into a comfortable life with one of her suitors.

Far From the Madding Crowd, like Hardy’s other Wessex novels, celebrates the simple agrarian life of farm labourers, a manner of living not yet encroached upon by industrialization. Scenes of sheep-shearing and sheep-washing create vivid images of workers engaged in the seasonal rituals of farm life. The novel is full of rich description and breathtaking prose which reveal Hardy’s closeness to nature. One such beautiful passage:

“It was the first day of June, and the sheep-shearing season culminated, the landscape, even to the leanest pasture, being all heath and colour. Every green was young, every pore was open, and every stalk was swollen with racing currents of juice. God was palpably present in the country, and the devil had gone with the world to town. Flossy catkins of the later kinds, fern-sprouts like bishops’ croziers, and square-headed moschatel, the odd cuckoo-pint – like an apoplectic saint in a niche of malachite, – snow-white ladies’-smocks, the toothwort, approximating to human flesh, the enchanter’s night shade, and the black-petaled doleful-bells, were among the quainter objects of the vegetable world in and about Weatherbury at this teeming time …” (Ch 22)

A fabulous read, beautifully narrated by John Lee. Highly recommended! ( )
  lit_chick | Feb 23, 2014 |
An English Literature Masterpiece ( )
  brone | Feb 19, 2014 |
Was surprised to find this book kind of trashy. Everything seemed simplistic and over the top, and the characters made such terrible, unrealistic decisions. Quick read, though. ( )
  thatotter | Feb 6, 2014 |
In nineteenth century England Gabriel Oak has worked himself up from a position as a shepherd to being a farmer in his own right. A solid, dependable, hard-working young man who is the master of his trade he seems likely to succeed in the world. And for such a solid young man Bathsheba Everdene, a headstrong and penniless girl of twenty or so who has recently come to live with her aunt nearby, is not the sort that he should be thinking of marrying. He admits to himself that a woman who can bring some money, or some stock for the farm, to the partnership would be much more sensible. But love is not always sensible, or indeed reciprocated, as Gabriel discovers when his attempts to woo Bathsheba with images of domestic bliss fall on deaf ears ('And at home by the fire, whenever you look up there I shall be -- and whenever I look up there will be you.') and his offer of marriage is refused.

But then comes a time of great change for both. When the bulk of Gabriel's sheep are killed when his new dog drives them over the edge of a quarry at night 'under the impression that since he was kept for running after sheep, the more he ran after them the better', he is left owning nothing more than the clothes that he stands up in, and is forced to hire himself out as a mere shepherd once more. While meanwhile Bathsheba's fortune's rise when she inherits the farm of an uncle in another neighbourhood and suddenly becomes a woman of property. Unable to find work locally, Gabriel travels further afield and is hired as shepherd on the very farm belonging to Bathsheba. And then the stage is set for the love triangle that occupies the rest of the novel as three men compete for the love of Bathsheba: Gabriel Oak, who is now very much her inferior in social status; Mr Boldwood, a neighbouring farmer and man of property to whom Bathsheba has thoughtlessly sent a valentine; and Sergeant Troy, a somewhat dissolute but dashing soldier.

In this novel the modern world ( well what constituted the modern world in nineteenth century England, anyway) does not intrude like it does it some of Hardy's other novels: the pattern of life in the village Weatherbury, where most of the novel is set, goes on as it has for centuries. I think this may perhaps be a reason why this is not my favourite of Hardy's novels. But still a great book.
( )
  SandDune | Jan 19, 2014 |
Far From the Maddening Crowd by Thomas Hardy

When Bathsheba Everdene, a beautiful young woman full of life inherits a farm and moves to the remote country she creates chaos in the hearts of the local men. She finds that her overseer has been stealing from the farm and fires him, determined to run the farm herself.

Gabriel, a local sheep farmer who is poor but rich in integrity soon proposes marriage to her but Bathsheba refuses him. She is not in love with him though she likes him very much.

Later she mischievously sends a valentine card to the wealthy farmer Boldwood. He too falls in love and becoming obsessed with her also proposes marriage. She refuses him as well for the same reason. She is not in love with him.

Then a handsome and charming young scoundrel of a
man, Sergeant Troy appears and Bathsheba falls madly
in love with him. They secretly wed but Bathsheba soon discovers that his one true love is one of her maids and that he is still in love with her.

Bathsheba eventually learns that Sergeant Troy is an unfaithful small minded husband who can be trusted neither with her heart nor her farm. When the young maid Fanny, who loved the Sergeant is discovered dying giving birth to his stillborn child he becomes terribly and inconsolably remorseful and leaves Bathsheba.

But this classic has much more to it than just the romantic interests. There is much about the farming and husbandry of those days that I found to be quite interesting. There are crops to be grown and harvested. There are also the interactions between all of the people in the novel.

