Cover image for Tess of the d'Urbervilles : a pure woman
Tess of the d'Urbervilles : a pure woman
Hardy, Thomas, 1840-1928.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
London : Dent ; Vermont : Charles E. Tuttle, [1993]

Physical Description:
xxxviii, 417 pages ; 20 cm.
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X Adult Fiction Reading List
X Adult Fiction Reading List
X Adult Fiction Reading List

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This Third Edition of Tess of the D'Urbervilles introduces the highly praised 1983 Clarendon text edited by Juliet Grindle and Simon Gatrell.

Author Notes

Thomas Hardy was born on June 2, 1840, in Higher Bockhampton, England. The eldest child of Thomas and Jemima, Hardy studied Latin, French, and architecture in school. He also became an avid reader.

Upon graduation, Hardy traveled to London to work as an architect's assistant under the guidance of Arthur Bloomfield. He also began writing poetry. How I Built Myself a House, Hardy's first professional article, was published in 1865. Two years later, while still working in the architecture field, Hardy wrote the unpublished novel The Poor Man and the Lady. During the next five years, Hardy penned Desperate Remedies, Under the Greenwood Tree, and A Pair of Blue Eyes. In 1873, Hardy decided it was time to relinquish his architecture career and concentrate on writing full-time.

In September 1874, his first book as a full-time author, Far from the Madding Crowd, appeared serially. After publishing more than two dozen novels, one of the last being Tess of the d'Urbervilles, Hardy returned to writing poetry--his first love. Hardy's volumes of poetry include Poems of the Past and Present, The Dynasts: Part One, Two, and Three, Time's Laughingstocks, and The Famous Tragedy of the Queen of Cornwall.

From 1833 until his death, Hardy lived in Dorchester, England. His house, Max Gate, was designed by Hardy, who also supervised its construction. Hardy died on January 11, 1928. His ashes are buried in Poet's Corner at Westminster Abbey.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

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) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved All rights reserved.

Library Journal Review

Hardy's bleak, relentless tale of an innocent country girl's brief, perilous journey on our blighted planet is not for the faint of heart. Born into a weak family, seduced by an unscrupulous admirer, and beset by a series of tragic coincidences, courageous Tess surrenders herself to the crushing force of fate with heartbreaking simplicity. There is a certain aptness to having a male take the part of the anonymous narrator, almost as if he were assuming the author's role. As such, Peter Firth reads both the general narration and most of the dialog with sensitivity and verve. However, his interpretation of Tess is unconvincing, at times bordering on parody. As Tess is the focus of the story, this is a major flaw in an otherwise attractive program. Recommended only for collections without Davina Porter's rendition from Recorded Books (1994).Sister M. Anna Falbo, Villa Maria Coll. Lib., Buffalo, N.Y.(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



