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Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
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Tess of the d'Urbervilles (1891)

by Thomas Hardy

Other authors: Tim Horton (Editor), Shirley Joshua (Editor)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
12,458150195 (3.82)482
  1. 60
    Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy (alaudacorax)
    alaudacorax: At the moment, I think this is the finest of Hardy's novels - if you've read and liked any of the others I'm sure you'll like this. If you've been turned-off by the grimness of some of his others - Tess ..., for instance - you might well find this more palatable.… (more)
  2. 51
    Middlemarch (1/2) by George Eliot (readerbabe1984)
  3. 41
    Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (roby72)
  4. 30
    Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy (Booksloth)
  5. 30
    Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe (roby72)
  6. 10
    The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James (roby72)
  7. 21
    Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (Johanna11)
    Johanna11: Both books write about people with expectations for their future, both are very well written at the end of the nineteenth century.
  8. 11
    The Quarry Wood by Nan Shepherd (edwinbcn)
    edwinbcn: Written by a woman, "The Quarry Wood" explores the awakening sexuality and awareness of the young Martha. More outspoken than Thomas Hardy, but not yet as free as D.H. Lawrence.
  9. 01
    Adam Bede by George Eliot (Heather39)
    Heather39: Both books tell the story of a young, working class woman who enters into a relationship with a gentleman, eventually to her downfall.
  10. 13
    Muriel's Wedding [1994 film] by P. J. Hogan (lucyknows)
    lucyknows: Muriel's Wedding could be paired with Tess of the D'Urbervilles as well as several other novels, such as, My Brilliant Career by Miles Franklin, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and even with Shakespeare's play Much Ado About Nothing
  11. 02
    Villette by Charlotte Brontë (allenmichie)
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» See also 482 mentions

English (143)  French (4)  Italian (1)  German (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (150)
Showing 1-5 of 143 (next | show all)
Tess of the D’Ubervilles is a beautiful, haunting masterpiece.

When Tess’s family fall on hard times, Tess is forced to go and see family she has never heard of before – the well off D’Ubervilles. On arriving she is met with Alec D’Uberville, the man who will be her downfall. After losing her child to illness, Tess receives employment as a milkmaid, and falls in love with Angel Clare, but will Tess be able to tell him about the dark past that she has so long kept secret? And if the truth is revealed, will Angel Clare still feel the same way?

I absolutely loved this book. I’m actually sad that I haven’t read it before. I read if for classes, but so many of my classmates had read it before, and I envied being able to read it without studying it. It’s such a beautiful book with such an immense plot. I kept having to put it down and come back to it, purely so I could give myself time to process what I’d read. Hardy has that ability to describe something in detail, pages covering the same thing, but it’s never repetitious and it’s never boring.

Tess of the D’Ubervilles is famous for being scandalous and shocking when it was first published, and I can see why. Though not really shocking to us now, I can imagine the horror at a story of women with a child out of marriage, and the idea of concealing that child from her suitor. Hardy certainly has a lot to say about social conventions and the way women were treated at that time.

I think Tess is a really fascinating character, she’s strong willed, stubborn and utterly loyal. She makes lots of mistakes throughout the story – and more often than not she pays the price for them. Her story is an immensely sad one. She is a survivor, continuing on even when her life seems the most hopeless.

No matter what I write about Tess of the D’Ubervilles, this review will be woefully understating how wonderful this novel is (but that’s not going to stop me trying!) The language in the novel is beautiful and poetic, and I loved the descriptions of nature. Tess is closely linked to nature throughout the plot – something I found particularly interesting. She is seen as almost part of nature herself, a pure, earthy country girl.

It’s a very bleak and depressing story, but it is definitely worth reading. This was my first outing in the novels of Thomas Hardy – although I am told The Mayor of Casterbridge is by far his best novel, I really enjoyed Tess of the D’Ubervilles and all its wonderful comments on society. ( )
  ColeReadsBooks | May 24, 2015 |
Rarely have I ever had such a visceral reaction to a book. I have read a few other Hardy novels and so at this point I expect tragedy. But this one still blew me away. It broke my heart in so many ways, but Hardy’s writing made the whole experience oddly beautiful, despite the inevitable disaster that you know if coming.

