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|Socially critical and emotionally complex, Tess of the DUrbervilles is Hardys masterpiece. It tells the story of Tess Durbeyfield, forced by her familys poverty to claim kinship with the wealthy DUrbervilles. Violated by the son Alec; her hopes of rebuilding her life with the gentle and bookish Angel Clare founder when he learns of her past. Set among the lush pastures and bleak uplands of Hardys imagined Wessex, and filled with unforgettable images of tenderness and tragedy, the story examines conventional morality through Tess herself: one of the best-loved characters in English literature. Sensitively read by Imogen Stubbs.|
Born in Dorset, Thomas Hardy wrote about his native region all his life, calling it "Wessex" in his novels. Hardy was apprenticed to an architect at 15, but began to write novels in his spare time when he was in his 20s. His first novel was rejected by George Meredith, a reader for the publisher he sent it to, but he was considered promising, and Meredith encouraged him to try again. Hardy, who had also been writing poetry, gave it up temporarily for fiction, and his first novel was published three years later. He abandoned architecture for the life of a writer, producing a series of masterpieces that ended with "Jude the Obscure" in 1896. That novel's frankness and unsparing bleakness met with such a hostile reception that Hardy returned to writing poetry, which he continued to produce until the end of his life. His novels are strongly determinist, demonstrating the ways in which the forces of nature shape human existence: People are at the mercy of their passions; fate and chance rule their lives, and the only heroic path is endurance. His poetry contains similar themes, and all of his work is permeated with a melancholy that often turns to tragedy.