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This critical edition of Thomas Hardy''s widely taught 1891 British Victorian novel reprints the authoritative second impression of the 1920 Wessex edition together with critical essays that approach the work from 5 contemporary critical perspectives and highly praised editorial apparatus that introduces students to the novel and the perspectives.
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.
From the Publisher
02 This critical edition of Thomas Hardy's widely taught 1891 British Victorian novel reprints the authoritative second impression of the 1920 Wessex edition together with critical essays that approach the work from 5 contemporary critical perspectives and highly praised editorial apparatus that introduces students to the novel and the perspectives.
Because of its sexual frankness and indictment of Victorian hypocrisy, Hardy's novel was considered shocking when it was published in 1891. It is the tale of Tess Durbeyfield, a young country girl whose rape by Alec D'Urberville, a distant aristocratic relative, leads to pregnancy. Tess's baby dies, and she finds work as a dairymaid at a farm where no one knows her story. From that point, her life, which includes marriage with a man, Angel Clare, who fails to realize her worth, enters a downward spiral, culminating in the sensational tragedy that is at the heart of the book. The cynical and sophisticated Alec's seduction of a country girl, and the self-righteous Angel's destructive idealization of her, can be seen as symbols of the city's ruthless exploitation of the English countryside--a common theme in Hardy's fiction. His compassionate portrait of a young countrywoman was also characteristic of his writing, which never failed to champion the cause of rural lives and values against those of the corrupting city.