The brilliance of his writing is just breathtaking. The scenes he creates are incredibly beautiful. Alec is such a brilliant villain because of the very fact that he is so relatable to different men. As Hardy himself says, Tess’ own male ancestors probably did the same thing to peasant girls. It's so horrifying and common at the same time and Alec has no real understanding that what he's doing is wrong. He knows what he wants he decides he's going to take it. There's no consideration for anything else.

Tess’ family is poor, but they discover they are descendants of a wealthy local family. She is sent to befriend the family and see if they can improve her own family’s situation. She meets Alec D'Urbervilles and soon her life is changed forever. I can’t say too much more without spoilers, except that it’s a powerful book, but not a cheery one.

**SPOILERS**
I’ve never hated a character as much as I hated Alec. He is a rapist, a manipulator, and worst of all, he honestly doesn’t think he’s done much wrong in the first half of the novel. At one point Alec says something about how Tess shouldn’t have worn a certain dress and bonnet because it made her too pretty. The “you were asking for it” mentality was present even back then when dress was far more modest. It was so frustrating and infuriating. He manipulated every situation, forcing her to be alone with him, to rely on him for help, etc.

His condescending nicknames made my skin crawl. When he calls her “Tessie” or “my little pretty” it made me nauseous because she was shrinking away from him and begging him quietly to stop touching her. She said again and again that she did not love him and she was scared of him. She never feels comfortable with him. From their very first interaction, as he makes her eat strawberries from his hand, she is uncomfortable and wants to go home immediately. There was no infatuation only a feeling in her gut that he was not someone to be trusted.

On top of that, Angel’s absurd double standard for his actions and her actions was infuriating. The worst part is that both men, the “good” one and the “bad” one share the same mentality about the situation. Both blame Tess but never themselves. The same attitude is around today, even though women have many more options, they are often shamed when they are sexually assaulted.

The book is split into different phases and the second one begins after the infamous event. Tess is so broken; she's not even scared of him anymore because he's already done the worst to her that he could possibly do. She's resigned to her fate and full of sorrow. I kept thinking about how many other women over hundreds of years have gone through the same thing and are just completely broken afterwards and no one understands why. The man took something from her that she did not want to give and society treats it as if he didn't really do anything wrong. They justify it and say things like, maybe she gave off the wrong signals or put herself in a bad situation. It's just horrible.

**SPOILERS OVER**

BOTTOM LINE: This is not a cheerful book. Every time Tess’ situation improves, heartache is just around the corner. But Hardy deals with it in such a raw and personal way that it is relevant even a century later. His writing transcends the subject matter and I’ve learned that I’ll read whatever he’s written.
** My Penguin Clothbound Classic edition discusses the different versions of the novel that were released. The original release presented a much harsher version of Hardy. Apparently he toned it down and made him more appealing in later versions, which is interesting.

“‘I shouldn’t mind learning why the sun do shine on the just and the unjust alike,’ she answered with a slight quaver in her voice. ‘But that’s what books will not tell me.’”

“The beauty or ugliness of a character lay not only in its achievements, but in its aims and impulses; its true history lay, not among things done, but among things willed.” ( )
3 vote bookworm12 | Apr 24, 2015 |
I read this in college. I remember liking it pretty well at the time, but it did not make me a fan of Thomas Hardy, and since then my opinion of him--and especially his depiction of women--has soured considerably. ( )
  sturlington | Feb 25, 2015 |
This was my fourth Hardy work, and while enjoyable, was my least favorite. Hardy is a great story teller- he conveys a sense of rural English life that few other can match. In addition, Hardy effectively includes just enough characters and detail to move the plot forward without distracting the reader with unnecessary information.

Unfortunately, unlike his other books, I felt Hardy's portrayal of his main characters was far too stereotypical and shallow. Tess, in particular, as the abused, love struck and weak minded maiden was so over the top that I found it difficult to sympathize with her situation.

On a good note, Hardy's ending was excellent.

Recommended, but if your time is limited I suggest reading The Mayor of Casterbridge, which I consider his finest work. ( )
  la2bkk | Dec 7, 2014 |
I've been feeling pinched this summer (financially), so I downloaded some free classics.
Yesterday I finished Thomas Hardy's Tess of the d'Ubervilles.

