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Tess of the D'Urbervilles, a Pure Women Faithfully Presented

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Tess of the D'Urbervilles, a Pure Women Faithfully Presented [Hardcover] [Jan 01, 1956] Thomas Hardy; Agnes Miller Parker and Robert Cantwell


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Tess of the D'Urbervilles, a Pure Women Faithfully Presented [Hardcover] [Jan 01, 1956] Thomas Hardy; Agnes Miller Parker and Robert Cantwell

30 review for Tess of the D'Urbervilles, a Pure Women Faithfully Presented

  1. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

    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 might perhaps persuade one other person to read this novel who might not otherwise. I am all about service to my fellow man. However, there are strange aspects of this novel that when discussed in remove 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 might perhaps persuade one other person to read this novel who might not otherwise. I am all about service to my fellow man. However, there are strange aspects of this novel that when discussed in remove from the novel itself can make it sound off-putting. I will mention a few of those without emphasizing them. They involve weird twists in the plot handed us through the vehicle of some strange scenes. On the other hand I do not wish simply to offer diamond-like passages from this novel, although that is tempting. But let us take a shot here. Tess is the eldest daughter in a poor family in 19th century England. The novel follows events in her life from the time she is sixteen until she is approximately 21, let us say. There are a multitude of detailed plot outlines of this novel to be found elsewhere on line. The only valuable supplement to those that I can offer is to say bluntly what those plot outlines say in such a roundabout way that it loses impact or can be missed entirely. Tess is one hot looking sixteen-year-old female human being. It is out of the fact that Tess is one hot looking sixteen-year-old that all the action of this novel arises. At the time of her first seduction, or rape, she is described as one who has a "coarse pattern" laid over her "beautiful feminine tissue." So in picturing her, we must picture her as something much more than simply a pretty young girl, although she is certainly that. She is a pretty young girl with that look about her that drives men wild—that look about her being something rarely encountered in a girl so young. Some part of that look about her derives from her unity with nature—or should we say “Nature” with a capital “N” since we are after all talking about a Thomas Hardy novel? I would rather put it this way. She is earthy. When Hardy writes about her when she is in relatively unspoiled natural surroundings, it is apparent that she herself is very much at home in and a natural part of those surroundings. Hardy places our hot looking sixteen-year-old girl in an environment with some problems. It is an environment wherein the Victorian morals of society are so completely at odds with the nature of men and women generally, and particularly in the realm of sex. Second, she inhabits a rural area of England where the quality of life is slowly deteriorating. Hardy does not impose upon us with some heavy-handed social commentary at all. Rather, this social commentary is portrayed seamlessly along with the characters and the action. As an example, there is a great contrast between the portrayal of Tess's life as a milkmaid early in the novel, which is idyllic and almost lyrically described, and her life later in hard labor on a farm, the slave of a threshing machine. You must notice stuff like this if you are going to do big time literature. But let me get back to the sex because I know that is what probably piqued your interest. For women heterosexual sex requires men, as much as women may at times regret this. Hardy supplies the men here in the form of two male knotheads named Alec and Angel. She is raped by the wealthy Alec who drugged her with a delicious strawberry, and has his child, which immediately dies. She falls in love with the decent Angel who lacks wits but is under the mistaken impression that he has them in spades. She marries Angel, only to be abandoned by him when he finds out about her past. She becomes Alec's mistress--Alec now, ala Roman Polanski, regrets the strawberry drugging and the rape--partly for economic reasons. A girl's gotta eat. The other part of her reasons are addressed below. A repentant Angel flies back to her, a tad late to the dance as usual, only after she has just murdered Alec. The two of them end up at Stonehenge of all places, where she is apprehended after the police let her complete a nap. There are a lot of puzzling sleep episodes in this novel. Again, you must notice stuff like that if you are going to do big time literature. I think that we can safely conclude that Alec, the "bad guy," is sexually skillful in the sack. He knows what he is doing with a woman and likes to do it a lot. The "good guy," Angel, fumbles in this area. I mean, the "good guy," Angel, chooses to sleep on the couch during his wedding night rather than have sex with one of the hottest young women in the country. Why? Because he finds out that she has had sex before. Whew! This is the kind of thing that can complicate life for a girl, I understand. And now, thanks to this novel, I do understand. I wanted to kick both of those guys' asses at one point or another, but of course I was feeling a little paternal about this poor hot looking sixteen-year-old girl. I refer to them as knotheads, but both do evolve and develop during the course of the novel in what we could simplistically call a favorable direction. The problem—and it is this problem that gives us our story—is that neither of them evolves and develops quickly enough to remedy the horrendous impact their earlier conduct has had on poor Tess and save her. Angel finally comes to the realization that it does not make any difference if she has previously had sex with both the football team and the marching band. She is nonetheless a quality human being whom that nitwit should feel undeservedly blessed to have as a wife. I say “poor Tess,” but. . . . Tess is not passive. She is a girl of action and decision. She makes choices. She acts on those choices. We readers like Tess immensely. It is just that we as readers are continually frustrated with the choices she makes. She is not very old. So this is natural. However, part of the great entertainment afforded by this novel for the reader is contemplating what her alternative choices were and whether those might have resulted in any better an outcome for her. After great thought, insofar as I do great thought, I have concluded that none of those other choices would have. My personal view is that she was doomed from the outset by the mere fact that she was one hot looking sixteen-year-old female human being in a society where that made for nothing but trouble. The tragedy is that in 21st Century America, this could have made her queen of the hop. I might be wrong. You will have fun coming to your own conclusions. I had given a spoiler alert at the beginning, but the facts of the plot that I set out above are not really spoilers. It is not at all that unusual a 19th Century plot, other than the conclusion is more grim than usual and the sex is more prominently on display in that Alec and Tess actually do have a lot of sex, as in intercourse and all the accompanying accoutrements presumably. At least Alec was no Bill Clinton. The great pleasure in reading this story is Hardy's manner of telling it even if you know what is going to happen. Anyone who knows anything about Hardy will know that Tess is not going to come to a good end anyway. There you go. That is the best I can do. I urge you not to miss out on this novel. And please do not respond by telling me that you saw the PBS production. Give me a break. This is a great novel, to be enjoyed as a novel.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Nataliya

    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 choice that are invariably the worst for her, just cannot catch a break. Because it's like she has majorly pissed off some higher power(s) that be and they are taking revenge, giving her the most rotten 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 choice that are invariably the worst for her, just cannot catch a break. Because it's like she has majorly pissed off some higher power(s) that be and they are taking revenge, giving her the most rotten luck. Because Tess seems to have resigned herself to a future with few silver linings, having learned to view herself through the cruel prism of social conventions. Because it lacks any happiness and warm fuzzies that would make you want to reread this book while curled up on the couch with a cup of hot chocolate on a cold rainy day¹.¹ This lack of any feel-good warm fuzzies and Hardy's relentless destruction of anything that can make Tess' life tolerable (and, of course, combined with the fact that this book apparently is on the required reading list for many high-schoolers - and we all know how intolerable the books we have been coerced to read as teens can appear) may be at least partially responsible for why so many of my GR friends dislike it - the same people who apparently have enjoyed other 19th century novels about young women. And yet I liked it. Maybe because I read it without anyone's coercion, without being forced to see the symbolism or make analyses of the themes and all that bullshit that high school students have to put up with during the endless hours of English classes. "Never in her life – she could swear it from the bottom of her soul – had she ever intended to do wrong; yet these hard judgments had come. Whatever her sins, they were not sins of intention, but of inadvertence, and why should she have been punished so persistently." Because, all symbolism aside (blah-blah, Tess = Nature destroyed by civilization and all that), Hardy seems to be doing a pretty good job showing the stupidity of rigid morals applied to women in Victorian England - the morals and attitudes that made women inferior and subservient to men. Because quite a few things are wrong when a rapist offering to marry his victim is considered a good resolution to the 'situation' as he must be her 'real' husband because he was the first to claim her vagina with his penis, regardless of whether she wanted him then or wants him now. Because something is wrong when a woman becomes 'damaged goods' in the eyes of the society because of someone else's action - actually, when, regardless of the action, her worth is based on the state of intactness of her hymen¹.¹ That attitude did not die with Victorian era, of course. It is still perpetuated and fed to the young members of the society. Think, for instance, of all the young adult heroines that are 'pure' by the virtue of their virginity while there always (or almost always) appears to be an evil side character - a 'slut' who dares to be sexually experienced. Guess who is invariably preferred by all the romantic interests? That's right. 'Sluts' are put in their place pretty quickly. Ugh. Hardy does a great job portraying unhealthy relationships in this book without attempting to convince the reader that those are actually normal. I will not go into details about the unhealthiness of Tess' relationship with her rapist - that's self-evident. But her doomed relationship with Angel Clare is also painted as unhealthy and dangerous - and not alluringly dangerous, like many books are prone to depict such situations. Tess' feelings for him are blinding and obsessive - and the danger of those are clearly shown, as she is ready to lose herself in him and even die for his sake. Angel's feelings are treated equally harshly as instead of respecting and admiring Tess for the person she is he idolizes what he *thinks* she is, he creates an idea of her being who he wants her to be and in that remains completely blind to who she actually is. Hardy's portrayal of that ill-fated relationship definitely does not glamorize the unhealthy aspects of it, and I applaud him for it. . I did enjoy reading a book about a 19th century young woman who does not belong to the privileged class, and whose ideas of poverty are not simply living in a smaller cottage and not being able to attend fancy balls. I liked the idea of a woman who is capable of work and does not shy away from it; I loved how much Hardy tried to emphasize that the stereotypes of peasants as faceless mass of idiots were not true, and how he stayed away from glamorizing money and pedigree. Tess' supposed noble descent brings her nothing but pain, after all. "She might have seen that what had bowed her head so profoundly - the thought of the world's concern at her situation - was founded on illusion. She was not an existence, an experience, a passion, a structure of sensations, to anybody but herself. To all humankind besides, Tess was only a passing thought." Overall I enjoyed this book, but I'm not sure I will ever reread it, knowing now the turn the events in Tess' life take. For my pleasure reads I will stick with the happily-ever-after of Lizzy Bennet, thank you very much. But meanwhile I'll be appreciating that Hardy had the perseverance to write a non-feel-good story of bad things happening to good people, with lessons we can learn from it even now. 3.75 stars - rounding up to 4.

