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Tess of the D'Urbervilles (Dover Thrift Editions) Paperback – June 14, 2001

ISBN-13: 978-0486415895 ISBN-10: 0486415899 Edition: 1st

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

The ne'er-do-well sire of a starving brood suddenly discovers a family connection to the aristocracy, and his selfish scheme to capitalize on their wealth sets a fateful plot in motion. Jack Durbeyfield dispatches his gentle daughter Tess to the home of their noble kin, anticipating a lucrative match between the lovely girl and a titled cousin. Innocent Tess finds the path of the d'Urberville estate paved with ruin in this gripping tale of the inevitability of fate and the tragic nature of existence.
Subtitled A Pure Woman Faithfully Presented, Thomas Hardy's sympathetic portrait of a blameless young woman's destruction first appeared in 1891. Its powerful indictment of Victorian hypocrisy, along with its unconventional focus on the rural lower class and its direct treatment of sexuality and religion, raised a ferocious public outcry. Tess of the D'Ubervilles is Hardy's penultimate novel; the pressures of critical infamy shortly afterward drove the author to abandon the genre in favor of poetry. Like his fictional heroine, the artist fell victim to a rigidly oppressive moral code.
Today, Tess is regarded as Hardy's masterpiece, embodying all of the most profoundly moving elements of its creator's dark vision. No perspective on 19th-century fiction is complete without a consideration of this compelling tale, now available in an inexpensive and high-quality edition.

About the Author

Tragedy haunts the works of Thomas Hardy (1840–1928), whose fiction abounds in star-crossed lovers and other characters thwarted by fate or their own shortcomings. Hardy's outspoken criticism of Victorian society excited such profound controversy that the author abandoned fiction and in the 20th century published only poetry.


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Product Details

  • Series: Dover Thrift Editions
  • Paperback: 321 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications; 1 edition (June 14, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486415899
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486415895
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,048 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

"Tess" is a pretty pleasing book to read if you manage to ignore or at least discount the plot.
This book is sad...yes, but Thomas Hardy's poetic prose litterally makes the insides of the reader do summersaults.
Tracy L. Graham
The mistakes that even very good, well-meaning people can make, without realizing it, that hurt others deeply.
Shane Turner

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 30 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 17, 2003
Format: Paperback
This book has touched me in a very different way than many others have. It is a tragic story and envelopes the reader in a different kind of sadness - a sadness which one cannot pull out of quickly or just draw aside. Many thoughts contained in this book are worthy of reflection. Each lingers in your heart. The happy moments are all tinged with a bitter taste. Each character is flawed as a natural human being and each mistake they make reflects on their future and affects them drastically. Tess Durbeyfield is one of the most tragic characters I have ever read of. From the moment she leaves her home to the supposed D'Urberville relatives, she is pushed into catastrophes and heartaches that just lead to more doom. I recommend this book to any reader who is willing to undergo the myriad of emotions that accompanies Tess's journey through demise. It is not for the flippant, unconcerned, and unsympathetic reader. Everything that happens to Tess happens for a reason, and the reader must be able to realize how each affects her to appreciate this book. Read this book and expect to ponder on many philosophical wonderings. This book WILL affect you! It is worthy of any person seeking a deep and life-affecting novel.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By E. Moeckel on September 2, 2008
Format: Paperback
Bleak and depressing, as far as the plot is concerned it's sort of like Hardy was experimenting with how many terrible things he could make happen to a trusting, wonderful person, until she's finally crushed under the weight of the world and her society. Really makes you feel awful to read it, honestly, but that's ok because the writing is beautiful and the structure is flawless. There are moments of pure poetry on a Shakespearean level, that make you want to weep for all humanity. The characters, especially Tess, are very believable, and the psychology effecting their decisions is what drives the story, for me. I'm impressed, I'm going to read more Hardy. I've looked around and it seems like most of his books are similar - a great set-up to a disaster, all the while people's hearts being ripped out of their chests and their hopes and dreams crushed one after another by a cruel world and cruel circumstances. He obviously had a pretty tragic and pessimistic view of our human situation, but a view that must have filled him with sympathy. He really goes into his characters' heads and makes you feel their pain through it all, going through the stages of their grief, with really amazing descriptions that feel dead on. Or at least that's what he did in this book.

Also, it's pretty amazing that he blatantly pointed out the sexual double standards of his time and their utter hipocrysy. It's so crazy that people in Hardy's day were outraged after the publication of this book by the subtitle, "A Pure Woman," because Tess was raped. When you keep in mind how firmly these ideas of purity and female sexuality were implanted in people's minds, it makes the plot completely believable.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Slokes VINE VOICE on June 27, 2012
Format: Paperback
When is pain the necessary entry price for involving oneself in great fiction, and when is it simply something you might call "author abuse"? I believe the tipping place can be found somewhere in the pages of Thomas Hardy's most famous novel.

In it, we meet young Tess Durbeyfield, a simple English farm girl who struggles to make it through everyday life. Her father, convinced he's the rightful heir of an extinct family of Norman nobles, the D'Urbervilles, is a shiftless layabout who drinks and lets his numerous children do his chores. The family starves quite pitifully until fate puts in the first of several appearances. Tess meets a rich young bravo who goes by the D'Urberville name and decides to merge his bloodline with that of Tess, no matter what she thinks about that.

Alec D'Urberville is one of two men whose attentions cause Tess much heartache and make up the substance of the book. Actually, there are three such men if you count Hardy, which I pretty much do. Alec is a right cad and Angel Clare, the other man, manages the impressive feat of being much worse, but neither lays for Tess the snares Hardy does, of horrible coincidences, contrived reverses in character, and way too much tolerance for ill treatment. There's even a letter-swallowing carpet. Man, I hate when carpets do that!

When Hardy isn't pounding poor Tess into the ground, he's doing the same to us, pointing out how Tess in her misery represents the nullity of our common existence. "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 an illusion," he writes. "She was not an existence, an experience, a passion, a structure of sensations, to anyone but herself."

If only!

Here's the rub.
Read more ›
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Patrick on October 9, 2013
Format: Paperback
As a former English major, I never had the opportunity to read Hardy. So, when I read that Hardy was one of Jhumpa Lahiri's favorite authors (and JL is one of MY favorites), I decided to read my first Hardy novel. I'm not sure why I selected "Tess" over some of Hardy's more celebrated works, but once I started I was hooked. As others have stated, it's terribly sad and tragic (as literature of this period can be), but I didn't find that to be a problem. And, even though it was a bit daunting to read a "classic" without the assistance and discipline of a classroom and teacher (pop quizzes!), the prose, while beautiful and dense, was fluid and easy to follow (there are some antiquated terms and jargon, but that's what Google is for). I will now watch the Polanski film, which I hear is just as great. If you're looking for a classic that will truly speak to the time it was written, which speaks to the social conventions of Victorian England and the role (oppression) of poor women in that time, you can't do better. I was never bored, but I really focused and plowed through. You won't regret it.
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