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The Return of the Native (Modern Library Classics) Paperback – February 13, 2001

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Editorial Reviews


"This is the quality Hardy shares with the great writers...this setting behind the small action the terrific action of unfathomed nature."
--D. H. Lawrence

From the Inside Flap

One of Thomas Hardy's most powerful works, The Return of the Native centers famously on Egdon Heath, the wild, haunted Wessex moor that D. H. Lawrence called "the real stuff of tragedy." The heath's changing face mirrors the fortunes of the farmers, inn-keepers, sons, mothers, and lovers who populate the novel. The "native" is Clym Yeobright, who comes home from a cosmopolitan life in Paris. He; his cousin Thomasin; her fiancé, Damon Wildeve; and the willful Eustacia Vye are the protagonists in a tale of doomed love, passion, alienation, and melancholy as Hardy brilliantly explores that theme so familiar throughout his fiction: the diabolical role of chance in determining the course of a life.

As Alexander Theroux asserts in his Introduction, Hardy was "committed to the deep expression of [nature's] ironic chaos and strange apathy, even hostility, toward man."

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Product Details

  • Series: Modern Library Classics
  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Modern Library; Modern Library edition (February 13, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 037575718X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375757181
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #893,812 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 35 people found the following review helpful By A.J. on February 24, 2003
Format: Paperback
There are two and a half sets of lovers in Thomas Hardy's "The Return of the Native," which, if your math is correct and your idea of the number of lovers in a set concurs with mine, makes five people. Romance, deceit, misunderstanding, and misfortune affect their destinies, and those to whom the novel is cruelest come to tragic ends because they refuse to forgive themselves or others for mistakes.
The central tragic figure is Eustacia Vye, a young woman who has come to live on Egdon Heath with her cantankerous grandfather. Despising the dreariness of the heath and generally secluding herself from the local populace, she is somewhat of an outsider and not well liked by some in the community. She was in love with Damon Wildeve, a former engineer who now owns an inn and is not too happy about it; but their affair has since cooled and Wildeve has turned his attention to a girl named Thomasin Yeobright. Wildeve and Thomasin's wedding is aborted when the marriage license turns out to be invalid, and Thomasin, running home to her aunt in shame and anger, is caught on the rebound by Diggory Venn, her long-time admirer. A word about Venn's profession is in order: He is a "reddleman," who, not unlike the ice cream man in the summertime, rides around the heath in a van selling a strange product that shades its vendor most memorably.
Completing the quintet is Thomasin's cousin Clym Yeobright, an Egdon Heath native who is returning permanently after living for some time in Paris as a diamond merchant. Destiny eventually unites Clym and Eustacia in love, but Clym's mother does not approve of the union; she doesn't like Eustacia, and she fears their being married would prevent or discourage Clym from returning to his lucrative career in Paris.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 20, 2001
Format: Paperback
Egdon Heath is the wild and hostile environment in which Hardy's tale of love and loss takes place. The setting of the novel is inescapable and its influence so strong that the heath is almost a character in itself. The action of the novel focusses around three men and three women; Clym Yeobright, Diggory Venn and Damon Wildeve and Mrs Yeobright (Clym's mother), her niece Thomasin whom she has adopted and Eustacia Vye. The other charcters in the novel are the heath people who form a greek chorus to the novel and are occasionally used as instigators of the action. The main theme of the novel is doomed love and the way in which the characters are unable to escape their destiny. It is also interesting to note that the ending to the novel was not the one Hardy inteneded, he had intended to end it after the scene by Shadwater weir. However, his publishers demanded a more positive ending and one which I feel slightly undermines the power of the novel. Most editions have a footnote at the point where Hardy had intended to finish, allowing readers to choose which ever ending they prefer.
Hardy's characterisation is highly realistic in that the boundaries between 'good' and 'bad' characters are somewhat fluid. He also explores the idea of the 'fatal flaw' and how people inevitably destroy themselves and those they hold most dear. If you're looking for a 'feel-good' novel this is not the one to go for but if you enjoy enjoy novels like Wuthering Heights and Tess of the Durbervilles then place your order now...
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful By L. Dann on May 20, 2002
Format: Paperback
I didn't pay attention to much in high school but this book, and the tools by which to grasp it, has stayed with me through a lifetime. The heath and the people who were more of it than of the world, has remained vivid and powerfully romantic to keep me coming back to Hardy and other English authors of the 19th and early 20th centuries. The result has been part of the greatest joys in a life of reading.
Eustacia Vye is a magnificent heroine, and her power, ardor and ultimate destiny as perhaps in excess of the more common neighbors is intense and pagan and unforgettable. The heath is a pre-christian place, remote not only from civilization but from all that is ordinary. In a small country, with massive social rules, the heath is alive and in posession of a soul. They keep the ancient traditions of festivals and bonfires, the people even speak their own language. The book has enhanced battles with the elements that seem to be offended and punishing ill-fated love. No one who reads this book will forget the red man, seeming to be a favorite of those pagan gods.
This is a romance that is eternal. Read it again, or read it with an inner openness and it will repay your time and soul.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on August 2, 2005
Format: Paperback
The Return of the Native is one of the finest English novels ever written and one of the "Big 5" written by the great Thomas Hardy (1840-1928). The Big 5, the best novels by Thomas Hardy are Far From the Madding Crowd (1874), The Return of the Native (1878), The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886), Tess of the d'Urbervilles (1891), and Jude the Obscure (1895).

The Return of the Native is set in Hardy's "playground" Wessex. It takes place in Egdon Heath, which is in South Wessex. The rural setting really gives great character to this tragic love story, adding a bleak desolate feel to it. Most say that Egdon Heath could be considered one of the characters since it is the witness to the tale.

It features the "love triangle" like in Far From the Madding Crowd. The main characters are Eustacia Vye, the depressed and complicated woman who hates Egdon Heath and wishes to find a lover who will take her to France or anywhere from Egdon Heath, Damon Wildeve, one of Eustacia's lovers who is kind of a pimp and cheats on Eustacia, only to regret it, Thomasin Yeobright, Damon's other lover, who is a naive woman, and Clement "Clym" Yeobright, the "Native," who returns from Paris and falls in love with Eustacia.

That's about all I can tell you without revealing too much. This novel is one of the greatest ever written and really proves why they called Thomas Hardy the "Shakespeare of the English novel.
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