My least favorite character was Bathsheba herself. She was a fairly flat character and even the peasant folk seemed to have more body to them.

I found this book to be lively & exciting which I know is quite the opposite of how some view Hardy's work. However I really enjoyed it and recommend it to those of you who enjoy the classics and to all Hardy lovers. ( )
3 vote rainpebble | Jan 15, 2014 |
Great book fully deserving of the title of classic. The fact that people who have reviewed this have such varied and vehement views about all of the various characters in the book suggests that it has been written well. A true classic is both loved and hated in equal measure. I can't imaging not falling in love with this book. If you have loved and lost then you will see yourself here somewhere. ( )
  polarbear123 | Nov 10, 2013 |
This was really not my cup of tea. I would likely have put it down early on, were it not for my drive to complete books (fostered in no small part by Goodreads). My main observation about it is that the most exciting scenes tended to be about sheep.

To be fair, Hardy has a certain stylistic audacity. But while his frequent digressions sometimes hit on a particularly beautiful or funny sentence, they usually come across as self-conscious and ineffective displays of literary wit. The ending of the book did charm me, despite all of my accumulated boredom and annoyance. On the whole, the story seems strong enough to carry a film adapation; I won't, however, be recommending the book to anyone I know. ( )
  breadhat | Jul 23, 2013 |
The main character of this 19th century British classic is Bathsheba Everdene, an independent woman who through an inheritance gains ownership of a farm. Bathsheba is feisty, smart and both willing and able to succeed in a man's world. That is until she falls in love with Sargeant Troy, a womanizer and overall scoundrel. This book could be a 19th century version of 'Why Women Choose the Wrong Men'. Although the language and the setting make this a classic, the personalities and the motivations were very much relevant to today's times.

I both listened and read this book - great narration by Nathaniel Parker (the Artemis Fowl narrator) who gives a stellar performance of the quirky rural characters in this book. This is only the 2nd Thomas Hardy that I've read, but I've enjoyed them both. Great author. ( )
1 vote jmoncton | Jun 3, 2013 |
While I quite enjoyed this novel, I spent much of it extremely frustrated with Gabriel. He's such a good and honest guy, saving the farm on multiple occasions, but he's so fixated on Bathsheba he can't take himself away from the vain and thoughtless woman. Bathsheba may have been beautiful, but no woman is worth the hell that Gabriel put himself through for her. ( )
  weeksc07 | May 26, 2013 |
Read a long time ago - remember really liking the style. ( )
  velvetink | Mar 31, 2013 |
Okay, so I didn't actually finish this novel, beyond skipping ahead to read the second to last chapter. Actually, I don't think I actually finished Tess of the D'Urbervilles either. I guess not finishing Thomas Hardy novels is becoming a habit.

Honestly, there was a lot to like about this novel. I liked Gabriel Oak. I love Hardy's use of crazy, creepy, mythic symbolism. I even liked the descriptions and the Shakespearian peasant characters. But halfway through it mostly just began to confuse and bore me, because the rest of Hardy's characters just confounded me.

The funny thing is that my feelings about the book were summed up in a Henry James quote on the back of the book, saying that the only believable element were the sheep. (Henry James's pastime seemed to be saying offensive things about English novelists. He also made derogatory comments about Dickens.) The person writing the copy on the back of the book quoted him in order to say that he was wrong, but nearing the end I started to agree with him. Almost all of the conversations involving Bathsheba just sounded so strange and artificial, and all of her motivations were elliptical and contradictory. I just didn't know what to do with her after a while. If I'd had more time, I would have happily finished it properly, but I don't feel like I missed very much. ( )
  raschneid | Mar 31, 2013 |
Five stars. When I die, bury my heart in Wessex.

As per usual, my complete review is on my blog, Book to the Future:

http://booktothefuture.com.au/?p=2167 ( )
  BooktotheFuture | Mar 30, 2013 |
I imagine that I am somewhat fortunate that I did not have to read this book while at school because I cannot imagine it having too much appeal to spotty teenagers. I had hoped that my much more mature self would have enjoyed it more but alas no.

Don't get me wrong the prose is beautifully written but the plot was plodding rather than racy and while I appreciate that the book was written before the age of TV and widespread travel, so it was incumbant on the author to describe the surroundings where the setting for the story but Hardy spends far too much time doing so for my taste. Every time that he described rural life around Weatherbury he placed a massive roadblock in the flow of the tale and I felt like shouting "will you shut up and just tell the tale".

What about the characters? The three male suitors are all beautifuuly rounded, Gabriel (the farmer fallen on hardtimes) is selfless in his pursuit both in word and deed, Boldwood (the repressed farmer) is selfish and smothering believing that it is right to marry Bathsheba, Troy (the philanderer) is more interested in the sport of the chase rather than the actual capture. Personally I cannot see how Bathsheba can be viewed as an early feminist, for me she is far too vain, self-absorbed and quite frankly little more than 'a silly little girl' who knows nothing of love and I found that I had little regard for her at all . The minor characters were amusing but for me there was much more comic rustic dialogue than was really neccessary.

