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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: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
12,229148207 (3.82)471
  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 [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 471 mentions

English (141)  French (4)  Italian (1)  German (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (148)
Showing 1-5 of 141 (next | show all)
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 |
I guess this is the best known of Hardy’s novels or perhaps the most liked. Most people feel very sympathetic towards Tess but I felt she lacked some nous, feeling the need to tell the ironically named Angel Clare of her rape by Alec.

To me, in fact, two entities were much more villainous than the moustachioed Alec. Angel Clare’s prudery is unforgivable, given that his premarital ‘lapse’ was sel-driven while Tess’ was imposed. And then Hardy introduces malevolent Fate whose presence is so strong in this novel that it’s practically a character. Hardy’s use of Fate is excessive from employing it to create suspense such as when Tess tells Clare that his not dancing with her earlier ‘is of no ill-omen for us now’ to making sure Tess’ note that she slips under Clare’s door goes under the carpet too or to simply setting a tone: ‘the night . . . was ready to swallow up the happiness of a thousand other people with as little disturbance or change of mien’.

More successful was his condemnation of Victorian morals, a bit ironic really when the person to shake free of these, Alec, is portrayed as the devil with his pitchfork while Angel Clare, the man who deserts his wife, is clearly meant to be at the other end of the spectrum. This diminishes the effectiveness of the parts where Hardy directly attacks society such as when Tess feel ashamed of herself ‘based on nothing more tangible than a sense of condemnation under an arbitrary law of society which had no foundation in Nature’.

If you can make a simply emotive response to this tale, perhaps it is more successful than a more critical look at it. I know Victorian novelists like to have an explicit voice in their novels and to draw moral conclusions. It’s just that in this novel I think Hardy only partially breaks free from the hypocrisies of his era. ( )
  evening | Aug 1, 2014 |
** spoiler alert ** Spoilers be nigh.

I read this in high school (sort of), which may explain why I hated it so passionately. I think the only thing I ever read in school that I didn't hate with a passion was Romeo and Juliet (and I was apparently very lucky about that – I understand school usually does a number on Shakespeare for people, too). I remember reading R&J upside-down in the living room armchair, enraptured by and a little drunk on the language. (The latter might have been partly because I was upside down, of course.) All I remember about Tess is the sick feeling of depression when I finished. (Which, given the circumstances, means that this was a remarkably poor choice of books for me at that moment in my life. Why did I never have a decent English teacher? Where was Robin Williams when I needed him?) I remember that, and had a vague presentiment that Tess would hang at the end of the book, but I was fixed on the idea that she must kill herself – somehow I completely forgot about the murder of Alec D'Urberville. And never have I been more delighted by a bloodstain in my life. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

I chose audio format, and I'm glad I did. Not only do I think the world of Simon Vance (whose voice for Angel Clare almost seduced me into forgetting how worthless he was and made me want to forgive him. Almost), but the dialect in print was very likely one reason I loathed this book lo! those many years ago. Vance's compassionate reading was very likely one big reason I did not loathe this book this time. His feminine voices aren't the cringe-worthy things many male narrators produce – his Tess, light and with just the right amount of accent for whatever circumstance, became Tess for me.

The men in this book remind me of Ricky's film about the plastic bag in American Beauty, without the beauty: a gust of wind, and the bag soars up; the air stills and the bag drops. A breath, and it skitters to one side; a draft, and it slides to the right. Every change in the wind sends these men in another direction, with another disposition – ecstatic, righteous, lust-filled, angry, depressed… sometimes several of these in one chapter. Alec D'Urberville seems to go from lusty jackass to proselytizing jackass in the blink of an eye, converting like an impressionable child based more on the demeanor of Parson Clare than on what he said – and then, of course, one look at Tess flips him right back again like a light switch: up = hellfire-and-brimstone preacher, down = creepy, creepy rapist. Angel Clare … Oh, where to begin? His treatment of Tess – and then his change of mind, and then his change back, and then back again, and his offhand devastation of Izz Huett … his flip-flopping makes your average politician look like a model of unswerving determination. The man up and sailed to Brazil on the strength of a travel agency sign. Brazil. It's not like going to Brighton.

There is one man in the tale who has a more consistent character: Tess's father. He's a lazy stupid drunk, and that never changes. He seizes on a straw in the wind to – in his and his wife's minds at least – lend countenance to his innate laziness. His concentration never wavers from the skellintons in the ancient tombs and all that is, he thinks, due him as the descendant of same. He's an ass, and worthless as a father, a husband, and a human being, and I hate him deeply. I think I hate him more than the other two, even.

The person I don't hate, and this shocks me, is Tess. Poor Tess. She didn't want to be put into the position her parents shoved her into – which resulted in her rape. She certainly didn't want anything to do with Alec D'Urberville, but unfortunately she fell asleep, poor little bint, and unfortunately he was a thorough-going bastard. Throughout the book she does the best she can to prevent situations – but it's an ineffectual best, and she is overruled and overpowered and left bleeding by the worthless men in her life, father, "cousin", beloved.

There were several aspects of her situation that I was surprised at, because it was as if Hardy smoothed the road for her a bit. I was surprised when the Durbeyfield neighbors did not shun Tess after the birth of the baby; I fully expected her to be spat on. They were not wholly forgiving (as witness the family's eviction after the father dies), but much better than I expected, to her face at least. I was shocked when the baby died – I fully expected him to be a growing millstone around her neck, much harder to get past than a history including a dead child. I was surprised once more when, Izz and Retty and Marian having all also fallen in love with Angel Clare, they decided that they did not and could not hate Tess for being the chosen one, and – whatever damage they did her accidentally – all remained her friends throughout. Even Clare's parents became more kindly disposed to her (which is made into a point against them, in a satirical way, but would have been a good thing for Tess if she could have taken advantage of it). It seems to me that a great many authors would have chosen to isolate Tess, make it their poor beleaguered lass against the world, saved only by the love of a weak man who then also turns away from her; that Hardy chose a more realistic route is a huge point in his favor.

There are times when it's nice to have a faulty memory. I re-read this book as if it were the first time, and I'm glad of it – I had no idea how everything would turn out, and I was freed to hope for the best even while I (with that one partial memory in mind) feared the worst: I did know it was not a happily-ever-after book, but the details were drowned in the past. The language, while slightly purple in places, was beautiful; the story genuinely moved me. I could not be more amazed. ( )
  Stewartry | Jul 13, 2014 |
I feel like this was almost two different books. I was really enjoying the story, sympathising with Tess, and admiring the author's progressive attitudes, when at the very end the whole thing derailed. Before the ending, I would have given the book a 3 star rating. It was engaging, had some complex characters, and really dealt with the idea of the fallen woman in an amazing way. But then....

For me, the story fell apart when Angel returned and found Tess living with the cruel Alec. That was not how I'd imagined the story would go! I'd hoped Alec could be redeemed, and be a genuinely good friend to Tess, if not a lover. That when Angel returned Tess would cast him off, give him a roaring lecture for being such an idiotic hypocrite. His crimes against Tess were far worse than Alec's in my opinion. The majority of this novel was thoughtful and innovative, but the ending read as a trashy, old timey, conservative, romance.
( )
  Sweet_Serenity | May 20, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 141 (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
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)].
Dedication
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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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