  3. 5 out of 5

    karen

    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 on to one of the great ones like jude or mayor of casterbridge instead. but there is something sneaking up in me - a bubblingly vague feeling of well-wishing for poor doomed tess, that makes me think i mi 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 on to one of the great ones like jude or mayor of casterbridge instead. but there is something sneaking up in me - a bubblingly vague feeling of well-wishing for poor doomed tess, that makes me think i might convince myself of this novel's adequacy, if not greatness, by the end of the review. there - that should serve as enough blathering to hide any actual spoilers from the feed. who knew when i woke up this morning that i would be writing a review of my least favorite thomas hardy novels? no one. but i find myself thinking of this book a lot, lately. having just come off another retail christmas at the book factory, and having had my readers' advisory skills put to the test in such a major way once more, i feel like i should say something about this book. because i am so conflicted about it, and every time i am called upon to suggest a "classic" or "a sad book," i find myself automatically drawn to hardy, and i always say the same thing, "except for tess." i never suggest tess. and it is infuriating because i know for a fact that tess was hardy's favorite female character. and i love hardy; i trust him. but, lord WHAT DOES HE SEE IN HER?? tess is loyal, and passionate, but utterly hopeless. she makes all the wrong decisions, but she just keeps barreling along, blithely. well, not blithely. more like trudging along determinedly. hardy's whole philosophy, in his books, is that you make a mistake and you never ever stop paying for it. but it is hard to see, in this book, just which mistake is the origin of the misery.if anything, the mistake is not tess' own, but her father's, in getting too drunk to drive, putting tess in the position of accidentally killing their horse as she takes the reins. (ooh, a pun!) this is of course, shades of mayor of casterbridge. drinking causes all sorts of accidents. is the accident that of overreaching one's situation in life? can't be, because the fake d'urberville's are doing just fine with their purchased title, while the "real" ones are living in poverty. is the mistake getting raped? probably. not that it's her fault, obviously, but damn, girl - learn to recognize those wolves. but no - obviously someone in tess' position is not going to recognize a risk when she sees one. sweet dummy. sweet beloved-by-her-creator dummy. i can only assume that in this book, that is meant to be the origin. because everything that happens after that is just one more kick in the balls. a ruined reputation, a dead child, falling for a man named angel freaking clare (i mean, honestly - this should really have been another signal - no man named angel clare is ever going to be open-minded, even if he has his own secrets, hypocritical bastard). ugh, and then the rest of it - oh, god - that damned rug! what a terrible way to communicate sensitive information, tess! that is vintage hardy, though, and that plot development i am totally okay with. in fact, i think it is genius. but then - oh god - redemption for an unsavory character and illness and death and forgiveness TOO LATE and murder and then THE WORST ENDING OF ALL TIME! seriously? stonehenge? you can't think of a subtler location than that for your situation? oh, hardy, you failed me there. and the ending is what ruins the book for me, at the end of the day. because i am going through this bit by bit now, in writing this review, and that is pretty much my biggest gripe. tess as a character is fine - she wouldn't be my favorite in all of literature, but she makes sense, as someone in her position. she's no bathsheba everdene, who is obviously hardy's most interesting and complicated female character, but she means well, and she is definitely a survivor, but more of the limping variety than the warrior kind. and the series of misfortunes is also fine. unlikely, and depressing, but fine. nowhere near as perfectly intricate as mayor, with its amaaaazing resolution, but it is tidy and appropriate, all told. yup. now that i have actually sat down with this, it is simply the presence of stonehenge that so grates upon me. fuck stonehenge and your sacrificial maidens. it clangs, as an ending. it is like someone letting loose a wombat during a funeral. thomas hardy isn't supposed to be silly, and this ending it unarguably silly. so, there it is, mes amis - tess redeemed through the power of review-writing. but no amount of review-writing will ever get me to accept stonehenge. stupid stonehenge. come to my blog!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Bookdragon Sean

    Dear, Tess of the D’Urbervilles I’m writing you this letter because you pissed me off. I’m angry, Tess. I’ve got a lot to say to you, and I want you to hear it. I will warn you though; I’m not holding anything back. We’re going to talk about everything, everything that happens in your life from beginning to end. How could you be so silly? How could you be so hapless and so helpless? Why do you seem to be an ill-fated walking disaster of doom trodden woe? Why, oh why, did you never learn anything? Dear, Tess of the D’Urbervilles I’m writing you this letter because you pissed me off. I’m angry, Tess. I’ve got a lot to say to you, and I want you to hear it. I will warn you though; I’m not holding anything back. We’re going to talk about everything, everything that happens in your life from beginning to end. How could you be so silly? How could you be so hapless and so helpless? Why do you seem to be an ill-fated walking disaster of doom trodden woe? Why, oh why, did you never learn anything? Tess you’re an absolute idiot. It’s okay. I understand. You were young and inexperienced in the beginning. But why were you still by the end? Your only act of courage was nothing but pure stupidity. It could only end one way after that. How could you not see Alec’s wolfish nature in the beginning? The man forced fed you fruit; he made you part your lips whilst he shoved his all too suggestive strawberry in your mouth. How could you not see the nature of such an imposing act? Read over it Tess. See it from my point of view: "They are already here." D'Urberville began gathering specimens of the fruit for her, handing them back to her as he stooped; and, presently, selecting a specially fine product of the "British Queen" variety, he stood up and held it by the stem to her mouth. "No--no!" she said quickly, putting her fingers between his hand and her lips. "I would rather take it in my own hand." "Nonsense!" he insisted; and in a slight distress she parted her lips and took it in. How could you not see his motives? I understand that your mother didn’t teach you anything. Your parents threw you into the world and let you bare their burdens of responsibility. I understand that was a large task. But, still, how can you not see that this man was sniffing round you and only after one thing? Why didn’t you run? Why didn’t you get as far away as possible form such an insincere degenerate cur as Alec D’Urberville? After that, Tess, I just couldn’t believe in your character. I cannot believe that someone could possibly be as stupid as you Tess. I’m sorry Tess, but you were just badly written. You just seemed a little bit too fatalistic. It’s like you’d given up on life before you’d even experienced it. You just went from disaster to disaster without realising that most men of your time were pigs. You didn’t learn anything; it’s like you were born with a pre-ordained destiny to take shit from everybody and then die. You just trudged through muck, and then went looking for more afterwards. If you’re characterisation is emblematic of Victorian womanhood, then every Victorian woman has been terrible insulted. I understand that the problems you faced were real. You came across real injustice, Tess. There’s no denying that. What Alec did to you was pure evil. What Angel did you was nothing short of neglect. One rule for men and another for women, eh Tess. You really experienced misogyny and injustice. I know, and I feel sorry for you, but Tess you were just so unbelievably weak. Why did you go running back to Angel after what he did to you? He clearly didn't love you. Why did you wait for him for so long and just accept the negligence that he subjected you to. How could you let yourself down like that? You should have gone on your own and become your own woman; you should have become empowered rather than crawling back to the bastards that mistreated you. Your actions made no sense. Your emotions and love changed with the wind. I blame your creator Tess; I don’t think he knew quite what he wanted when he wrote you. He made a character who was a survivor with a will to keep trudging through life’s shit, but she kept going back to that shit again, and again. Rather than make you hopeless, he should have had you learn from the evils of the world, and become a woman who knew how to deal with it. Then there’s the ending of your story, Tess. Why Stonehenge? Why did you run there of all places. Why not go to the train station? Why did you let yourself be led along by that prat Angel Clare one more time? Ahh…Tess, why did you waste your life? The men you met were assholes; your family were assholes too, so why didn’t you just get away from it all? Your most tragic mistake Tess, and your doom, was not realising what was inside you. Tess, only if you realised, only if the man who wrote you realised, that women don’t need to rely on men; then the whole tragedy would have been avoided. And I wouldn’t be writing this letter to a fictional corpse. Yours sincerely, A very dissatisfied reader.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Cori

    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 girl, finds out she's actually the descendant of the once-mighty D'Urbervilles. She goes in search of work at her relatives' home, and meets Alec D'Urberville (no actual relation -- he stole the name), 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 girl, finds out she's actually the descendant of the once-mighty D'Urbervilles. She goes in search of work at her relatives' home, and meets Alec D'Urberville (no actual relation -- he stole the name), who seduces her and rapes her in the forest. Bastard. Tess leaves the D'Urberville estate to be with her family again, and winds up pregnant. The baby is born but quickly succumbs to death. Tess, who thinks her rape and death of her child are her own fault, moves away to work at a dairy. There, she meets Angel Clare (a kind man from a good family) and the two fall in love. Tess refuses his requests for an engagement, saying she's not worth him and her past would make him not love her. He pleads with her and tells her it's not the case. Finally, she agrees and the two are wed. That night, they tell each other their deepest, darkest secrets. Angel admits to two drunken nights of debauchery, which Tess forgives him for, and Tess tells him the story about Alec and the child. Angel decides Tess's sins are too great and leaves to Brazil to clear his head. Bastard. Tess then embarks upon a long journey of trying to pay penance for her sins by doing difficult manual labor. Her letters to Angel go unanswered, but she still blames herself. When she finally hits rock bottom, she goes to appeal to Angel's family for money, although her pride never lets her go through with her plan. On her way home, she meets a street preacher, who is none other than a reformed Alec D'Urberville, although it's pretty apparent that his faith is transparent. Bastard. Tess tells him that she had had a child and it died, and Alec proceeds to follow her around and asks her to marry him repeatedly, saying he's her true husband because he raped her they had consumated their love. Finally, she gives in because she hasn't heard from Angel (bastard) and her family is in dire straits and is living in a graveyard. Alec supports her and her family. Angel finally realizes that Tess was not responsible for her sins and decides to come back for her, only to learn she's living with Alec. Tess is so distraught knowing that Angel finally came back for her (she never stopped loving him and blaming herself), that she kills Alec (go Tess!) and she and Angel go on the lam. Tess is finally apprehended at Stonehenge, and is soon put to death. Yeah. Seriously. That's one depressing story. As a woman who lives in 2007, I had a hard time feeling for Tess when I just wanted to scream, "it's not your fault he raped you! Men (at least in this book) are bastards! You're worth more than them!" But of course this didn't occur to Tess in 1891. It was all her fault and she was paying for her sins. The book was so bleak when it was bleak, and so lovely the few times it was lovely. Hardy's writing was very evocative, and the subject matter was apparently scandalous in his day. His descriptions of England were amazing, too. I listened to the audio book, read by Davina Porter, and it was wonderful. She's a phenomenal reader -- one of the best so far. My Rating: 9 out of 10 for being so tragically bleak yet so fantastically written. Also, the mini-series starring Justine Waddell is uh-ma-zing, so if you don't feel like reading the book (although I highly recommend it) you can watch the movie instead.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Maria

    I hated this passionately, which is perhaps unfair, as the book is really quite admirable for tackling the subject of double standards applied to male and female sexual behaviour. But this is one of the most depressing, pointless novels I’ve ever read in my life. I have loathed this book for ten years and I will not stop.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Henry Avila

    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 village of Marlott, Wessex. A lazy father, John, with a taste for the bottle, and a mother, Joan, who would rather sing the latest songs, than do the necessary chores, at home. But she grows up a very attracti 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 village of Marlott, Wessex. A lazy father, John, with a taste for the bottle, and a mother, Joan, who would rather sing the latest songs, than do the necessary chores, at home. But she grows up a very attractive woman and everyone notices, especially young men. Informed by a minister, Parson Tringham, an antiquarian, that he, Mr. John Durbeyfield, real name is the ancient one of D'urbervilles, a honored wealthy family, of the past. They originated with a Norman knight, of that name, who came over with William the Conqueror, but now have lost all their lands and mansions, just another destitute family, in the late, Victorian age. John proudly boasts about it, at the local watering hole, getting drunk and his wife Joan, has to fetch him, which she is delighted to do. The only fun she has, outside the cottage. Tess being the eldest child, helps out her mother with the work of taking care of her brothers and sisters. Her mother finds out, that there is a very rich family of D'urbervilles, not far away, and urges her daughter to make a friendly visit. Hesitating, but finally decides to obey and go. Arriving, after a long walk, Tess discoverers that the relatives are not. Having changed their names from Stokes, for the prestige! But meeting Alec D'urbervilles, the only son of a blind widow, he calls her cousin, in a mocking way. A lecherous man of 23, Tess is only 16. Offered a job taking care of the eccentric old lady's pet birds, she can't refuse, her family needs the money. Alec is always chasing her, the innocent girl lasts four months there, Tess comes back home, no longer a girl. After a few unpleasant years passed in the village, and with her father ill, she gets a job as a milk maid to support the family, at a distant farm, besides, Tess hears whispers. Becoming great friends with three other young women, Izz, Retty, and Marian, fellow workers there and roommates. All fall madly in love with a handsome , clergyman's son, Angel Clare. Who strangely wants to become a farmer not a minister in the Church of England, like his two older brothers. Which greatly disappoints his orthodox father, and keeps him from receiving an university education. Learning at the dairy, but he has only eyes for the lovely Tess. Angel keeps on asking her to marry him. And the uneasy woman, has a secret she would not want to disclose. And Mr. Clare, comes from a stable, middle class, family. Does Tess, tell him and risk losing the man she loves... Thomas Hardy's most famous and best novel, I think, but not for the very faint-heart, when the pathos, flow.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Helle