Early on, I found the wealth of description tried my patience, but since the pictures he wrote were often unique and witty, I persevered, occasionally wondering if I'd made a bad choice to reread the novel-- the suspense didn't hold me because I remembered the ending, which is brilliant, by the way.

Then I notice a theme that drives the novel, which changed my whole outlook. After all, suspense isn't everything.

Here's my attempt to explain the theme:

Tess, in her simplicity and natural innocence, comes from a culture still rooted in an earlier time, when the Christian story and its literal interpretations hadn't yet been called into question by the Enlightenment with its reliance on reason.

Angel Clare, her beloved, is a product of the Victorian era. He's the son of a pastor who approaches the Bible from an intellectual attitude that employs reason but only insofar as it works on behalf of the faith. Angel, even while seeing through the flaw in his father's reasoning, adopts a similarly flawed worldview. He won't believe in Christ or the church, but he firmly accepts the church's morality.

About a dozen years before Tess appeared, Dostoyevski's The Brothers Karamazov presented the notion that without God, all things are lawful. Angel would disagree with this proposition and rationalize that the morals by which he lives are based upon reason rather than upon Christianity. And his mistakenly rigid devotion to the moral positions of churchgoing society becomes the recipe for disaster.

Now here's why this intrigues me:

I'm looking at the past hundred plus years since the publication of Tess and The Brothers Karamazov as a drama Hardy's novel prophesies, in which our culture attempts to sort out the implications of its morality being grounded in a story it either doubts, ignores, or uses to justify its actions.

I like books that offer stuff to think about, in addition to a compelling story. Tess is a mighty fine book.
  kenkuhlken | Aug 2, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 143 (next | show all)
Daring in its treatment of conventional ideas, pathetic in its sadness, and profoundly stirring by its tragic power. The very title, "Tess of the D'Urbervilles: A Pure Woman", is a challenge to convention.
 

» Add other authors (99 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Thomas Hardyprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Horton, TimEditorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Joshua, ShirleyEditorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Alvarez, A.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cosham, RalphNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dolin, TimEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Firth, PeterNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Higonnet, Margaret R.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Irwin, MichaelIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Skilton, DavidEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stubbs, ImogenNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thorne, StephenNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
'...Poor wounded name! My bosom as a bed | Shall lodge thee.', - W. Shakespeare [Two Gentlemen of Verona, Act 1, Scene 2, 111/12] & should read: 'Poor wounded name: My bosom as a bed | Shall lodge thee...', [Riverside Shakespeare (1997)].
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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.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
In order to step out of family poverty, Tess attempts to find her ancient relations, the d'Urbervilles. Unfortunately, she is taken advantage of by a man which causes her even more strife throughout the rest of her life. She is forced into a moral delimma when she truly falls in love with another man due to her previous circumstances. More conflicted than ever, Tess is able to eventually become a strong woman who makes choices for herself instead of what the society tells her is right. This book was some what a hard book for me to get through because some parts of it seem very dry, but overall the story line is interesting.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0141439599, Paperback)

The chance discovery by a young peasant woman that she is a descendant of the noble family of d'Urbervilles is to change the course of her life. Tess Durbeyfield leaves home on the first of her fateful journeys, and meets the ruthless Alec d'Urberville. Thomas Hardy's impassioned story tells of hope and disappointment, rejection and enduring love.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:43:18 -0400)

(see all 9 descriptions)

"When Tess Durbeyfield is driven by family poverty to claim kinship with the wealthy D'Urbervilles and seek a portion of their family fortune, meeting her 'cousin' Alec proves to be her downfall. A very different man, Angel Clare, seems to offer her love and salvation, but Tess must choose whether to reveal her past or remain silent in the hope of a peaceful future. With its sensitive depiction of the wronged Tess and powerful criticism of social convention, Tess of the D'Urbervilles is one of the most moving and poetic of Hardy's novels. Based on the three-volume first edition that shocked readers when first published in 1891, this edition includes as appendices: Hardy's Prefaces, the Landscapes of Tess, episodes originally censored from the Graphic periodical version and a selection of the Graphic illustrations."--Back cover.… (more)

» see all 43 descriptions

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