From David Galef's Introduction to Tess of the D'Urbervilles Hardy's background suggests the dualities in the patterns of his fiction: the Victorian belief in social improvement versus a skepticism about the efficacy of reform; a love of the natural world versus the knowledge that nature is a mindless, impersonal system; and a nostalgia for previous eras despite the recognition that he himself probably would not have flourished back then. Born in 1840 and brought up in the rugged countryside of Dorset, which he turned into the Wessex of his fiction and poetry, Hardy became intimately acquainted with not just the local flora and fauna but seemingly every rise and bend in the region, or as Hardy mentions regarding Tess: "Every contour of the surrounding hills was as personal to her as that of her relatives' faces." But Hardy went beyond the little village of Stinson near his home. The school he attended from age nine to sixteen was in Dorchester, 5 miles away, a distance that he walked back and forth daily. Thus, when he opens a scene with "It was a hazy sunrise in August. The denser nocturnal vapours, attacked by the warm beams, were dividing and shrinking into isolated fleeces within hollows and coverts, where they waited till they should be dried away to nothing," or describes how the "ripe hue of the red and dun kine absorbed the evening sunlight," the pictorial naturalism speaks with the authority of someone who's done a great deal of traipsing through the southwest of England. In fact, Hardy also drew upon real towns and their citizens. Thus, Dorchester becomes Casterbridge, Marnhull is really Marlott, Sturminster-Newton turns into Stourcastle, Trantridge is suggestive of the real town of Pentridge, and so on. (See the Map of Wessex and the Index of Places in this edition.) Even during Hardy's lifetime, commentators compiled descriptions and photos of "Hardy country." Visitors still make pilgrimages to those towns and other landmarks, a surprising number of which have been preserved. Yet, living in the village of Higher Brockhampton near Stinson, Hardy grew up as many of the old rural ways were dying out: livelihoods, such as that of John Durbeyfield, described as a haggler or peddler; formerly independent businesses, such as inns, gradually taken over by franchises; and customs, such as May Day, a festival hearkening back to "when one-handed clocks sufficiently subdivided the day"; or simply the way John's wife, Joan, makes a mirror in the country way, by hanging a sheet on the outside of a window. Taking longer to fade are attitudes, such as the timeworn view that a woman with a sexual past is "ruined"--but not a man. Hardy only half regrets the vanishing of old ways. After all, the small rural towns of England in the mid-nineteenth century formed a world in which the family washing was never quite done, drinking was the sole pastime for many, and the death of a horse meant the loss of a livelihood. When Tess is down on her luck, she hires herself out first as a dairymaid, then as a reed-puller, and finally as a digger for swedes, or rutabagas. These jobs involve hard manual labor, as well as cooperation among workers. Hardy describes the tasks in the kind of detail that a novelist uses when the readership may be only half acquainted with its rural past: singing at cows to coax a greater yield of milk, or how to draw straw from corn stalks. If Hardy is able to place us in a bygone world, in fact he had the same transporting effect on his contemporary readers; most were far removed from rural life. At the same time, the rigor and plod of agricultural work forms a comment on the condition of the rural poor. As with Dickens's novels, Hardy's writings--including an essay from 1883 called "The Dorsetshire Labourer"--led to social change. Hardy, after all, was born into a world both more genteel and more barbarous than ours, with aspects that shock us today, even as ours, with its blatant sexuality, would shock people then. Hardy couldn't directly refer to the rape scene between Tess and Alec in the forest, and what little he hinted at disturbed many of his readers. Yet our own society, so inured to erotic display, is more offended by social injustice. Unfair as Hardy's world seems, his citizens observe a certain decorum and a sense of charity that partly compensate for life's inequalities. Excerpted from Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

About the Series
About This Volume
Part I Tess of the D'urbervilles: The Complete Text
Introduction: Biographical and Historical Context
The Complete Text [1920 Wessex Edition]
Part II Tess of the D'urbervilles: A Case Study in Contemporary Criticism
A Critical History of Tess of the d'Urbervilles
New Historicism and Tess of the d'Urbervilles
What Is New Historicism?
New Historicism: A Selected Bibliography
A New Historicist Perspective:
Tess of the d'Urbervilles: Hardy's Anthropology of the NovelCatherine Gallagher
Feminist and Gender Criticism and Tess of the d'Urbervilles
What Are Feminist and Gender Criticism?
Feminist and Gender Criticism: A Selected Bibliography
A Feminist and Gender Perspective:
Tess and the Subject of Sexual Violence: Reading, RapeEllen Rooney Seduction
Deconstruction and Tess of the d'Urbervilles
What Is Deconstruction?
Deconstruction: A Selected Bibliography
A Deconstructive Perspective:
Echoic Language, Uncertainty, and Freedom in Tess of the d'UrbervillesJohn Paul Riquelme
Reader-Response Criticism and Tess of the d'Urbervilles
What Is Reader-Response Criticism?
Reader-Response Criticism: A Selelcted Bibliography
A Reader-Response Perspective:
"Driven Well Home to the Reader's Heart": Tess's Implicated AudienceGarrett Stewart
Cultural Criticism and Tess of the d'Urbervilles
What Is Cultural Criticism?
Cultual Criticism: A Selected Bibliography
A Cultual Perspective:
The Same and the Different: Standards and Standardization in Thomas Hardy's Tess of the d'UrbervillesJennifer Wicke
Glossary of Critical and Theoretical Terms
About the Contributors