    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 literature. Not a bit of it. Woman who suggested it: Well, as you know I love the classics, and I think this is a great book. I’ve read it many times. Me (sitting next to her): I really liked it, too, and w 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 literature. Not a bit of it. Woman who suggested it: Well, as you know I love the classics, and I think this is a great book. I’ve read it many times. Me (sitting next to her): I really liked it, too, and was glad to finally read it. It was a tale of woe, to be sure, but I liked it. A few more comments like that follow, it being the brief introductory round. New guy: I don’t know if I liked it or not, it was just so looong. I can see similarities with some of Balzac’s works and with Madame Bovary, but there seemed to be something missing in Tess. I don’t know. I agree that Hardy can write, but I really don’t know what I’m supposed to get out of this today. I mean the view of this woman, who’s supposed to be totally pure but doesn’t do anything? She just doesn’t DO anything – what’s that about? I really needed a reason for picking up this book, or you know, I need to know why this is still read. I mean why… Moderator: Uhm. This is just the brief introductory round, so maybe we can come back to some of this? Everyone around the table is stunned into silence. Before beginning our discussion of Tess, we had briefly told the new guy our names and how long the group had existed (four years). The feeling was one of welcome goodwill. Moderator: I think I know what you mean, though. I’m not sure what I thought about it either. Yes, it’s well written, but there seems to be a lot of unnecessary melodrama and one or two situations that I found somewhat unconvincing. Me: Really? But… New guy: Yeah, Hardy seems to overdo it sometimes, and then at other times he spends 50 pages just wallowing in thoughts. Nothing happens. Me: What?! Lots of stuff happens. But it’s not Dan Brown, that’s true. It’s a pastoral, Victorian novel where we follow one woman’s journey and the hardships she goes through. Communist vegan woman (nodding): In an era when women were still living in a man’s world and struggling to survive. New guy: But if we’re supposed to read it today, give me a good reason. I mean, Tess is just so whiny and selfish. One minute she’s pure, then she isn’t. Why doesn’t she just get up and leave when she doesn’t like her situation? How is her inability to act even relevant for today’s society? (continues in a similar vein for about a minute) Communist vegan woman (getting worked up): Listen, Thomas Hardy had a very modern view of women. This story is quite realistic, but you’re taking a very northern view of this. In some countries today, if a woman has been with a man, that’s it; they’re practically married. In the eyes of the surrounding community they are. And remember that scene where she hides her face with a scarf because she’s constantly getting shouted at by men? Tell me that’s not relevant today! We hear news about stuff like that constantly: the women are practically begging to be raped, right? Me: That’s a good point. Also, it was written in 1891, not in 2016. That’s way before women’s emancipation, which by the way is still going on. But I really don’t see how Tess is selfish. She’s constantly trying to do good and help her family, but she’s let down by everyone around her – her parents, Alec, Angel; society. New guy: I don’t see how her parents are to blame. She is the one who decides to go here, there and everywhere to get a new job or find Angel’s parents. Communist vegan woman: Oh, she hardly decides! It’s her parents who push her into contacting the D’Urbervilles in the first place. Woman who suggested it: And after that it’s poverty! Me: Exactly. It’s the pastor at the beginning of the novel who gets the ball rolling when he mentions that her family is related to the famous D’Urbervilles. Tess is caught up in her parents’ ambitions to form a connection with them. And later she’s caught in both society’s view of how women should behave and in religious double standards. And poverty is underneath all of it. Moderator: I see that that’s what Hardy wants us to believe, but I don’t really buy it. I mean why does Tess (view spoiler)[kill Alec at the end? (hide spoiler)] That was very unconvincing to me. She could have just walked out. New guy: Right, that was totally out of the blue. No reason for it. And similarly: when Tess (view spoiler)[ becomes pregnant and loses the child (hide spoiler)] Hardy spends two or three lines on it, instead of spending some time on it so that we could feel the drama, and the same goes for the ending when (view spoiler)[she kills him and they end up at Stonehenge etc. (hide spoiler)] Most unlikely and really unsatisfying. Why would she do that? I was expecting something else…yadayadayada. Me: Can we reply? New guy: Yadayadayada… Me (again): Can we reply? New guy looks up, surprised. He clearly didn’t hear me the first time and reluctantly manages to reign in his monologue. Me: Well, you mention the word ‘expectations’, which is basically your pre-conceived notions of what the novel should have been about. That’s really neither here nor there. This is what the book is like, and we have to discuss it on that premise. New guy and moderator (taking turns): Yeah, but still, there were pages and pages where we were getting nowhere. You could have cut out 50 pages, and we’d still be left on some farm somewhere. Woman who suggested it: Yes, but don’t you see that there are two farms and two kinds of moods for Tess? The first one, with the Cricks, where life is looking bright and she meets Angel, and then the second one where she’s working too hard and disappointment kicks in. As someone mentioned, it’s a story about a woman’s hardships in a society that she feels cannot contain her. Heated comments from the moderator and the new guy ensue. Some of the other group members never manage to get a comment in edgewise, and one girl ups and leaves. Communist vegan woman: Sounds to me like you just can’t empathize with Tess, which I think is really sad. I nod vigorously and think, ‘ouch’, while mentally tuning out during their response. Someone (in a conciliatory manner): I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree. Me: Right. (But really I’m thinking: I’m not sure this book club is big enough for both me and the new guy. The next meeting may tell).

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    808. Tess of The D’Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy Tess of the d'Urbervilles: A Pure Woman Faithfully Presented is a novel by Thomas Hardy. It initially appeared in a censored and serialised version, published by the British illustrated newspaper The Graphic in 1891 and in book form in 1892. Though now considered a major nineteenth-century English novel and possibly Hardy's fictional masterpiece. Tess is the oldest child of John and Joan Durbeyfield, uneducated peasants. However, John is given the impr 808. Tess of The D’Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy Tess of the d'Urbervilles: A Pure Woman Faithfully Presented is a novel by Thomas Hardy. It initially appeared in a censored and serialised version, published by the British illustrated newspaper The Graphic in 1891 and in book form in 1892. Though now considered a major nineteenth-century English novel and possibly Hardy's fictional masterpiece. Tess is the oldest child of John and Joan Durbeyfield, uneducated peasants. However, John is given the impression by Parson Tringham that he may have noble blood, as "Durbeyfield" is a corruption of "D'Urberville", the surname of an extinct noble Norman family. Knowledge of this immediately goes to John's head. That same day, Tess participates in the village May Dance, where she meets Angel Clare, youngest son of Reverend James Clare, who is on a walking tour with his two brothers. He stops to join the dance and partners several other girls. Angel notices Tess too late to dance with her, as he is already late for a promised meeting with his brothers. Tess feels slighted. ... عنوانها: باکره دوربراویلز؛ تس دوربرویل؛ نویسنده: تامس هاردی؛ (دنیای نو) ادبیات؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: ماه آگوست سال 1997 میلادی عنوان: تس دوربرویل؛ نویسنده: تامس هاردی؛ مترجم: ابراهیم یونسی؛ تهران، فرهنگ نشر نو، 1383؛ در 543 ص؛ عنوان: باکره دوربراویلز؛ نویسنده: تامس هاردی؛ مترجم: محمدصادق شریعتی؛ تهران، گویش نو، 1388؛ در 244 ص؛ با عنوانهای دیگر هم چاپ شده اطلاعات چاپ کتاب کامل نیست در این داستان، «تس» دختری زیبا، از خانواده‌ ای تهیدست است. او برای کار به خانه ای می‌رود، که نام از خاندان‌های اصیل آن دیار جعل نموده‌ اند. پسر خانواده به «تس» تجاوز میکند، و او را صاحب فرزندی که پس از چندی می‌میرد. «تس» پس از این رخداد، بدون یاری از کسی در یک گاو‌داری استخدام، و با مردی تحصیل کرده، به نام «انجل کلر» آشنا می‌شود. «انجل» ادعا می‌کند که از سنت‌ها بریده، و از تعصب به دور است؛ اما هنگامی که «تس» در حضور وی اعتراف می‌کند که دوشیزه نیست، «انجل» او را ترک کرده به امریکا می‌رود. و ... ا. شربیانی

  10. 5 out of 5

    Lizzy

    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? But not even that was in store for our poor heroine. Tess sweet, loving nature is invariably abused by men, specifically the two central male characters of Alec D'Urberville and Angel Clare. The road tha 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? But not even that was in store for our poor heroine. Tess sweet, loving nature is invariably abused by men, specifically the two central male characters of Alec D'Urberville and Angel Clare. The road that these two men lead her down becomes increasingly more terrible and depressing. But what makes it worst is that Tess herself felt she deserved her fate. Yes, I found the story compelling but too sad and disheartening, and if it were not for Thomas Hardy superb writing, I would find myself not enjoying it at all. Yes, it almost makes me feel angry with Hardy, for Tess seems to make decisions that regularly could not be the worst choice. She seems never to catch a break. So, our heroine resigns herself to a bleak future at best, having learned to consider herself through the brutal prism of social convention. Never in her life – she could swear it from the bottom of her soul – had she ever intended to do wrong, yet these hard judgments had come. Whatever her sins, they were not sins of intention, but of inadvertence, and why should she have been punished so persistently. What insensibility the rigid morals that applied to women in Victorian England. Hardy demonstrates it superbly, even if by doing it he made me weep. But that was the reality of the times. Morals and attitudes shaped women as inferior and subservient to men. Aren't there traces of those views even nowadays? In fact, there was no escape for Tess. And Hardy goes beyond, portraying majestically the peril unhealthy relationships hold. He does not need to idolize anything; all is there plain to see. She might have seen that what had bowed her head so profoundly - the thought of the world's concern at her situation - was founded on illusion. She was not an existence, an experience, a passion, a structure of sensations, to anybody but herself. To all humankind besides, Tess was only a passing thought. May Hardy have gone too far? I question myself. Tess carries her sufferings and guilt through her entire life, but I found myself wanting for a reprieve. Hardy hits you over and over again with Tess's misery that reading his story; I sometimes wanted to abandon her. Wuthering Heights is full of darkness, but at least the mystery, atmosphere and stronger than life characters appealed more to me. While for Tess there is only disillusionment, adversity and despair; and I found myself wanting a reprieve. Hardy hits you over and over again with such misery that reading it sometimes I was urged to forget her. That did not happen when I was reading Wuthering Heights. What I feel is that there are shades of darkness, and I prefer Emily Brontë’s gloom. Nevertheless, I enjoyed this book. However, I certainly will not revisit it, knowing ultimately of Tess’s cruel destiny. For my pleasure reads, I will stick with the happily-ever-after of Lizzy Bennet, or the brooding of Heathcliff that seems stronger than death. But meanwhile, I have to appreciate Hardy’s talent and perseverance in writing such a bleak story, for it is a reality that dreadful things happen to nice people.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Duane

    This review contains spoilers. Young Tess Durbyfield, one of the sweetest, most likable, yet tragic, characters in literature. "A pure woman faithfully presented", as Hardy calls her in the sub-title of the book. She is sent out from her family home by her mother and father to the great family of the D'Ubervilles to claim her share of the family fortune. But her pure, innocent mind is no match for the roguish Alec D'Uberville, and their meeting sets Tess on a path that will eventually lead to her This review contains spoilers. Young Tess Durbyfield, one of the sweetest, most likable, yet tragic, characters in literature. "A pure woman faithfully presented", as Hardy calls her in the sub-title of the book. She is sent out from her family home by her mother and father to the great family of the D'Ubervilles to claim her share of the family fortune. But her pure, innocent mind is no match for the roguish Alec D'Uberville, and their meeting sets Tess on a path that will eventually lead to her downfall. This is not considered Hardy's best novel by some critics, but it is my personal favorite.

