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The Return of the Native (Penguin Classics) Paperback – August 1, 1999

4.5 out of 5 stars 113 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"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 Publisher

This fine novel sets in opposition two of Thomas Hardy's most unforgettable creations: his heroine, the sensuous, free-spirited Eustacia Vye, and the solemn, majestic stretch of upland in Dorsetshire he called Egdon Heath. The famous opening reveals the haunting power of that dark, forbidding moon where proud Eustacia fervently awaits a clandestine meeting with her lover, Damon Wildeve. But Eustacia's dreams of escape are not to be realized--neither Wildeve nor the returning native Clym Yeobright can bring her salvation. Injured by forces beyond their control, Hardy's characters struggle vainly in the net of destiny. In the end, only the face of the lonely heath remains untouched by fate in this masterpiece of tragic passion, a tale that perfectly epitomizes the author's own unique and melancholy genius. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; New Ed edition (August 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140435182
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140435184
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.9 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (113 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #207,195 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Pamela E. Long on February 12, 2007
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The CD audio book of the Return of the Native actually deserves to be described as amazing. The lyrical prose of Hardy, combines with the incomparable voice and performance of Alan Rickman, to make this a genuine treasure.

Rickman, in his limited interviews, has repeatedly referred to himself as an instrument. In this product, the only part of that instrument he could utilize was his voice. It is more than enough: the pictures and action spring vividly to life. Listening to his performance is sheer joy, and it rapidly makes you realize how little his capability has been tapped by film - where the whole "instrument" is utilized.

I would give this product the highest recommendation.
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Format: Audio Cassette
First, I must confess to being an avid Alan Rickman admirer. The man could read the local phone book and I'd gladly pay to hear it. Thusly, when I found he had done an unabridged set of audio tapes of one of my favorite books -- "The Return of the Native" -- I was thrilled.
"The Return of the Native" is a compelling and beautifully written story. I especially like the way Hardy makes Egdon Heath itself as much a character in the story as the human denizens of the area, breathing life into it through his wonderful word pictures and his special talent for creating moods. Hardy's vivid descriptions and excellent character development make this an enchanting adventure.
Add to this the velvet-smooth voice of Rickman, and you have a treat for the imagination and the ears.
Rickman gives each of the characters his (or her) own separate voice, and manages to do so without forgetting how each should sound. How he kept it straight, I'll never know (I, myself, record books on tape for an educational company and know how complicated that can be!)...what with the many inhabitants of Egdon Heath he had to work with...but, he did. Rickman also actually sang the songs from the book (and not badly, either), adding another dimension.
"The Return of the Native" (unabridged) is a must for anyone who loves good literature on tape, and for anyone who is a fan of Alan Rickman. This is a stunning production and well worth the investment!
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This is the third time I've listened to this audio book, something I have never done before. I must admit, it gets better ever time. The description of the characters is incredible - when have you read a whole chapter describing an individual? Or the landscape? Certainly way more verbose than modern style, but the observations stand the test of time, and paint pictures that linger. None of the characters is flawless, and the errors of omission in their acts toward each other results in no end of misery. But the view of life in another time, with all its physical differences and all its emotional similarities to ours is intrigueing. And Rickman is fabulous, capturing accents and personalities that reading myself in my cozy chair in Phoenix Arizona would never have known.
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Format: Paperback
The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy. Recommended.

In Egdon Heath, Thomas Hardy creates an otherworld consisting of the elements earth, wind, fire, and water, populated by a witch condemned by a pious woman's spell, a Christian ruled by pagan beliefs, an assortment of other odd characters, and the native of the title whose return precipitates a series of tragic events.

The Return of the Native is centered around Eustacia Vye, a beautiful outsider wrenched from the society she craves by orphanhood and exiled to live on Egdon Heath with her maternal grandfather. Spoiled, vain, fickle, and selfish, Eustacia is not a sympathetic heroine. Although she claims to belong to Damon Wildeve ("body and soul" in one uncensored version), she really belongs to whomever can grant her what she desires and, in her mind, deserves. While Wildeve is a step above the local rabble, Eustacia can never fully commit herself to him. Each time she considers it, she is held back by the thought that even he lacks something and that surely she can do better. "He's not great enough for me to give myself to-he does not suffice for my desire! . . . If he had been a Saul or a Bonaparte-ah! But to break my marriage vow for him-it is too poor a luxury!"

In another place, like the Paris Eustacia longs for, she would have become a mistress or a courtesan-the consort of a powerful man or men. On Egdon Heath, however, there are neither powerful men nor courtesans. There is only Damon, an equally fickle young man who hotly desires that which he cannot have-sometimes Eustacia, sometimes the naïve Thomasin Yeobright. To complicate matters, Thomasin's cousin Clym returns from Paris, where he has a financially rewarding and spiritually stifling career.
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Format: Audio CD
As a keen fan of Thomas Hardy, I have found this reading wonderful. Alan Rickman's rendition is beautifully paced and the characters were really brought to life by the variety of tone within his voice. Certainly, this is one of Hardy's gloomier works--but all the more fascinating for the picture given of characters in a truly remarkable landscape. I've always regarded Egdon Heath as the true hero of this work anyway. At a time when I have needed distraction from my own circumstances, this marvellous version has proved invaluable and I look forward to acquiring others to enjoy.
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