The ending was predictable but whether or not it is a happy one is debatable. Gabriel obviously still loves Bathsheba but does she merely come to depend on rather than actually love him. When the staff are congratulating them on their marriage the phrase "Bathsheba smiled, for she never laughed readily now" made it seem little more than the business arrangement that Boldwood had suggested rather than anything else. But then maybe I'm just an gnarled old cynic. ( )
  PilgrimJess | Feb 21, 2013 |
This novel shows beauty in imperfection and mistakes like no other. Being independent means having the right to choose, and mistakes naturally will come with that right. The most important thing in life is learning how to deal with that errors. That is why i adore very much Thomas Hardy's Bathsheba and this story. The other characters are also uniquely humans. In the provincial setting that can bore certain people, i saw a great love that Thomas Hardy have inserted which is; the love of common life . That is my humble interpretation. ( )
  Nabilah | Oct 31, 2012 |
When my husband show me with the dictionary in one hand and the book in the other, asked me why I was bothering myself with that book, if it was so difficult to read. "Because, it's so good, it's worth it!" was my answer.I read it decades ago and I admit I didn't like it; I found it gloomy and depressing. But this time, I thoroughly enjoyed it: I loved Hardy's subtle humor and oh, so accute observations on human nature, the landscape descriptions, the twists of the tale and of course Gabriel Oak.The scene where Oak asks for employment from the woman that he had asked to marry not a few weeks ago, when they were equals, was heartbreaking. So few words, no more than 4 or five lines stripped of sentimental frillies, but you can feel Oak's feelings, loss of pride and despair as if you were him.But there were so many great scenes: Troy planting flowers in Fanny's grave at night, Boldwood's proof of obsession with Bathsheba coming to light, Gabriel and Bathsheba working together in the granary to save the corn from the rain while angry flashes rake the sky and many more. Through detailed descriptions of rural life in England during the late 1800s, the plot never loses its pace and there are enough twists and turns to keep the reader engrossed. The piquant remarks on human nature from Hardy, spice up the story and offer a touch of humor that saves it from being downright gloomy. Even when the greatest catastrophe occurs, Hardy's commendation on it, will usually have you ending the chapter with a slight smile on your face. I'm glad I gave this book another chance. Thanks BJ Rose for reminding me of it:) ( )
  faniP | Aug 24, 2012 |
This is the first Hardy novel I have read. I felt this really got going towards the latter third of the novel. The characters are interesting and interact well with the plot line and express all that is good and bad in humanity, as well as laying bare how different we are.
The obvious class lines are evident and quite easily analysed and they highlight the eligibility of potential marriages as the fate of each character is played out. The symbolism at the prosaic level is interesting and helps the reader to understand what Hardy is driving at in the narrative. The narrative voice was really interesting and I think Hardy does this well, inviting the audience to watch the unfolding of a simple yet accurate portrayal of class relationships in a pastoral setting. Enjoyable. ( )
  LesMiserables | Jul 20, 2012 |
I have long admired Hardy's poems. So much that as a teenager I even committed one to memory. This year I began to read Hardy's novels for the first time. The 1968 film version of "Far from the Madding Crowd" made it quickly to my top ten favorite movies of all time after I saw it on DVD. I was excited to relive the story of Bathsheba Everdene and her suitors by reading the novel. Well, there are often good reasons books are considered classics. Psychological types easily recognized today perform in a vivid setting saturated with nostalgia for a pre-industrial pastoral world. The strings of a florid Victorian pianoforte style are plucked from inside the instrument with an originality, congruency and wit that delighted me when I read his poetry. I've read that Thomas Hardy is considered somber, but his karmic sense of justice corresponds to my own. He admires and rewards mature virtues, persistence, patience self-control, practicality, modesty and, oh yeah, mature love and he does that in a way that makes virtue romantic. The sensual earthy texture of the movie is true to the novel. ( )
  mermind | Jun 21, 2012 |
Thomas Hardy makes his characters work for their rewards, as is apparent from my reading of his books. Far from the Madding Crowd is no exception.

In Far from the Madding Crowd, we meet Gabriel Oak, a successful farmer, a knowledgeable shepherd, and an unrequited lover of his next door neighbor. Tragedy strikes his herd, and he finds himself destitute, until he gains employment under the owner of some large farm with sheep. This owner, turns out, is the woman he once loved.

In this state, he watches the farmer next door and a handsome soldier vie for her attention, and nothing really goes well for anybody. Typical Hardy. In the end, some people get what they wanted, but perhaps not what they still want.

