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The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy

The Return of the Native (1878)

by Thomas Hardy

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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5,56560773 (3.93)328
  1. 20
    Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy (Porua)
    Porua: I would like to recommend another Thomas Hardy novel, Far from the Madding Crowd. 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)

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Showing 1-5 of 60 (next | show all)
I did it! I persevered and finished off this book just 20 minutes before it was due to vanish from my Kobo in a virtual puff of smoke. After that slow start that had me despairing that anything was ever going to happen, things did pick up and the plot moved along fairly briskly. As the rating says, I'm glad I read it, and I would read more Hardy. In the future, though, I'll be more judicious about how many of those copious footnotes to chase down, as I found more often than not that rather than adding to my understanding of the book they simply impeded the flow of the narrative and made it seem more choppy and uneven than it probably is in actuality. Too many of them were about minute differences between the manuscript version used here (the 1878 serial publication) and later editions, which would have been immensely helpful if I were studying it and looking to make comparisons. As just a regular old reader, however, I found I didn't really give a dingdangdoodle.

And I still maintain that I read more than enough about that damned heath in the opening chapters to last me a lifetime. Good grief, no wonder everyone in this book is so freaking depressed. They must have had to listen to Hardy describe their homeland one too many times down the pub. ( )
  rosalita | May 12, 2016 |
I could hardly breathe while reading this novel. Written in 1878, this book is filled with drama and angst. I felt as though I were on a roller coaster, up one minute, down the next and at the end of the day, a happy ending! ( )
  Oodles | Feb 16, 2016 |
This novel is a poem to the ancient beauty of the heath. Hardy's descriptions of the way the light falls across it at different hours, the colours that emerge from it, and its ancient invariability and unwillingness to be tamed are beautiful. The characters who live, work, idle and scheme on the heath are among the best, in my opinion, that Hardy created. Eustacia Vye is a wonderful creation, spirited, intelligent, manipulative and yearning for something to lift her from the doldrums in which she perceives herself to be languishing. Clym Yeobright is an idealistic, naïve young man who turns from his life of wealth to seek a sense of usefulness back among his native people. Damon Wildeve is a scurrilous rake in the mould of Pride & Prejudice's Wickham. There is an element of caricature about them, but Hardy is too skilled a writer to bring forth pure exaggerations of human characteristics. Alongside the main personality traits writ large, Hardy includes subtle contradictions, light and shade, that make them seem modern at the same time as being romantic constructs. Hardy is good at acknowledging the restrictions of female existence in his era while at the same time recognising that women are more than society will permit them to be. It is the women in his books that compel. Given that there isn't a single Thomas Hardy novel that is 100% cheerful, it would be too much to expect things to work out well for these three. But the tragedy that befalls them is tempered by a satisfactory joy for the two other, quieter, central characters, Thomasin Yeobright and Diggory Venn. ( )
  missizicks | Jan 21, 2016 |
“Hurt so good
Come on baby, make it hurt so good”

- John Mellencamp

WUT? Well, reading Thomas Hardy novels always poses this kind of challenge. They hurt, and yet I keep coming back to him because they are indeed good and this kind of hurt is like a good exercise for your EQ. In term of language, I don’t think Hardy’s writing is particularly difficult to access. The more challenging aspects of his books are the initial meticulous scene setting and characters introduction chapters and, of course, the miserable situations that his characters get into.

When the feeling's gone and you can't go on It's tragedy”

Sorry, I just had a sudden attack of Beegeesitis. Anyway, I am always glad(ish) to be back in Hardyverse, better known as Wessex, a fictional region somewhere in the south of England. A lot of pastoral mayhem seems to take place here so it is probably not an ideal vacation destination (non-existence notwithstanding). In The Return of the Native Hardy again depicts what bad marriages can do. Clym Yeobright, the returning native of the novel’s title, marries the almost preternaturally beautiful Eustacia Vye who is very discontent with her rural surroundings. She yearns for the bright lights, big cities, iStores etc., preferably in Paris. However, she is not a femme fatale, she does her best to be a good, loving wife. Unfortunately her best is of a disastrously low standard and tragedy ensues.

Much of the tragedy stems from people being unable to speak their minds, to be honest, sincere and – most of all – forgiving. Where this novel really resonates with me is the relationship between Clym and his mother. They have a very close, loving relationship until Eustacia (inadvertently) comes between them. The mother, Mrs. Yeobright, has some very strong prejudices about people of ill repute and is very quick to pass judgment on them, her unyielding mentality eventually leads to her downfall. Eustacia’s inability to settle down, to compromise with her circumstances also leads to a lot of grief and much gnashing of teeth.

