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Tess of the D'Urbervilles (Penguin Classics) [Paperback]

Thomas Hardy , Tim Dolin , Margaret Randolph Higonnet
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (623 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 27, 2003 0141439599 978-0141439594 1
The chance discovery by a young peasant woman that she is a descendant of the noble family of d'Urbervilles is to change the course of her life. Tess Durbeyfield leaves home on the first of her fateful journeys, and meets the ruthless Alec d'Urberville. Thomas Hardy's impassioned story tells of hope and disappointment, rejection and enduring love.

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Tess of the D'Urbervilles (Penguin Classics) + Middlemarch (Penguin Classics)
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Anna Bentinck ratchets up the melodrama for this full-blooded reading of Hardy's classic—a staple of high-school English classes everywhere. Students desperate to penetrate Hardy's notoriously slow masterpiece should turn to Bentinck, who gives it an intense emotional coloring. She makes Hardy sound like a brother to the Brontë sisters: passionate and brooding. Bentinck alternates between a crisp, precise narrative voice that sounds like Helen Mirren, and Tess's own voice, quavering, shallow and meek. Bentinck retains her composure throughout, and her assured performance may be a welcome rescue for struggling 11th graders across the country. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

From Library Journal

This edition of the Hardy classic includes a complete authoritative text plus biographical and historical contexts, critical history, essays by five scholars, and a glossary. A fine scholarly edition for the academic crowd.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Addison Wesley; 1 edition (May 27, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141439599
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141439594
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 1 x 5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (623 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #415,344 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
391 of 417 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars certainly one of the greatest novels ever written September 23, 2003
Format:Paperback
I was looking for another edition of TESS and couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the "average customer rating" was only three stars. So I'm taking a moment to correct the balance.
TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES must be as close to a perfect novel as anyone has written in English. It is a genuine tragedy with a girl/woman as tragic hero. It is about life on earth in a way that transcends mere sociology. It has the grandeur of Milton but concerns itself with the lives of mortal beings on earth, as much with sex as with dirt, blood, milk, dung, animal and vegetative energies. It concerns itself with only essential things the way the Bible does. It is almost a dark rendering of the Beatitudes.
The story is built with such care and such genius that every incident, every paragraph, reverberates throughout the whole structure. Surely Hardy had an angel on his shoulder when he conceived and composed this work. Yet it was considered so immoral in its time that he had to bowdlerize his own creation in order to get it published, at first. Victorian readers were not prepared for the truth of the lives of ordinary women, or for a great many truths about themselves that Hardy presents.
The use of British history as a hall of mirrors and the jawdropping detail of the landscape of "Wessex" make it the Great English Novel in the way we sometimes refer to MOBY DICK as the Great American Novel, though the works don't otherwise bear comparison. Melville's great white whale is a far punier creation.
Hardy's style is like no one else's. It is not snappy, as Dickens can be. It is not fluid and elegant, like George Eliot's. It can feel labored and awkward and more archaic than either.
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100 of 105 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Brilliant June 29, 2001
Format:Hardcover
Thomas Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbervilles is one of the best stories I've ever read. Its characters, especially Tess herself, are so alive and memorable that they stay in your mind long after you've finished the book. That being said, though, it's also not a novel for the casual reader. This book is so thought-provoking and, ultimately, heartbraking that it can't be easily forgotten, and will more than likely leave you with an overwhelming sadness for a long time afterward. I read a lot, and material with very different subject matters, so I'm not being melodramatic when I say that this book left me extremely choked up, and almost on the verge of tears. For a guy in his mid-20's who never gets emotional, I think that's saying quite a lot. It certainly left me with a lot of respect for the author. The reader comes to care so much about Tess, and agonize over the way her life turns out, that it becomes almost unbearable at times. For a fictional tale to have that effect on a person is quite incredible. Difficult or not, anyone who is interested in reading a brilliant and moving story that deserves to be called a classic should read Tess of the D'Urbervilles.
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110 of 119 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Compellingly sad November 29, 2004
Format:Paperback
Recently, my brother and I were discussing the "poverty penalty," the concept that the poor pay more for what they must buy because they have no bargaining power to invite competition, which drives down prices. This is obviously not a new phenomenon, because poor Tess Durbeyfield pays quite a poverty penalty through the course of Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy.

This is the first novel of Hardy's I have read, but I chose it after reading "What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew" by Daniel Pool, a fabulous book about 18th century daily life.