  12. 5 out of 5

    unknown

    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. To escape her misery, she imagines elaborate musical sequences in her mind. She's also kind of an idiot. Now, what Lars is going for here could be called misogyny or satire or sociopathy, but in short: he 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. To escape her misery, she imagines elaborate musical sequences in her mind. She's also kind of an idiot. Now, what Lars is going for here could be called misogyny or satire or sociopathy, but in short: he really loves torturing characters like poor Björk. So many awful things happen to her, and they are so awful, but also... they are frustratingly melodramatic and contrived. Björk's cop landlord finds out she has a lot of cash. He needs money, but when she refuses to let him borrow it, citing her beatific little son, he tries to steal it and somehow, the impossibilities of the scene continue to pile up and Björk winds up murdering him (oh, there are going to be spoilers here, by the way), not only shooting him several times, but also bashing his head in with a safety deposit box, and runs off and gives the cash to the blindness clinic before she is arrested. So Björk is tried for murder and theft of the cash that was actually hers, and there are all these extenuating circumstances that she could use to prove her (general) innocence. But for any number of dumb reasons, she cannot. She cannot even explain where the money went (or for some reason, that she is almost blind) because that will result in the cash being seized, and her son will never get his vague operation. Oh also she promised the guy she killed that she wouldn't tell about his stealing, and she won't, even though he is dead and he screwed her over pretty bad in the process. Even when a friend figures everything out and brings in a lawyer to get her off, she refuses because of her son, resigned to her fate. So anyway, she is convicted, and sentenced to death, and has one last fantasy song sequence as she is walking to the gallows, and just when it reaches its operatic climax (after some awful keening when they attempt to put the hood over her head), they pull the lever and her neck snaps. That's the end of the movie. Everyone I know who has seen it has the same story: by the end, they were rolled into a ball on the couch, quivering and lowing quietly in grief. Though a really excellent movie in many ways, with a devastating lead performance, watching it is a brutal experience, simply because it is so relentlessly dogmatic in its bleakness, its melodrama, its dim view of humanity, and its commitment to punishing the leading lady. I am pretty sure Lars von Trier read a lot of Thomas Hardy when he was growing up. He definitely read Tess of the d'Urbervilles. Facebook 30 Day Book Challenge Day 4: Book that makes you cry.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Rowena

    If I'd only known how much I would enjoy this book, I wouldn't have let it sit on my shelf for 5 long years! I adore classics but it is hard for me to read a lot of them without feeling some indignation of the injustices dealt to women. Hardy presents us with Tess, a young woman who really doesn't have much control over her life. She is forced to sacrifice herself time and again for her family, including her child-like parents. Poor Tess. My heart really ached for her. Having to go through all s If I'd only known how much I would enjoy this book, I wouldn't have let it sit on my shelf for 5 long years! I adore classics but it is hard for me to read a lot of them without feeling some indignation of the injustices dealt to women. Hardy presents us with Tess, a young woman who really doesn't have much control over her life. She is forced to sacrifice herself time and again for her family, including her child-like parents. Poor Tess. My heart really ached for her. Having to go through all she went through and never having any sort of justice handed to her was heartbreaking. Therein lies the problem of that society; the double standards between women and men, the Victorian ideal of purity for women only. Without revealing too much, I think I disliked Angel Clare almost as much as I disliked Alec D'Urberville; what a hypocrite and a coward. Despite the tragedies in this story, I highly recommend this book. Hardy's prose is just wonderful. It turns out he was a naturalist and it shows by how well and uniquely he writes about the Wessex countryside where this novel is set. Additionally, his descriptions of people's feelings was wonderful.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Rakhi Dalal

    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 was much aware of the sad state of farm workers, especially women during those times. The dilemma faced by women, who were the victims of seduction, appalled Hardy and he was aghast at lack of concern to 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 was much aware of the sad state of farm workers, especially women during those times. The dilemma faced by women, who were the victims of seduction, appalled Hardy and he was aghast at lack of concern towards them. In “Candour in English fiction” he criticized the so called morality, which labelled a victim of seduction as an outcast. Sadly, the inspiration for this work had originated from an actual incidence of public hanging, which Hardy had himself witnessed, of a woman named Martha Brown who had killed her abusive husband when he had hit her over a quarrel. *Hardy noted "what a fine figure she showed against the sky as she hung in the misty rain, and how the tight black silk gown set off her shape as she wheeled half round and back", after Calcraft had tied her dress close to her body. It is believed that Hardy was captivated by the reminiscences of that hanging. It might be possible that the figure of the hanging woman through tight dress, that she wore, and her rain soaked hood inspired Hardy to frame a beautiful yet helpless character in Tess, someone who could be risen to unsurpassed heights by sacrificing herself to make amends for the morality imposed upon her and for her simple desires of life. This review is not aimed at warning the first time readers of Tess, but still the foray would be suggested only if one is ready to plunge into the world of hers and is prepared to witness the cruelty of fate or some other force (Immanent Will) as suggested by Hardy. The reading might make one wonder how a little desire for happiness can become the source of such tragic events, but more so to question whether there is any significance of the longings of the meek creatures of flesh when faced with unforeseen forces hell bent at destroying the mere cocoon which envelops them. Yes, this is what Hardy aims at through his writings. Been influenced by the Greek tragedies and also by the times he lived in, his work portrays the plight of human beings, who seem helpless when confronted with the ruthless morality of society or unpredictable forces. The reader, hence, must be ready here for testing times because it is definitely not an easy journey. You might be appalled at the never ending problems that Tess has to face while doing the best that she can supposedly do for her family and for her love. According to Arnold Kettle: “Hardy saw Tess as the victim of the President of the Immortals. A pessimistic and deterministic view of the world in which man – and even more, woman – is at the mercy of an unyielding outside fate, is the conscious philosophy behind the novel.” Hardy used this force of Immanent Will here in the same manner as the Greek concept of dike. As a result, we get an account of the state of a woman, who in order to right the one wrong done by her (as she thinks so, that of the unfortunate killing of family horse while she was driving the cart), sets out for noble deeds, little knowing that her simple desire to bring happiness into the family will result into such tragic events in her life, which she would only be able to atone by sacrificing herself. Her visit to d’Urbervilles to claim kin, the subsequent meeting with Alec, her seduction, the birth of her unfortunate child, her labor, meeting with Angel, their marriage and break up , the return of Alec and finally, the murder of Alec by Tess. Ah! Such a heart wrenching tale! Why couldn’t she have a life? As a reader you feel sad and enraged for the so called morality of those times which painted the women in an entirely alien manner. If it was Alec who initiated the series of misfortunes for Tess, it was Angel who further aggravated them by not being more humane and understanding. If only Angel had not been under the influence of social obligations of morality and would have accepted Tess, she wouldn’t have to sacrifice her life to prove her purity. But she had to sacrifice her life, to prove it to Angel, the one she loved, that she was pure at heart, that she only wished her family to be happy and that all she did was to make sure that they could live easily. Hardy used the concept of Pharmakos or the sacrifice goat at the end, to portray the surrender of humans before the Immanent will for salvation, when he depicted Tess resting at Stonehenge and being greeted by morning rays. Tess is pure and innocent in the sense that what ensues with her is far greater than any of her deeds can incite. But what she sacrifices for, is being guilty of living in a society and a world where humans are incapable of escaping the action of such forces for which there couldn’t simply be any justification. *http://neal.oxborrow.net/Thomas_Hardy...

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jason Koivu

    Damn it, Tess! Stand up for yourself! Ugh.... Is there anything more infuriating than seeing dudes get away with being two-faced assholes towards women and the women accepting it as a matter of course? Certainly Thomas Hardy was writing of a time and place that not only condoned the privilege of condescending white male superiority, it perpetuated it by both sexes accepting it as the standard of the day. More like double standard of the day. What's good for the gander is NOT okay for the goose to Damn it, Tess! Stand up for yourself! Ugh.... Is there anything more infuriating than seeing dudes get away with being two-faced assholes towards women and the women accepting it as a matter of course? Certainly Thomas Hardy was writing of a time and place that not only condoned the privilege of condescending white male superiority, it perpetuated it by both sexes accepting it as the standard of the day. More like double standard of the day. What's good for the gander is NOT okay for the goose to even consider! Thank god, or whoever, I wasn't born a woman. I'd have been burned at the stake, stoned to death, etc., because there's no way I would've been able to silently bear the hypocrisy. But hey, aside from that kerfuffle, Tess of the D'Urbervilles is a damn fine novel! What prose! Has inner turmoil ever been so well described? Definitely not so detailed. Hardy has a hundred and one different ways to tell you about a character's personal conflict, and so he does. Yes, that can be wearying. It can also be quite satisfying. Just sit back and let the words wash over you. It's all quite impressive. After a few hundred pages, however, a tiny bit of tedium might set in. Enough description is enough! I tried to put myself in the character's place and I've read up enough on Victorian values to understand the constraints, but still...I don't know what it is...maybe it felt like too much handwringing. This deserves the five-star-because-it's-a-classic treatment, but I dropped it to four mainly for a lack of enjoyment on my part from start to finish. The book devolves into a literary scat film. I mean, has anyone been dumped on more than Tess? It got tiring after awhile. I get it, she's put-upon. The martyrdom dragged on and on, so that with a hundred or so pages to go I was already finished with this. Still and all, it's a damn fine book! I'll be going back to Hardy again in the future. Probably the distant future though.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Apatt

