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Tess of the d'Urbervilles

Thomas Hardy

Book Overview: 

One of the greatest English tragic novels, Tess of the d'Ubervilles is the story of a “pure woman” who is victimized both by conventional morality and its antithesis. Born near Dorchester, Thomas Hardy set most of his stories in the region between Berkshire and Dorset in the fictional county of Wessex. He was a controversial writer whose work often showed the result of flouting the rigid Victorian moral code.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . . approached behind her, the footsteps of a man; and owing to the briskness of his advance he was close at her heels and had said "Good morning" before she had been long aware of his propinquity. He appeared to be an artisan of some sort, and carried a tin pot of red paint in his hand. He asked in a business-like manner if he should take her basket, which she permitted him to do, walking beside him.

"It is early to be astir this Sabbath morn!" he said cheerfully.

"Yes," said Tess.

"When most people are at rest from their week's work."

She also assented to this.

"Though I do more real work to-day than all the week besides."

"Do you?"

"All the week I work for the glory of man, and on Sunday for the glory of God. That's more real than the other—hey? I have a little to do here at this stile." The man turned, as he spoke, to an opening at the roadside leading into a pasture. "If you'll wait a moment," he added, "I shall not . . . Read More

Community Reviews

There's this Lars von Trier movie called Dancer in the Dark, starring Björk of all people. She plays a poor factory worker in rural America. She's going blind (which is not great when you work around heavy machinery), but she needs to save up enough money to pay for an eye operation for her son....more

HEADLINE: A bad guy who is fabulously talented in bed and a good guy who fumbles sex can complicate life for a girl.

I ought to have my head examined for undertaking a review of Tess of the d'Ubervilles, the next to the last of Thomas Hardy's novels. My purpose in considering the idea was that I m...more

there will probably be spoilers here. i will possibly rant. if you don't know what happens in tess, it is better not to read this review, although, frankly, to my way of thinking, hardy has so many superior novels, stories, poems, that you would be better served just avoiding this one and going o...more

This novel is really about timing, it effects us all, meet someone at the wrong time or go north instead of south, your life can end badly. Ordinary events, can change our destiny. Timing is everything... Tess Durbeyfield is born into a poor, rural, southern English family of eight, in the villag...more

Tess of the d'Urbervilles is not a feel-good book, which sharply sets it apart from the other 19th century novels about young women (think Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre, for instance).

No, it's sad and depressing to the point where it almost makes me angry. Because poor Tess, prone to making...more

From my blog:

This book was fantastic. It was bleak and heartbreaking, but fantastic. I'm not sure I've ever been so sad for a main character before. But wow, Hardy can write. I'm going to outline the plot, including the ending, so please note that there are SPOILERS AHEAD.

Tess Durbeyfield, a poor...more

I need to start by venting all the despair I felt reading Thomas Hardy's Tess of the D`Ubervilles. This tale is certainly not Pride or Prejudice or even Jane Eyre where the heroines have the prospect or the hope of happiness. What could a woman of Tess’s time and situation hope for? Contentment?...more

I finally read this classic for a book club recently, my own copy of the novel having languished on my shelves for too many years. I realized, after the book club meeting, that I had probably expected it to be a discussion-cum-appreciation session, Tess being after all a cornerstone in English li...more

I could have been perfectly happy with Alec. Then Angel broke my heart. I had trouble making out the words through my white-hot indignant anger. Then I cried and cried and the type ran and all those painful words pooled down at the bottom of the page before running out onto my lap. I've never tol...more

Thomas Hardy doesn’t need any introduction by me. An eminent writer from the nineteenth century, his work is an evidence of the social recounts, which added a more humanitarian perspective to the cause and whose other advocates included the writers like George Eliot, Thackeray and Dickens. Hardy...more

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