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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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5,78365733 (3.93)347
  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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Classic Hardy. This book will is definitely a downer, but what did you expect. The portrayal of rural social life and its limitations and the struggles of individuals to find a deep and fulfilling life in an isolated place are beautifully portrayed. The ending is not as tragic as some of Hardy's work, but don't expect to be soothed or uplifted either. ( )
1 vote kaitanya64 | Jan 3, 2017 |
The "native" is Clym (Clement) Yeobright, who returns home to Egdon Heath, a small village on the English moorlands. He's grown disillusioned by a business career in Paris, and wants to become a teacher for the poor instead. But the love interests in this story go far beyond a simple triangle - it's more like a... a love-pentagram, I guess. Clym's cousin, Tamsin (Thomasin) was engaged to marry a local innkeeper named Damon Wildeve, who suffers from a wandering eye. In fact, Wildeve had something of an illicit relationship with Eustacia Vye, a dark-haired beauty who longs to escape the heath for a more adventurous life. The final piece of the story is Diggory Venn. Venn is a "reddleman," a traveling salesman of a red chalk used for marking sheep, and the hazard of his trade is that the chalk also colors his skin red. But in spite of making him look like a devil, Venn is actually a very decent guy, and the story opens with his return to Egdon as well, bringing the unfortunate Tamsin, whose wedding to Wildeve in a neighboring town didn't happen due to a mistake with the license - and, of course, Diggory had unsuccessfully proposed to Tamsin a year before.

So, just to sum it up: Diggory still carries a torch for Tamsin, who feels obligated and honor-bound to Wildeve, who is really in love with Eustacia, who sees Clym as a way of escape from a dreary and provincial life on the heath. Got that? Naturally, no one marries the right person. What a boring story that would've made!

As easy as it is to like the noble Venn (who reminded me of the solid Gabriel Oak in Far from the Madding crowd), Hardy depicts each of the characters in such a way that you can relate to and sympathize with all of them. Eustacia seems so beautiful and exotic (as well as aloof) to the villagers that some of the women believe she's a witch, and yet you can't help but *feel* her longing to escape for something more exciting. I even felt bad for the fickle Wildeve, who is kept from the woman he really loves by the social expectations and customs of the community. Even the setting of the fictional Egdon Heath, which is almost pagan-like with its bonfires and traditions, adds a layer of fascination and appeal to this ill-fated love-... um, pentagram.

And yet, as interesting as that all may sound it took me two tries to get through it, mainly because romances aren't really my thing. The tragic nature lends some interest but I mostly enjoyed the well-developed characters and the very human dilemmas they face which we sometimes see echoed in our own lives. Plus, there's Hardy's beautiful language which can bring a place alive with so many subtly-nuanced words that you'll want a dictionary at hand to truly understand and see the color in his story.

(Modified from my blog review http://bookworm-dad.blogspot.com/2014/10/return-of-romance.html) ( )
1 vote J.Green | Nov 22, 2016 |
I enjoyed this one tremendously, but I suspect that without Alan Rickman's beautiful reading it would have been a four star, rather than a five star book for me. I found the story very satisfying (though I could have done with rather less about the colors, moisture levels, and textures of Egdon Heath, even if it is, as both Wikipedia and a friend of mine have suggested, the main character, which I'm still not convinced of, btw), and am very pleased with Hardy for being willing to modify his usual doom and gloom ending as a concession to sentimental public taste! Eustacia Vye, superbly loathsome creature that she is, is a memorable character. ( )
1 vote meandmybooks | Jul 9, 2016 |
I liked it, but it was a trudge. There isn't enough rain on the cover! ( )
  jkdavies | Jun 14, 2016 |
There are things I loved about this book and things I strongly disliked. The good things: the description of the heath, which elevated it from simply the setting to character-like status; the character of Eustacia Vye; the serious issues portrayed such as love, loyalty, infidelity.

The not-so-good: some of the characters (Clym, Damon) were largely archetypes; Diggery is more of a vehicle to make things happen than a solidly-drawn person; the soap-opera nature of the plot and much of the dialogue.

Hardy is a good enough writer that I still liked the book overall and am glad I read it. ( )
1 vote LynnB | Jun 7, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (17 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Thomas Hardyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Dillon, DianeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dillon, LeoCover artistsecondary authorsome 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.
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(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)

» see all 20 descriptions

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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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