    “I felt a little like a man reading a very grim book. A Thomas Hardy novel, say. You know how it’s going to end, but instead of spoiling things, that somehow increases your fascination. It’s like watching a kid run his electric train faster and faster and waiting for it to derail on one of the curves.”Stephen King, 11/22/63When I was reading King’s 11/22/63 I noted down this line because I was planning to read Tess of the d'Urbervilles soon and from its reputation and the two other Thomas Hardy “I felt a little like a man reading a very grim book. A Thomas Hardy novel, say. You know how it’s going to end, but instead of spoiling things, that somehow increases your fascination. It’s like watching a kid run his electric train faster and faster and waiting for it to derail on one of the curves.”Stephen King, 11/22/63When I was reading King’s 11/22/63 I noted down this line because I was planning to read Tess of the d'Urbervilles soon and from its reputation and the two other Thomas Hardy novels that I read I expected that it will probably make me at least a little melancholy, if not downright miserable. Why read it then? Just as books by Neal Stephenson is a workout for the mind I think that Hardy’s books are a good workout for the emotion (or what we on the interweb call the feels these days). The initial plot trajectory from the moment Tess meets the obvious degenerate (and proud of it) Alec d'Urberville with his fancy sports car dog-cart and strawberries is predictable. — Nastassja Kinski As Tess (1979 adaptation) — It is clearly telegraphed by the author and you just know it is not going to well for poor Tess. After being turned into “damaged goods,” she puts up a brave face and soldiers on with her life, taking a minimum wage job as a milkmaid. As luck (or misfortune) would have it she meets Angel Clare a nice young man who relentlessly courted her and she falls in love with to devastating effect. Tess of the d'Urbervilles is a character study and also a social commentary of the time of Hardy’s writing. The characterization of the main protagonists is quite complex. Tess herself starts off a naturally beautiful naïve girl who Hardy puts through the wringer and emerges no less beautiful in spite of spiritual damage. The only truly indomitable thing about her seems to be her beauty. She makes a one poor decision after another and the goodness of her heart is eventually her undoing as misadventures are heaped upon her by the author (shakes fist at Hardy). As for Angel Clare, the romantic lead of this tale of woe, although he evidently a good man he is in some ways worse than Alec d'Urberville. The devastation he wrought upon Tess on the basis of his self-righteous conception of morality makes him entirely unsympathetic. While Alec is basically just a garden variety womanizer Angel is what Monty Python once described as a “silly bunt” (if that makes no sense you may want to google it). Gemma Arterton As Tess (2009 adaptation), again with the strawberry! So as expected it all ends in tears, this novel is no less miserable than the mirthless Jude the Obscure (if you want to read a relatively happy Hardy you may want to check out Far from the Madding Crowd). Thomas Hardy’s writing flows as beautifully as ever but if he was still alive today I probably wouldn’t want to invite him to a birthday party. I have The Return of the Native in my TBR though. Like Tess, I must be a sucker for punishment. Anyway, highly recommended; read this and you may never laugh again (LOL!). _________________________________ Note: I read the audiobook version of this book, beautifully narrated by Davina Porter, got it really cheap from Amazon at $0.99!

  17. 5 out of 5

    J

    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 told anyone these things. Should I have? Does anyone care?

  18. 4 out of 5

    notgettingenough

    Not long ago I had a parting with my mother which was unexpectedly emotional. We both hastily pulled back from that, not being given to such displays with each other, but a few days later my mother wrote to say she was suddenly overwhelmed with the sense that there are more partings than meetings in life, if that were philosophically possible. A mathematician, I fancy, would say this is a perfectly simple situation. If there is a parting, there must have been a meeting, just as for every ending a Not long ago I had a parting with my mother which was unexpectedly emotional. We both hastily pulled back from that, not being given to such displays with each other, but a few days later my mother wrote to say she was suddenly overwhelmed with the sense that there are more partings than meetings in life, if that were philosophically possible. A mathematician, I fancy, would say this is a perfectly simple situation. If there is a parting, there must have been a meeting, just as for every ending a beginning. And yet this is simply not true, which is why science is so limited in what it can explain to us. In fact, the more one begins to consider the matter of meetings and partings the more complicated it all becomes. My father died a couple of months ago. Was that his parting from me, as my mother moved him from one position from another to make his unconscious state more comfortable for him, only to see him stop breathing for ever? Or was it a few days prior when I arrived in Adelaide and he squeezed my hand, his last conscious gesture? Was that a greeting or a parting? A few years ago I had two of my closest friends die, suddenly, without warning, doing domestic chores one minute, dead moments later. Where is the parting? An innocuous affair on both occasions. Breakfast with one the day before, ‘see you on Friday, Maree’. Coffee with the other, ‘Til the weekend, Paul’. These are not partings. And, if it comes to that, which meeting matches a parting? In the case of my relationship with my father, is his death to be counterpoised by my birth? My father most gingerly picking up this tiny thing who is appalled by the flat hairy chest she finds with the entirely inadequate nipple. ‘Whah. WHAHHHHHHH. Give me back to the one with the big breasts, get me outta here.’ Most likely complete relief on the part of both of us. Does this occasion in any way match up to our final parting? Do we intuitively feel like the partings outweigh the meetings because in the end sadness overwhelms joy? But is this really true? Do not tiny moments of happiness have the capacity to overrun and totally banish the sadness that led up to them? Maybe some tiny twist in logic of which a mathematician might totally disapprove lets us see not meetings and partings, but partings and meetings, sadness leading to joy, not joy to sadness. I’d forgotten until I just watched it, that Tess is a story of meetings and partings. In a life of cruel partings, and meetings which are always tainted so that joy is melancholic and not to be trusted, when Tess takes the final decisive step that permits her no more than a few days of the exquisite all-encompassing happiness which was so rightfully hers, but which she could only take through an act that ensured her happiness would be the briefest of things, still, do we not have a sense that those few sweet days are what she takes with her, that they negate every shitty dreadful thing that has happened to her before then? rest is here: http://alittleteaalittlechat.wordpres...

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jr Bacdayan

    It pains me to say that whenever I hear about Tess of the d'Urbervilles, I automatically associate it with Fifty Shades of Grey. Oh, that this masterpiece be besmirched in my mind by that rubbish is a travesty! Thus, I resolutely set upon disconnecting the thread by finally reading this book. And what a journey this has taken me in. I've heard from a lot of people, that Tess is one of Mr. Hardy's more inferior works. This being my first Hardy experience. Honestly, if you call this is inferior, t It pains me to say that whenever I hear about Tess of the d'Urbervilles, I automatically associate it with Fifty Shades of Grey. Oh, that this masterpiece be besmirched in my mind by that rubbish is a travesty! Thus, I resolutely set upon disconnecting the thread by finally reading this book. And what a journey this has taken me in. I've heard from a lot of people, that Tess is one of Mr. Hardy's more inferior works. This being my first Hardy experience. Honestly, if you call this is inferior, then Mayor and Jude must be near perfect. Because, dear madams and sirs, this is writing in one of its finest embodiment. Yes, it is not perfect, but it is not flawed either. It is there in the precipice of greatness, but not quite. This you shall see later on. Shall we begin? One of the more popular criticisms to Tess is the notion that it depicts women horribly. I agree, to some extent it does. And I understand as to why feminists would feel bad about it. But we have to consider the setting of the story, this being Victorian England. And that the view towards women depicted in the book is just normal for its time. And not only that, mind you, this is a peasant woman in Victorian England. It is not only time but creed that has molded her into a self-abdicating woman. I feel that some feminists anger towards this book is untoward and uncalled for. Surely, they don't expect all women in literature to be independent and strong-willed. Anyway, we are now dealing with character and this can be fully independent of gender. I'm not an anti-feminist, dear no. I'm a humanist and in matters such as this, I only adhere to reason. No more. I do applaud feminists for their fervor, though. Another point that I should like to expound upon has its roots on the relationships that this book surmounts and how I perceive it so. Firstly, I believe that this relationship triangle of sorts is an allegory. Well, I have always seen allegories in things. But let me expostulate. Tess- innocent, unperceiving, self-abdicating, weak - I see in this the characteristics of the poor and the needy. These, she represents. Alec - rich, deceiving, heartless, cruel - here I see the traits of the powerful and the tyrants. And Angel - Intelligent, Imaginative, Logical - a man of reason. These three people represent the relationships and interactions that occur in these three groups. The poor and the needy being oppressed and taken advantage upon by the rich tyrants. The men of reason on the other hand, would endeavor to help the needy. But discovering that the needy to have flaws and crimes forced upon them by their desperation and neediness, would be flung by the men of reason as unworthy beings. Thus the needy would be ignored by both. Rich tyrants, on the other hand, can be converted by religion, thus reverting from their old ways and helping the poor. But this type of help is more of self gratification than actual kindness. Being that they only do it save their pampered souls from fiery damnation. Men of reason, on the other hand, can be made to realize the errors of their ways in time. The needy, being mostly uneducated, their only way to improve is to gain intelligence by the men of reason. They being their hope for a better life, not the rich converts. But the uneducated paupers are often trapped by the snares of the enemy. The ultimate act of the needy being murdered is a depiction of the injustice in the imperfect society that we live in. I do think that Hardy is not so pessimistic about relationships as this book makes him seem. Only, that he has other things considered. “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.” Tess, more or less, is much more a criticism to society and its norms than to females and relationships as some perceive it to be. That society values trifles that do not reflect the internal image of people, but rather the external. The structure worshiped but the essence ignored. That spirit and character be no match for breeding and standing is a travesty higher than my associating this book with Fifty Shades. That people look not at inward but the outward. This is what makes this book so sorrowful. This excerpt below is one of the more tender moments of the book. My favorite one, of all. I fancy that it is a scene intended as clue to the coming sadness. But this also suggests the imperfectness of our world, our society. “Did you say the stars were worlds, Tess?" "Yes." "All like ours?" "I don't know, but I think so. They sometimes seem to be like the apples on our stubbard-tree. Most of them splendid and sound - a few blighted." "Which do we live on - a splendid one or a blighted one?" "A blighted one.” **after their only horse dies** “Tis because we be on a blighted star, and not a sound one, isn't it Tess?” I should not warrant much more of your time. Let me just make up for all the bleakness. But the book doesn't end in gloom. The ending is far more hopeful than perceived. That though Tess dies, Liza-Lu takes her place. A younger, better version of herself. This I take to heart as, the hope to improve society lies within the younger generation. They must hand in hand work with men of intellect to improve the norms of society that stains the innate beauty of this world. And compared with the generation of Hardy, I do believe that he was right. That we have improved society and its trifles, that we will continue to improve through the years, I hope to believe. “Beauty lay not in the thing, but in what the thing symbolized.”