While Hardy’s writing can, at times, be dismally depressing, his characters seem real, and there’s plenty of humor in the stories to give them an overall bittersweet flavor to a discerning reader. For that reason, as well as for the fact that his writing can stand the test of time, and be completely readable nowadays as it probably was when it was originally written, I recommend this to readers of classic literature, as well as fine literature.

While it has no sparkly vampires, no wizarding teens, and no extraterrestrial visitors, it has real, honest people, and that gets the job done. ( )
  aethercowboy | Jun 8, 2012 |
Publié pour la première fois en français sous le titre Barbara, au Mercure de France en 1901, Far from the madding crowd parut en Angleterre en 1874, sans nom d'auteur tant le roman était osé. Une jeune femme Barbara Everderne (signalons que Bathsheba, l'héroïne, devient Barbara), belle et libre autant qu'on peut l'être en milieu rural à l'époque victorienne, est mariée à un militaire qui la torture. Un amoureux tue le mari. Et Barbara épousera l'homme qui l'aime depuis toujours, qu'elle avait d'abord éconduit, un berger. L'ouvrage est réédité en 1980, dans une traduction à peine modifiée, sous le titre Loin de la foule déchaînée. Thomas Hardy, auteur de Tess d'Uberville - dont Roman Polanski a tiré l'un de ses films les plus célèbres -, de Jude l'Obscur, du Maire de Casterbridge, répond à la sensibilité profonde des lecteurs modernes par le récit violent qu'il nous conte des désordres de l'amour et l'évocation d'une nature saisie dans sa nudité et sa vitalité bienfaisantes. Une sorte d'amoralisme tranquillement intrépide et ce qu'on pourrait appeler le sentiment cosmique de la vie (si humble soit-elle) assurent aux romans de Thomas Hardy, mort en 1928 à l'âge de quatre-vingt-huit ans, une jeunesse éternelle.
  PierreYvesMERCIER | Feb 19, 2012 |
Reading as part of The Hardy reading group.

It is about Bathesheba and the 3 men who love her - Gabriel Oak, Mr Boldwood and Sergeant Troy. each have their own qualities but it is Gabriel who loves her first and always. She rejects his initial marriage proposal because she does not love him.

She comes to the attention of Boldwood, who has the farm next to her, after she sends him a Valentine's card partly in jest. Boldwood has difficulty accepting that she does not love him either, but gives her up when she becomes fascinated by Sergeant Troy, the educated soldier - fey in attachment, apart from drink, gambling and women as a whole - who is more in love with another woman but marries Bathsheba more for her money than anything. She soon learns her mistake and learns to hate him, especially when he keeps asking for money to go gambling.

His possible death by drowning opens her up to be courted by Boldwood again, who continues to pressure her into committing to marry him, even when he knows she doesn't love him. A party at Christmas has a detrimental effect on all concerned.

Finally, Gabriel, her one true love, gets his girl.

This is the fourth of his books and the one I've enjoyed the most so far. It has a more consistent narrative, with fewer breaks, even though I believe this was also released in serial form.

The descriptions of nature get better with this book. I believe the description of salvaging the crops during the storm is considered to be a classic scene of the genre.

Boldwood is a disconcerting and not very nice character, poor of social graces, who falls in love with a woman he's never talked to and virtually bullies her into committing to an engagement that she doesnt want. (Everyone agrees in the end that he's more than a little mad).

Troy is a glittering distraction, who can also manipulate women (but in a different way), playing on Bathesheba's insecurities in order to make her marry him immediately (she goes to Bath to talk to him and he "suggests" that he'll have to give in to chasing after some other pretty girl if she doesnt marry him immediately, so she does).

Gabriel is solid and steady, watching her make mistakes but never letting her down, even though he still loves her.

As for Bathesheba? I dont know about her. I think she grows up during this book, finally marrying the man we all know she should have in the first place. She manages to take care of her uncle's farm, even though some people think she wont and does realise her mistake in marrying Troy, especially the way she did it. ( )
1 vote nordie | Feb 12, 2012 |
Bought 1980s, read for the Hardy Reading Project

A truly amazing book: rich, beautiful writing and a page turner. A big step forward in his writing, I felt. Proud Bathsheba thinks she can outwit love but is floored bu it; her suitors have very different fates from one another and the landscape, the stars and the animals provide a wonderful backdrop. The local farmhands are done with a lighter touch; still comical but not so laboured, somehow, and there are some beautiful scenes, for example Gabriel's observation of the movement of the stars. My favourite quotation was another bird-related one: "No Christmas robin detained by a window-pane ever pulsed as did Bathsheba now" (p. 247).

I studied this for O level but had forgotten the story, although certain rather random scenes and descriptions, such as Gabriel's face and the round hill he stands upon, were very familiar. Truly a privilege and a joy to re-read this book. ( )
1 vote LyzzyBee | Jan 7, 2012 |
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