As usual Hardy’s characters are very believable and vivid, and it is interesting that there is no actual villain in this book. Some characters become antagonists of sort merely through very unwise decision making and impropriety. The hero of the book is also not Clym the protagonist, but a sincere, helpful and humble man called Diggory Venn who is a “reddleman” by profession. Basically, he goes around marking flocks of sheep with a red colour (a mineral called "reddle"). Not much call for such services these days I imagine, but it makes him a fair amount of money and also causes his entire body to be red coloured. It plays hell with his attempts at courting a certain young lady, but he eventually finds a way. According to Wikipedia Hardy had a tack on a happy ending for commercial purposes so not all the characters are down in the dumps by the end of the book. Left to his own devices he would rather depress the hell out of his readers.

Over all this is a typically depressing book by Thomas Hardy. Yet I really like it and recommend it for people who are not overly sensitive or those who are too insensitive and need to emote a little.

“Life's a piece of shit, when you look at it
Life's a laugh and death's a joke, it's true
You'll see its all a show, keep 'em laughin as you go
Just remember that the last laugh is on you”

- Monty Python

Well, after all that I don’t have any room left to quote an eloquent passage from this book. There are always plenty of those in a Hardy novel (so that’s hardly novel!). ( )
  apatt | Dec 26, 2015 |
An amazing work of art, this would be great to do as a tutored read I think (or follow along with a tutored read at any rate). I'll need to re-read it as there's so much I've missed. The sort of book that reminds me how little depth there is to many of the books I read. Audiobook read by Alan Rickman was initially distracting, because Alan Rickman was reading a book to me, but then I was so drawn into the tale (relationship drama! wedding mishaps! old loves! passionate new love! bonfires! the heath! death! love triangle?) that I stopped noticing him. A couple of chapters from the end when people started hurling themselves into the water, I started giggling with the thought that maybe all of the main characters were going to hurl themselves in and drown, and the rest of the novel would just be pleasant descriptions of the heath. ( )
  evilmoose | Dec 14, 2015 |
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» Add other authors (17 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Thomas Hardyprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lynd, SylviaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Taylor, WarnerIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Theroux, AlexanderIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Winterich, John T.Prefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Woodcock, GeorgeIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"To sorrow
I bade good morrow,
And thought to leave her far away behind;
But cheerly, cheerly,
She loves me dearly;
She is so constant to me, and so kind.
I would deceive her,
And so leave her,
But ah! she is so constant and so kind."
First words
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.
Human beings, in their generous endeavour to construct a hypothesis that shall not degrade a First Cause, have always hesitated to conceive a dominant power of lower moral quality than their own; and, even while they sit down and weep by the waters of Babylon, invent excuses for the oppression which prompts their tears.
As for Thomasin, I never expected much from her; and she has not disappointed me.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
The Return of the Native was first published in Belgravia magazine in 12 parts in 1878 and revised by Hardy in 1895 and 1912, when he produced a definitive Wessex Edition of all of his novels.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 037575718X, Paperback)

One of Thomas Hardy's most powerful works, The Return of the Native centers famously on Egdon Heath, the wild, haunted Wessex moor that D. H. Lawrence called "the real stuff of tragedy." The heath's changing face mirrors the fortunes of the farmers, inn-keepers, sons, mothers, and lovers who populate the novel. The "native" is Clym Yeobright, who comes home from a cosmopolitan life in Paris. He; his cousin Thomasin; her fiancé, Damon Wildeve; and the willful Eustacia Vye are the protagonists in a tale of doomed love, passion, alienation, and melancholy as Hardy brilliantly explores that theme so familiar throughout his fiction: the diabolical role of chance in determining the course of a life.

As Alexander Theroux asserts in his Introduction, Hardy was "committed to the deep expression of [nature's] ironic chaos and strange apathy, even hostility, toward man."

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:05 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

An enduring tale of love, desire, and the universal longing both to leave one's home and to return to it, this novel is one of Hardy's greatest and most affecting works. Hardy's passionately drawn characters and his vivid rendering of their valiant but ultimately ineffective struggle in destiny's web result in a masterpiece of melancholy brilliance.… (more)

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15 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140435182, 0141199741

Tantor Media

An edition of this book was published by Tantor Media.

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Recorded Books

An edition of this book was published by Recorded Books.

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