  20. 4 out of 5

    Arah-Lynda

    I am quite conflicted by this read. On the one hand, Hardy’s style is flawless, beautiful as he describes the country side, the dairy, drawing out the vivid landscapes of this story. His delicious bits delight the senses with heart stopping sensitivity. And then there is his Tess our protagonist….poor Tess is so downtrodden, her journey so bleak, hello Holden Caulfield this is PUT UPON. Still Tess is strong and holds close, her own little sparks, nuggets of hope, she tucks them way back, protectiv I am quite conflicted by this read. On the one hand, Hardy’s style is flawless, beautiful as he describes the country side, the dairy, drawing out the vivid landscapes of this story. His delicious bits delight the senses with heart stopping sensitivity. And then there is his Tess our protagonist….poor Tess is so downtrodden, her journey so bleak, hello Holden Caulfield this is PUT UPON. Still Tess is strong and holds close, her own little sparks, nuggets of hope, she tucks them way back, protectively from the constant despair gnaw, gnaw, gnawing on those small blossoms of hope, feeding on all those delicious bits, always hungry, always there. Sigh……this story sits on my soul.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Helene Jeppesen

    This was a very beautiful story about Tess, who grows from being a child to being a woman. What she goes through is heart-wrenching; however, having now finished this book I'm left with a huge question mark above my head. First of all, I really liked how Thomas Hardy structured this story. He leaves out bits and pieces which makes the story even more compelling. I thought that we would eventually get the answers to some of our questions, but no! All we get are small hints as to what has happened This was a very beautiful story about Tess, who grows from being a child to being a woman. What she goes through is heart-wrenching; however, having now finished this book I'm left with a huge question mark above my head. First of all, I really liked how Thomas Hardy structured this story. He leaves out bits and pieces which makes the story even more compelling. I thought that we would eventually get the answers to some of our questions, but no! All we get are small hints as to what has happened, but we don't get the final revelation as I was hoping for. Why is that? Furthermore, I was a little bit puzzled with Tess and her behaviour. I liked her a lot, but at the same time I didn't understand her and her decisions on many occasions. In other words, I didn't feel a strong connection to her at any point in the book, but I was very much interested to follow her on her story and see where things were going. This is ultimately a love story that will break your heart. It's also a story about life for maids back in the days, and it's about growing up and making some tough decisions. I liked this novel a lot exactly because it puzzled with my mind, but I would definitely have preferred to have got some answers to all of my questions that I'm now left with.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    This is mostly just a note for me-- I wrote it as I finished the book, and it definitely gives away the ending, but I wanted to post it here because I decided this would be a good place for me to keep track of my thoughts. -------------------------- I just finished reading Tess of the D'urbervilles, and I have to say I'm a little disappointed. Maybe disappointed is not the right word... but it's more than just bummed about the sad parts of the plot. Of course, I am sad about the way the story en This is mostly just a note for me-- I wrote it as I finished the book, and it definitely gives away the ending, but I wanted to post it here because I decided this would be a good place for me to keep track of my thoughts. -------------------------- I just finished reading Tess of the D'urbervilles, and I have to say I'm a little disappointed. Maybe disappointed is not the right word... but it's more than just bummed about the sad parts of the plot. Of course, I am sad about the way the story ended, with Tess killing Alec (her rapist/sugardaddy/pseudo husband) and then her getting executed. It's a pretty depressing end... But there was such a shift, and maybe that was the point. The beauty and love and excitement and novelty of the young lovers Tess and Angel at the dairy is so palpable, so real, but then the utter extinguishing of any hope, joy, optimism at the end... It's shocking, that much more troubling. The story throughout has certain themes of fatalism and transcendentalism (I think-- with the talk of Tess at times experiencing things not as flesh but as a spirit), but what troubled me was the approach to God. So pessimistic. I think I should have seen where the story was going when Tess and Angel started to discuss the inexistance of God. To me, that moment seems as much a foreshadowing of the despair to come as the poor horse Prince getting run through. I'm trying to make sense of this haunting story in terms of my religious beliefs. I can see now, I can start to reconcile my adoration of this book with its resistance to the faith I hold so dear. I can learn from this book that when God is forgotten or ignored or denied, there is despair. I often have wondered how people without hope in divinity face trouble, and I think Tess and Angel illustrate it well. There is little hope for the two on a grand scale, only in each other do they find grounds for optimism. What a troubling, haunting tale. I hate that Tess ended up a murderer and died, but I really hate her deterioration. I hate how the beautiful young woman, fresh and full of love and hope becomes so... cold and hard to like. Certainly she is pitiable at the end of the novel, but hardly likable. The passion between her and Angel is real, and I like that, but ... I don't know. It's been marred, wasted. I hate the portrayal of Alec as the "reformed" born-again Christian who then turned back to his old ways.... Interesting though, how religion is respected, not in the sense that it is true, but in the ways that it can promote good morals or behavior. It bothers me. I know that I always want a happy ending, and I guess part of the reason that I'm disappointed is because this book seemed to promise one. Usually dark books are dark throughout. This one was so cheery and full of the hope of youth and then slowly was drained of life, sot hat by the time I finished the book, I felt like I was burying it. I will say that I like it. It may even be one of my most favorite recent reads. But I am disappointed. It's much like romeo and juliet. Tragedy is so much more tragic when the potential for happiness was close and then missed. Overall, a good book. A good read. Compelling, thought-provoking, tender. It makes me thankful for my faith. It makes me acknowledge the blessing that hope is.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Perry

    The Novel as a "Ball of Light in One's Hand" As one reads Thomas Hardy's 1891 novel, it can be terribly tough to swallow the unremitting victimization of Tess, a poor but "pure" girl from a rural family. Hardy's theme calling on readers' sympathy for the female protagonist, while in many novels would be a glaring weakness, is by novel's end its supreme strength. I cannot think of another novel that comes close to the power and effectiveness in its scathing indictment of men's exploitation of po The Novel as a "Ball of Light in One's Hand" As one reads Thomas Hardy's 1891 novel, it can be terribly tough to swallow the unremitting victimization of Tess, a poor but "pure" girl from a rural family. Hardy's theme calling on readers' sympathy for the female protagonist, while in many novels would be a glaring weakness, is by novel's end its supreme strength. I cannot think of another novel that comes close to the power and effectiveness in its scathing indictment of men's exploitation of poor women in Victorian society as does Tess of the D'Urbervilles. The novel was reportedly scandalous at publication due to its empathetic treatment of a "disgraced" woman. Truth hurts most. Hardy slammed home the absurdity of existing Victorian mores whereby exploited women of poverty were deemed at fault for their sexual and economic exploitation and for their impoverishment. In this way, Tess is the type of book Ezra Pound referred to as "a ball of light in one's hand"--hoisted with the exclamation, Shame on You and Stop the Absurdity! I hold a special place in my literary heart for such fearless, forceful and arresting attacks over the ages on arrogant, affluential assholes. In the story, poor Tess is mercilessly manipulated by two men. First, Alec D'Urberville, a citified cad, rapes and impregnates her on her first job (and, much later, fraudulently seduces her). Then she moves away to work on another farm where she is heavily romanced by and falls in love with Angel Clare who quixotically envisions Tess as a pure and heavenly female who he likens to Demeter, the Greek goddess of fertility. The idealistic character of Clare's expectations renders him unable to forgive Tess for not being a virgin when they married, and causes him to abandon her. By no accounts is Tess's story uplifting. History shows however that Hardy's most-read novel was a necessary ball of light and one of the most paradigmatic, kick-ass social novels ever.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

    Having the narrator of Tess of the d'Urbervilles tell you a story is like waiting for an eloquent speaker and thinker to get to the point; still, you bear it because through elegant word placement, he throws elegiac strains your way, which makes you wait for the story of a despondent young woman who comes of age amid the pictorial naturalism that Hardy paints. Waiting for a Hardy story to unfold is worth it, especially after you've waited for the dimming of the movie craze and you're probably th Having the narrator of Tess of the d'Urbervilles tell you a story is like waiting for an eloquent speaker and thinker to get to the point; still, you bear it because through elegant word placement, he throws elegiac strains your way, which makes you wait for the story of a despondent young woman who comes of age amid the pictorial naturalism that Hardy paints. Waiting for a Hardy story to unfold is worth it, especially after you've waited for the dimming of the movie craze and you're probably the last person on earth who hasn't seen or been affected by the movie. Some say Hardy straddled the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, since the "new woman" who was emerging in progressive cultures, could be found in his works, and yet she was still stuck in the fixed views of the previous era. Seems to me, this still happens in this century. We only evolve when we're willing to adopt new thinking. What is so twentieth century about this novel, however, is the unbiased narration that doesn't lean on stereotypes. While reading this, I didn't have to sit and wonder alone about the unfairness of a world that will ostracize a raped, unmarried, and single-parent female because the narrator helped voice my bewilderment. I didn't have to ponder Angel Clare's madness, because the narrator helped answer the questions I directed to him, when I tried to reach through my book and shake him for caring so much about perfection that he was willing to make the woman he love suffer. I didn't have to worry about the tragic twists of each scene because I received tidbits of gossip disguised as foreshadowing and titled chapters. Occasionally however, I did want to debate a stance with the clever narrator as he regarded life, love, men, and women. Men are too often harsh with women they love or have loved; women with men. And yet these harshnesses are tenderness itself when compared with the universal harshness out of which they grow; the harshness of the position towards the temperament, of the means towards the aims, of today towards yesterday, of hereafter towards today. Even when the storytelling magic I'd hoped for was strangely planed by the narration, I knew that I could count on a tortured consciousness and a rebellion against convention to keep me going. Tess is complicated, sometimes to the point of frustrating the reader, and yet I couldn't help but admire her wherewithal and work ethic. Yes, though you gave us the cliched 'wronged damsel,' you hesitated to give us the 'damsel in distress,' Hardy, and for this, my elation knows no bounds. A woman who does not fear farm-work, a woman who supports her family despite her circumstances - here, I'll pause to wonder: imagine how this story could have ended happily if Tess didn't have to also worry about supporting her parents and family. Hardy assayed the burden of poverty, when he showed how the poor sometimes never make it from beneath the bundle, because the one who supposedly 'makes' it, is expected to shoulder all. Tess tried in vain to get away: "to escape the past and all that appertained thereto was to annihilate it, and to do that she would have to get away." Yet, she never could get away: not from her past, not from her lovers, not from family, and certainly not from herself. Who was the moral man? Still more pertinently, who was the moral woman? 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.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    When I first read this at 18, I hated it with the heat of a thousand suns. Tess was weak, gullible, and apparently doomed to plunge herself from one bad situation into another, while Hardy was clearly a fatalistic atheist. Why on earth would anyone read him? I’m still wondering what possessed me to read other novels of his — perhaps a perverse desire to see if they were just as bad. Whatever the reason, I did continue reading him and surprisingly enough became a fan...but never of Tess! That rem When I first read this at 18, I hated it with the heat of a thousand suns. Tess was weak, gullible, and apparently doomed to plunge herself from one bad situation into another, while Hardy was clearly a fatalistic atheist. Why on earth would anyone read him? I’m still wondering what possessed me to read other novels of his — perhaps a perverse desire to see if they were just as bad. Whatever the reason, I did continue reading him and surprisingly enough became a fan...but never of Tess! That remained a blot on the face of English literature. Imagine my horror when it surfaced on a course syllabus last year and I was forced to reread it, then, almost as horrifically, forced to admit that it actually wasn’t the worst novel ever written (that remains a toss-up between A Lantern in Her Hand and that sequel to Gone With the Wind — which I don’t admit to having read). In fact, this time around I really liked Tess. Not only is the pivotal scene intentionally ambiguous, but the character of Tess herself is portrayed with enough complexity to provide endless debate. To what degree did Alec force himself on Tess? Where does naivety leave off and willful naivety begin? Are there mitigating circumstances for murder? Deception? Stupidity?? Hardy does give the novel fatalistic overtones, but the central questions of personal responsibility versus outside forces are irresolvable. More importantly, Tess’s odd combination of passion and passivity makes her a compelling character to watch. As readers, we dissect and evaluate characters to figure out what innate qualities they have and what their real motives are (which is what makes literary analysis a highbrow cousin of gossip). But some characters remain immune to consensus because there are too many competing or unknown factors, kind of (Uncomfortable Life Lesson)like the way we cannot decisively judge real life people. What a powerful reminder! And a grim one. I suppose the take-home message for me was that if I can muster up compassion for the deeply flawed Tess, certainly I can muster sympathy for the deeply flawed nutcases in my extended family. Or at least that’s the hope. It is a bit easier when you can just open a different book.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    There are mild spoilers in this review and major spoilers in the comments which follow. For the past 18 months I’ve been reacquainting myself with Thomas Hardy’s novels through the medium of audiobooks, starting with Alan Rickman’s excellent narration of The Return of the Native and moving on to listen to Under the Greenwood Tree, The Mayor of Casterbridge and Jude the Obscure. Overall, this has been a very positive experience and I’ve wanted to listen to Tess for a while, albeit with a degree There are mild spoilers in this review and major spoilers in the comments which follow. For the past 18 months I’ve been reacquainting myself with Thomas Hardy’s novels through the medium of audiobooks, starting with Alan Rickman’s excellent narration of The Return of the Native and moving on to listen to Under the Greenwood Tree, The Mayor of Casterbridge and Jude the Obscure. Overall, this has been a very positive experience and I’ve wanted to listen to Tess for a while, albeit with a degree of trepidation born of my past negative reaction to the novel. I’ve spent the past thirty-five years disliking this novel intensely, with Tess Durbeyfield topping my list of literary characters I most want to slap. To me, Tess has always represented a male fantasy victim: beautiful, good and completely helpless, facilitating her victimisation and deserving her fate. When I read the novel in high school at age eighteen and again at university at age twenty, Tess’ passivity drove me nuts. My reaction this time around has been quite different. The novel hasn’t changed, but I obviously have. It may just be that I’ve aged from a young woman of Tess’ age to someone old enough to be her grandmother. I felt frustrated with Tess at times, but I wanted to hug her rather than slap her. Sisterly impatience seems to have been replaced by maternal compassion. Now that my negative reaction to Tess as a character has mellowed, I can more fully appreciate the strengths of the novel. It is a powerful tragedy related in beautiful, descriptive language, full of symbolism. Tess’ fate is inevitable: she is a tragic heroine of Greek or Shakespearean proportions. As a character, she could be criticised for being too beautiful, too good, too perfect. However, Tess has flaws and she makes mistakes which contribute to her fate. Not only is she passive, she is also naïve and proud. At various times in the narrative Hardy points out that if Tess had made a different decision, the outcome would have been different for her. Other strengths of the novel include its devastating critique of the double standard which applied in matters of sexuality morality in Victorian England and its vivid description of the lives of agricultural labourers in a changing world. One thing which holds me back from giving the novel five stars is Hardy’s obsession with Tess’ physical appearance. She’s beautiful – okay - but the constant references to her mouth, her eyes and her hair are excessive. And maybe I can’t quite bring myself to jump from two stars to five stars in one go. Regardless, after all these years of Tess-hating, I have to cut myself a big slice of humble pie. While my youthful reaction to Tess was genuine and, I think, well-founded, it’s interesting to discover – yet again – how the passage of time can alter a response to a literary work. The fact that I listened to an audiobook edition wonderfully narrated by Davina Porter has also helped me to have a more positive reaction to the work. Thank you to Simran, Tracey and Hayes for reading along. And to Jemidar, who was also prepared to hold my hand until her illness got in the way.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Maria Clara