Hardy's title, as quickly becomes evident, is tongue-in-cheek (he is author of my favorite title of a book, Jude the Obscure, which I haven't yet read) is ironic and mocking. Tess, the lovely and somewhat educated daughter of a cottager in Hardy's British district of Wessex, has the last name of Durbeyfield, but in the first pages of the book, her father, the ne'er-do-well, learns that he is descended from Norman aristocracy, the D'Urbervilles, and there aren't many of them left, except his clan, as the local reverend informs him. He instantly thinks himself very grand and takes it as an excuse to go carousing, which causes Tess and one of her many younger siblings to have to make an early morning journey with the horse for the family's means of making money. Sleeping on the journey, Tess wakes to find the horse impaled in a wreck and killed. Feeling guilty, she agrees to be sent as a poor relation to the Stoke-D'Urbervilles to seek assistance of some kind. (They are "new money" and have bought the name "D'Urberville" to build position for themselves, so they are actually no relation.)

There she encounters Alec D'Urberville, who pursues her vigorously, though she repeatedly eschews his attentions.
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48 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Most Extraordinary Novels Ever July 23, 2003
By mp
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Despite its seemingly needless tragedy, its persistently downbeat tone, and its relentlessly persecuted heroine, Thomas Hardy's 1891 novel, "Tess of the D'Urbervilles," is without doubt one of the greatest novels I have ever read. And I have read a few. Tess is the only truly well-developed character in the novel, which, coupled with the fact that Hardy renders the landscape of Wessex as to make it a character itself, gives one the sense of a real struggle between humanity and nature. This, for me, is one of the great themes of the novel - the tension between nature and the artifices with which we fill our relations with other people. The beauty of Hardy's pastoral setting is never idyllic - Hardy keeps us always aware that human society, with its false moral standards and technological advancements, is ever encroaching upon the already vanished past.
As the novel begins, Tess Durbeyfield's irresponsible wastrel of a father is casually and jokingly informed by the local minister that he is a descendant of a long-degenerated and disenfranchised noble family, the D'Urbervilles, whose influence stretches back to the Norman invasion. This simple, careless act, nothing more than a name, wreaks such havoc upon everyone in the novel, that I'm actually having a hard time right now even looking at the title - the name itself, now having read the novel, is such a powerful condemnation of status, of privilege, of reputation, of all the injustices of English society from the eighteenth century through the time of this novel, almost the dawn of the twentieth. Sent by her nearly indigent parents, whose heads have swelled with the possibilities of lineage, Tess leaves her home in Marlott, going to claim kinship with the last apparently wealthy D'Urberville, in the village of Trantridge.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Tess
Such a sad, but beautiful story.
Published 11 hours ago by amanda
4.0 out of 5 stars Reread Disturbing Classic
Reread this book and found myself just as intrigued and horrified as the first time. The abuse poor Tess suffered because of her lineage and gender. Read more
Published 1 day ago by Heather
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
I DONT CARE ABOUT THE BRITS !
Published 1 day ago by sharon b
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful book!
I've read lots of Thomas Hardy, and somehow left this book for last. I should have read it sooner. Not to give too much away, every woman alive in the western world should read... Read more
Published 4 days ago by Ronald L. Vaughn
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
Didn't enjoy it
Published 7 days ago by tartan
4.0 out of 5 stars This Book book brought a new world to my mind.
This book is a little difficult to read for a non-native speaker like me. the old English language was exciting to research. Read more
Published 9 days ago by A. Yee
3.0 out of 5 stars Good book but too depressing
My 2 stars were originally given based on my memory of reading Tess for 10th grade English. I decided that since I was only 15 at the time I probably missed the nuances of the... Read more
Published 11 days ago by Lisa Blondin
4.0 out of 5 stars Tess D'Urberville by Thomas hardy
i have read many classics in my youth, but never had the chance to read any f Thomas Hardy work.I have heard the name before, and saw a movie based on one of Thomas Hardy's books. Read more
Published 11 days ago by Nurit Amit
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliantly written, epic tale of love and loss
An eloquent tale full of hopes, some fulfilled and many crushed. Beautiful and tragic, a story that transcends time and place.
Published 15 days ago by Korin Okamura
5.0 out of 5 stars Hardy at his best
I bought the Audio version delivered to my kindle. Beautifully written as only Hardy can. Beautifully narrated. I highly recommend it. A great read!
Published 17 days ago by Karen de Verteuil
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Why why why why why (spoilers)
Angel is a hypocritical, arrogant jerk. There's no way this novel could have had a happy ending with so few options for the heroine. How can you want her to end up with Angel when he had a premarital affair himself, but then abandoned her when he learned that she had had the same? And... Read More
Jun 17, 2008 by D. Huang |  See all 5 posts
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