    Leer este libro no es simplemente leer una hermosa historia de amor, no, es mucho más. Es adentrarse en la rígida moral victoriana que imponía sus leyes por encima del ser humano, de su espíritu y de sus deseos. Y Thomas Hardy hace un excelente retrato de esa sociedad en esta narración. En ella, nos muestra a su protagonista, a una dulce e ingenia muchacha, que, contra su voluntad, se convierte en la víctima perfecta de esa doble moral (una de tantas, como muy bien nos recuerda constantemente su Leer este libro no es simplemente leer una hermosa historia de amor, no, es mucho más. Es adentrarse en la rígida moral victoriana que imponía sus leyes por encima del ser humano, de su espíritu y de sus deseos. Y Thomas Hardy hace un excelente retrato de esa sociedad en esta narración. En ella, nos muestra a su protagonista, a una dulce e ingenia muchacha, que, contra su voluntad, se convierte en la víctima perfecta de esa doble moral (una de tantas, como muy bien nos recuerda constantemente su autor) Una víctima que será juzgada ya no por sus acciones, sino por lo que los demás acometen en su persona. De todas maneras, tengo que decir que no he sufrido tanto como esperaba, pues el final casi que era predecible. Además, viendo lo débil que era el amor que sentía Ángel por ella, casi que mejor que haya terminado así.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Andrei Tamaş

    Având ca subtitlu "O femeie inocentă", romanul prezintă, pe un fundal realist (având rigurozitatea aceea specific englezească), drama personajului eponim. Tess este o fire dogmatică, având rădăcini -deşi nu făţişe- în morala de factură creştină. Fiind nevoită să se abată de la calea "normală" pe care ar fi trebuit să o ducă viaţa, Tess este nevoită să abandoneze acest drum şi să înfăptuiască anumite munci pentru a-şi întreţine numeroasa familie din care făcea parte (inclusiv fraţii mai mici). Vâ Având ca subtitlu "O femeie inocentă", romanul prezintă, pe un fundal realist (având rigurozitatea aceea specific englezească), drama personajului eponim. Tess este o fire dogmatică, având rădăcini -deşi nu făţişe- în morala de factură creştină. Fiind nevoită să se abată de la calea "normală" pe care ar fi trebuit să o ducă viaţa, Tess este nevoită să abandoneze acest drum şi să înfăptuiască anumite munci pentru a-şi întreţine numeroasa familie din care făcea parte (inclusiv fraţii mai mici). Vânturile vieţii o poartă, pe rând, în coardele a doi bărbaţi, caracterizaţi în antiteză, însă Tess nu reuşeşte să atingă plenitudinea în dragoste (dragostea este aici proiectată în sens clasic) alături de ei... E destul de greu să faci o analiză migăloasă a romanului (tehnică detaliului semnificativ se impune), însă mi s-au părut sugestive câteva elemente ale operei.Structurarea romanului în şapte părţi (denumite "etape", pentru a sugerea evoluţia protagonistei, ceea ce denotă că romanul are caracterul de Bildungsroman), denumite sugestiv "Fecioria", "Sfârşitul fecioriei", "Întâlnirea", "Urmările", "Ispăşirea", "Căinţa" şi "Săvârşirea". Cum romanul are resurse religioase însemnate, nu întâmplător -se poate spune- numărul etapelor este de şapte, lucru ce trimite cu gândul fie la cele şapte sacramente, la cele şapte păcate capitale din mitologia creştină, fie la acel "de şaptezeci de ori câte şapte" din Evanghelia după Matei. Eu unul tind să optez pentru cea din urmă idee, dat fiind că una dintre ramificaţiile arborelui romanului este constituită de virtutea iertării. O altă secvenţă ce mi s-a părut sugestivă pentru tema romanului (condiţia femeii într-o anumită etapă a istoriei) este aceea a violului. Inocenţa protagonistei şi slăbiciunea sexului frumos sunt evidenţiate aici (în scenă) în antiteză cu Alec d'Urberville, un presupus OM cu un presupus SÂNGE NOBIL (şi la propriu, dar şi la figurat, căci, după cum arată cu certitudine finalul romanului, "d'Urberville"-ul aparţine lui Tess, însă "povestea" numelui este prea amplă pentru a fi redată aici) care adoptă diferite măşti, căzând însă, la un moment dat, pradă instinctului sau animalic -ipostază în care manierismul sau aristocratic e redus la zero. El comite astfel un "păcat" care avea o greutate mult mai mare decât omuciderea în societatea respectivă, în conştiinţa anumitor femei, cu deosebire asupra lui Tess, o fire religioasă, după cum am mai amintit. Într-una dintre diferitele locaţii în care activează ca lăptăreasă, Tess îl întâlneşte pe Angel Clare, un caracter diferit în mod radical faţă de cel al lui Alec. Acesta, deşi de o altă condiţie socială, îi oferă femeii posibilitatea de a iubi şi de a fi salvată. Portretul protagonistei este "pictat" de narator cu minuţiozitate, proiectând astfel un fizic de o nespusă frumuseţe -chiar dacă sună a basm- şi, mai ales, la început, un imaculat portret moral, fapt care -mă gândesc- a şi prilejuit sentimentele lui Angel pentru ea, în ciuda condiţiei sociale la care se ţinea cu rigurozitate în ceea ce priveşte alegerea partenerului. Lucrul poate sugera însă şi caracterul bărbatului, definitivat ulterior ca nobil (în adevăratul sens al cuvântului). În mod paradoxal, într-un punct în care romanul se cam îndepărtează de realism, Alec -bărbatul care o violase- se converteşte, devine preot şi, în cadrul unei "misiuni" ce o ţinea, o întâlneşte din întâmplare pe Tess. Momentul este referenţial, mai ales datorită faptului că personajul masculin din această scenă, Alec, a trecut la antipodul convingerilor morale. Ei! "Căinţă", faptul odată săvârşit fiind, ce însemnătate mai are? Mai mult: în scenă violului (descrisă sumar, din anumite considerenta, dar nu acest lucru are relevanţă, cât ideea în sine), Tess -iar nu Alec- se simte vinovată. În incipit, este o scenă care anticipează destinul tragic al protagonistei: -Ziceai că fiecare stea este câte o altă lume, Tess? -Da. -Şi lumile astea seamănă cu lumea noastră? -Nu ştiu, dar aşa cred. Uneori îmi închipui că sunt ca merele din copacul nostru bogat. Cele mai multe sunt frumoase, dar câteva sunt mănate. -Şi aia în care trăim noi cum e? Frumoasă sau mănată? -Mănată. Moartea protagonistei (care are sensul unei sinucideri morale), o să-mi rămână până la finele vieţii întipărită în minte. Parcă şi acum văd silueta femeii îmbrăcate într-un voal alb în timp ce se depărtează, urmând ca -în fine!- să dispară din cadrul vizual al cititorului... Şi, la urma urmei, "Ce înseamnă un om moral? Sau, mai relevant chiar, ce înseamnă o femeie morală? Frumuseţea sau urâţenia unui caracter nu se află doar în realizările sale, ci şi în scopurile şi pornirile sale. Iar dacă vrei să cunoşti cu adevărat un om, nu-l judecă după faptele sale, ci şi după ce fapte ar fi dorit să facă." Protagonista lui Thomas Hardy -Tess d'Urberville- devine astfel un mit: victima luptei cu propria conştiinţa. Apendice: dacă aş fi fost dictator, aş fi impus studierea romanului în cauza în şcoli, iar lecţia dedusă să fie de-a dreptul un examen al maturităţii pentru orice femeie. Astăzi... mai mult ca oricând. Andrei Tamaş, 21 martie 2016

  29. 4 out of 5

    K.D. Absolutely

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This review has many spoilers, not only about this book but all those classic works with prominent female protagonists. So, read at your own risk. So far, I've read Dickens, Woolf, Stoker, Austen, Hawthorne, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Flaubert, Voltaire, Walpole, Radcliffe, Stevenson, James, Hugo and the Brontes. However, for unknown reason, I have been ignoring Hardy along with some of the other masters. Until my friend suggested that we read this. And oh boy, if only I knew that Hardy was this good, This review has many spoilers, not only about this book but all those classic works with prominent female protagonists. So, read at your own risk. So far, I've read Dickens, Woolf, Stoker, Austen, Hawthorne, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Flaubert, Voltaire, Walpole, Radcliffe, Stevenson, James, Hugo and the Brontes. However, for unknown reason, I have been ignoring Hardy along with some of the other masters. Until my friend suggested that we read this. And oh boy, if only I knew that Hardy was this good, I would have definitely read him ahead of most of the ones I read already! Written by Thomas Hardy (1840-1928), Tess of the d’Ubervilles (1891) tells the story of another strong female classic literary fictional character: Tess Durbeyfield who kills her husband who has made her life miserable and continues to torment her. Hardy defiled the convention of the British society during that time by bravely writing this novel that questions the logic of noble heritage and social prejudice. She is pretty. She is hot. She is put in a situation when her beauty becomes her liability rather than asset. The highly discriminating British society with its rigid moral codes during that time is the perfect backdrop. Tess is the victim of that time. Had she been born now, people would have loved her and she could even be the most popular actress in the showbiz industry. Tess Durbeyfield joined the roster of the ten strong female characters that I have so far read in classic literature. Please, I said classic so don’t expect to see Katniss Everdeen, Hermione Granger and Bella Swan. Here are they arranged in chronological order: (1) Elinor Dashwood – places interest and welfare of her family before her own in Sense and Sensibility (1811) by Jane Austen (1775-1817). Unfortunately, I did not see the same self-sacrificing attitude from Austen’s other famous heroines: Elizabeth Bennett in Pride and Prejudice and Emma Woodhouse of Emma. (2) Catherine Earnshaw - fights for Heathcliff when he is being bullied by her brother Hindley. She lets go of her love to surrender to culture in one of my Top 10 Favorite Novels of all times, Wuthering Heights (1845) by Emily Bronte (1818-1848). (3) Jane Eyre - she shuns the good looking cousin and goes back to her invalid Rochester even if that means she will take care of him for the rest of her life in Jane Eyre (1847) by Charlotte Bronte (1816-1855). (4) Mrs. Helen Graham – slams the door while leaving her alcoholic husband to live alone with her child in a faraway estate in The Tenant of the Wildfell Hall (1848) by Anne Bronte (1820-1849). Oh my God, who could forget (5) Hester Prynne played by the then luscious Demi Moore? – who bears the stigma of having a child without a father in The Scarlet Letter (1850) by Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864). Even if you hate her, there is a strength in the character of (6) Madame Bovary - who killed herself by poisoning as she is deep in debt and ditched by her lover and she does not feel anything anymore for her boring husband in Madame Bovary (1856) by Gustave Flaubert (1821-1880). One of my best reads in 2011. Then of course (7) Anna Karenina – who follows her heart, deserted her husband and child and elopes with her lover. In the final act of surrender, similar to that of Madame Bovary, she kills herself but this time she is more daring. She jumps in front of the speeding train! This is in Anna Karenina (1873) by Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910) that is said to be the perfect written novel of all times. (8) Isabel Archer – probably goes back in the end to her spiteful husband because of her love for his husband’s child in The Portrait of the Lady (1881) by Henry James (1843-1916). She may not have done any big heroic deed but the strength of her character is consistent throughout the story. (9) Tess Durbeyfield - isn't she the prettiest? There is a scene in the book where she is burying her dead child and it is really heartbreaking. That final scene when she has to stand up for her happiness is just breathtaking. Hardy joined the game (of having a strong female character defying the societal rules) quite late in the game, though. That’s why this is in the 9th place. Austen, the Bronte sisters, Hawthorne, Flaubert, Tolstoy and James were there first. And for the last slot, to illustrate the evolving change in the feminist literature, seemingly, when the 20th century came, there was also a shift from the double-standard or social-prejudice issue to the racial issue. So, my 10th place goes for (10) Jane Mae Crawford – like Rosa Parks, she is a black woman who defied characterizations and racial stereotyping in Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937) by Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960). I just thought that the issue of having women subservient to men especially because of social status or of women ostracized by the society because she has a child born out of wedlock is already a non-issue in most societies. What needs to be resolved still is the issues on discrimination emanating from religion, race, financial status, age, gender or even sexual preference. But... there has to be a Filipina in this list. Well, my favorite line in the book is this: ” “My poor poor Tess, my dearest darling Tess! So sweet, so good, so true!” This line was uttered by the British old man in Sharon Cuneta’s comeback movie in 2008, Caregiver. This was actually the reason why I decided to pick up and finally read this book because there was a scene in the movie when the old British sick man is castigating Sharon for holding his first edition of this Thomas Hardy book Tess of the d’Ubervilles. So, the next time that Sharon picks up the book to read to the British fool, she is wearing a pair of rubber gloves. Wow, I said. Imagine reading a book wearing rubber gloves! How important and how good is this Tess book? Well, that question has been answered. The book is important because it shows once again, after many, many years the importance of women in the society. How good is this book? Very, very good!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Yani

    -Todo esto ocurre por haber nacido en un astro picado y no en uno sano, ¿verdad, Tess? Qué buen libro y qué buen final. Temía un poco perderme en la fama que tenía y decepcionarme, pero en la lectura me di cuenta de que la atención puesta en este libro no es gratuita. Tess of the d’Urbervilles: A Pure Woman Faithfully Presented (título original) habla, muestra, protesta. No creo que Hardy haya sido tan inocente como para no hacerlo adrede y eso se nota en sus prefacios. Imposible no tratar d -Todo esto ocurre por haber nacido en un astro picado y no en uno sano, ¿verdad, Tess? Qué buen libro y qué buen final. Temía un poco perderme en la fama que tenía y decepcionarme, pero en la lectura me di cuenta de que la atención puesta en este libro no es gratuita. Tess of the d’Urbervilles: A Pure Woman Faithfully Presented (título original) habla, muestra, protesta. No creo que Hardy haya sido tan inocente como para no hacerlo adrede y eso se nota en sus prefacios. Imposible no tratar de decir algo de una época tan acartonada e hipócrita como la victoriana. La historia es, desde el principio, muy desgraciada y hay un hecho bisagra (que sucede en los primeros capítulos) que está en casi todas las sinopsis. Me veo en la encrucijada de contarlo o no, pero en todo caso lo oculto como spoiler. Tess Durbeyfield es una joven muy hermosa, hija de un vendedor de colmenas que de la noche a la mañana se entera de que él y sus hijos son el último eslabón de una familia muy antigua, los d’ Urberville. El padre de Tess se pone loco de contento y empieza a proclamar por todo el lugar (esto transcurre en el sur de Gran Bretaña, si no me ubiqué mal en el mapa, en lugares cuyos nombres el autor reelaboró) que es descendiente de caballeros. Ahora bien, parece que alguien más ha adoptado la forma original del apellido en la región y cuando se produce un momento de necesidad económica (los Durbeyfield son pobres) la envían a Tess a pedir limosna, básicamente. Y, si es posible, que se case con el joven de la familia. El acontecimiento que marca todo el resto del libro y no se puede obviar del todo es que (view spoiler)[ el joven Alec d’ Urberville se obsesiona con Tess y abusa de ella mientras estaba dormida en el bosque. Por supuesto, él lo va a negar y a decir que tuvo su consentimiento, cuando en realidad Tess no sabía ni lo que estaba haciendo, gracias a la ignorancia a la que los padres sometían a sus hijas en lo tocante al tema. (hide spoiler)] Esto pondrá en duda, por la consecuencia que trae, qué tan pura es Tess. Porque a ella nadie le preguntará qué pasó y si se siente bien, no, no. Ni su madre (una bestia) lo hará. A Tess la señalarán con el dedo y murmurarán detrás de sus espaldas, no importa si se quiebra el cuerpo trabajando y trata de ganarse el sustento. Entonces Tess tendrá que buscar un rumbo nuevo e irse de la casa paterna. Previamente, habrá un cruce con un personaje importante de la historia, Angel. Cuento todo esto porque, más allá de que el libro sea literariamente bueno, creo que la historia merece un foco aparte. Hardy lleva al lector a dar un paseo (no siempre grato) por el campo. La ciudad siempre es algo lejano, un lugar de rebote, no de paso. A la ciudad se va para viajar hacia otra parte, al campo se va a vivir experiencias. Las descripciones en tercera persona de los trabajos rurales son muy buenas (y supongo que acertadas, porque admito que no busqué el proceso de elaboración de la manteca en esos tiempos, por ejemplo) y demuestran el poder de observación y de compromiso del escritor, quien, al parecer, tenía ciertos problemas con la industrialización. Pone a prueba a la gente, porque los términos que utiliza no son los que una acostumbra a cruzarse en los libros, ya que la labor en la lechería tiene sus términos específicos, al igual que las demás. En ese momento la lectura se entrecorta un poco. El único tramo en donde sentí que el libro se hacía lento fue durante la cuarta y la quinta parte, porque hay algunos hechos que se alargan innecesariamente y esto, acompañado de las descripciones de Hardy, me causó cierto malestar. Otra cosa que fue difícil de seguir porque era omnipresente: la religión. En este libro coexisten personajes con creencias pertenecientes a distintas iglesias. No recuerdo si hay algún capítulo en donde no se mencione algo de eso. Me parece que existe cierta crítica de Hardy en algunas frases, sobre todo porque ninguna de las religiones es capaz de albergar a Tess, que tiene una confusión tremenda en cuanto eso. Supongo que pensar esto hace que haya alguna utilidad en toda esa parafernalia de credos y mucho más en una población rural, pero en un punto me agotó. (view spoiler)[ De más está decir que nunca creí en la conversión de Alec en un predicador, cosa que no le dura mucho porque él mismo se encarga de volver a los vicios. Es una de las ironías del destino de las mujeres: Alec encuentra consuelo en la religión, Tess no. (hide spoiler)] En cuanto a los personajes, todos poseen sus luces y sus sombras. Hardy los matizó maravillosamente bien porque en algunas situaciones una duda de ellos, de su verdadera personalidad. Las reacciones que cada uno de ellos tiene ante el pasado de Tess sirven como vara para medir, por ejemplo. Y más de uno causa una decepción, ya que se espera más compasión por la protagonista. Tess me cayó bien como heroína porque toma decisiones pero es exasperante cuando no piensa por sí misma. Está atravesada (y me juego a que está hecha así a propósito) por las creencias de los demás, por los pensamientos ajenos, por los tiempos ajenos. Piensa que su condición la limita y no tiene otra opción que agachar la cabeza y dejarse manipular. Como ya dije, el siglo XIX se encargó de destrozar a las mujeres con su paradigma moral insostenible y disparejo y el desinterés por verlas más allá del rol de esposa, madre y cosa (sí, ser una cosa sigue siendo un rol). (view spoiler)[ Es muy impresionante la parte en la que Tess se “afea” porque advierte que su principal problema es ser hermosa y llamar la atención de hombres a los cuales ella no les pide ninguna opinión. (hide spoiler)] La ingenuidad y la desesperación por ser aceptada la llevan a cometer un error muy grande y pierde lo que más quiere por eso. Tess es arrastrada por las circunstancias, a fin de cuentas. Los demás protagonistas, como Angel, el desagradable Alec, los padres de Tess (aunque estos aparecen menos) y las nada rencorosas Izz y Marian, contribuyen a elaborar el destino de Tess. El final es inesperado pero el libro da pistas y hay que prestar atención. Hardy plantea un dilema y, aunque se evidencia que está de parte de Tess, el narrador trata de tomar distancia del asunto y está bien. Pienso que, de haber ocurrido eso en el principio, el curso de la historia hubiera sido el mismo, así que está puesto estratégicamente para que impacte y cierre el libro. No sé si seré muy exagerada al decir que Tess me pareció uno de los mejores libros escritos durante la época victoriana. Hay muchos y tal vez en un punto todos se asemejan, por eso me atrevo a decirlo. Y creo que la protagonista sufrida y desesperada, en este caso, toma un riesgo que no vi que lo tomaran otras. Me quedo con la sensación de que Tess logró cubrir mis expectativas con sólo contarme la historia de una mujer desdichada, víctima de su entorno íntimo y del contexto social. Reseña en Clásico desorden

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