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Tess of the D'Urbervilles [Paperback]

Thomas Hardy
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (194 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Feb. 24 2011 0141197978 978-0141197975
Young Tess Durbeyfield attempts to restore her family's fortunes by claiming their connection with the aristocratic d'Urbervilles. But Alec d'Urberville is a rich wastrel who seduces her and makes her life miserable. When Tess meets Angel Clare, she is offered true love and happiness, but her past catches up with her and she faces an agonizing moral choice. Thomas Hardy's indictment of society's double standards, and his depiction of Tess as ""a pure woman,"" caused controversy in his day and has held the imagination of readers ever since. Hardy thought it his finest novel and Tess the most deeply felt character he ever created.

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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.

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Customer Reviews

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect for a Book Club Feb. 10 2004
Format:Paperback
Some great discussions come out of this book. Thomas Hardy has a very distinct style, and uses the environment essentially as another character, so it may be beneficial to at least have some familiarity with England before reading. No one can read this book without having strong opinions about the characters, especially the two main men. This is one of the standout pieces of literature of its time and is well worth the read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Want to read the classics, start with Tess June 30 2004
Format:Paperback
What is the point of reading classic literature if all you are going to do is analyse it? What a waste. Hardy, Austen et al would be turning in their graves if they knew that their work would be treated in this way by self-proclaimed experts. Classic novels are to be enjoyed; they are written for the satisfaction of all readers, not just to massage the egos of academics.
Yes, I've studied classic literature, and it isn't the genre I am typically interested in. However, "Tess of the d'urbervilles" is the novel that has inspired me to give this genre another try. I found it to be incredibly moving; dismissing the idea that it was poorly written. I've found English literature too stifled by its own airs and graces, but this is not the case with Thomas Hardy. He paints a picture of great hope in a way that allows us to empathise (unlike some of his contemporaries) with the characters of a different era.
I recommend anyone who wants to start reading classic English literature to begin with "Tess of the d'urbervilles". You will find it an easily accessible read. It is beautiful, hopeful and tragic.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful June 25 2004
Format:Paperback
I had to write a review just to bring up a rating that was unfairly knocked down by a handful of obtuse reviewers. I wasn't an English lit major like some of these reviewers, but I have read upwards of 10,000 books in my life -with a concentration on literature- and have to say that the descriptive writing in "Tess of the D'Ubervilles" is the most beautiful and poetic I have yet encountered. It is not the most exciting, nor the most stunningly transformative(that honour goes to "Altas Shrugged") book, but the construction and execution is exquisite.
The book is in fact slowly paced - so much so in the first couple of chapters that I was rebuffed the first time I started reading it. However, a little patience will grant you entry into the gorgeous spell Hardy invokes. Yes, it is a "victorian" novel, but the sublimity of the writing and of the plot's tragedy emancipates it from the staidness of the genre.
The upshot is that you shouldn't turn to this book if you want a fast paced thriller or "clever" writing. Read it if you want to cultivate your awareness of exceptional beauty; this book is for the cultured connoisseur, not needy readers.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Somber rustic majesty June 9 2004
By A.J.
Format:Paperback
In a certain light, Thomas Hardy's "Tess of the D'Urbervilles" might be seen as a Cinderella story horribly disfigured by a tragic twist. When we first meet the heroine, Tess Durbeyfield, as a poor, hardworking farm girl who has to take care of her five younger siblings and fulfill the responsibilities abandoned by her inebriated father, she seems like a girl destined for greater things: a brilliant career in a more stimulating occupation, a blissful marriage to a wonderful man. But Hardy likes to illustrate fate's capacity for cruelty, and Tess is merely an innocent woman who is seemingly punished for her innocence.
The name Durbeyfield is a vulgarization of d'Urberville, a family with a rich history descended from Norman knights and wealthy landowners, but various misfortunes have reduced the lineage to the commoners who presently inhabit the impoverished Durbeyfield household. (We learn later in the novel that the Durbeyfields are not the only local family to have suffered this appellative fall from grace.) Although the d'Urberville nobility is defunct, in the near past an enterprising businessman named Stoke sought to increase the prestige of his own family by appropriating a distinguished name from the county annals, and d'Urberville is the one he chose. Thus when Tess, to aid her family's finances after an unfortunate accident deprives them of their income, takes a job tending the fowl at the nearby d'Urberville estate, she mistakenly believes she is working for her relations.
This ostensibly minor detail is really the basis of the irony which drives the novel. Had Mr.
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1.0 out of 5 stars mind-numbing, terrible writing May 31 2004
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Having a degree in English Lit., it seems sinful for me to accuse Thomas Hardy of being a terrible writer, but there it is. Any writer today submitting a manuscript like this would have it rejected out of hand. This is not a book for an audience seeking a good, fast-paced story that speaks for itself. If you read this book, you will have to interpret every word, description, and action, try to guess what universal message the author is attempting to convey and what the characters are thinking and feeling at any given time. In short, the kind of book that college English professors love, and try to emulate, and remain college English professors because they will never get such a thing published.
First of all, character development is not only lacking, it is absent altogether. It might be assumed that the book's title character, at least, would be strongly drawn, someone we could sympathize with, empathize with, or relate to in some way. Not the case. While Hardy expounds upon Tess' physical appearance ad nauseum throughout, never did I gain any real insight into her thoughts and feelings, her motivation. Maybe the insight is hidden in these endless physical descriptions or her inane actions, but frankly, if I'm reading for pleasure I don't want to take the time to search. Sorry. And it follows that if Hardy failed in his title character, forget about all the others.
Secondly, his wordiness is irritating. One paragraph of half-way interesting action is followed by a full page of useless description and genuflecting. Perhaps essential to hidden meanings and motives and social commentary, but again, I'm not taking the time to search. I found myself skipping over these, the result being my finishing the book in two evenings.
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars English Grammer at its best
I haven't finished it yet ... now I know why I hated English classes so much ... touch reading because of the way its written in old english for the most part ... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Karen Steele
5.0 out of 5 stars Im still trying to read it!
I find it a bit difficult to read... maybe it's just me.. but im still trying.. after all it's a classic! Read more
Published 3 months ago by duvy mena
3.0 out of 5 stars Ok
Not finished yet. Love Hardy's style of writing. Wish Tess had more gumption. I guess the timid female was the style in old England
Published 10 months ago by Brenda J. Mcquade
5.0 out of 5 stars great read
Another Thomas Hardy favorite. Story of a poor young woman and her life in 17th century Britain. Romance, loss and survival. A great glimpse into the past. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Jackie Livedotte Ohlsen
5.0 out of 5 stars A book made how books should be
This is a beautiful copy of an old classic, and at an unbeatable price. If you love the story of Tess and her tragic star-crossed life, and you love a good hardcopy that looks... Read more
Published on April 17 2011 by cwise
2.0 out of 5 stars tiring at times
at times i felt like i was reading an agricultural journal-more info about cows than i care to know
Tess is enough to want to make you scream-enough of the self pity... Read more
Published on Feb. 19 2011 by Mary Gina Machado
1.0 out of 5 stars Like a bad TV movie
This book, while perhaps well written, is just so ridiculous and self-contradictory that it's maddening to read. Read more
Published on July 1 2004 by Matthew Bayer
5.0 out of 5 stars boo hoo hoo....!
Oh gosh! Gee whiz...this book is tough! It has so, so many....uh, words, and the descriptions are oh so long and require far too much attention. Read more
Published on June 4 2004 by Futureman
1.0 out of 5 stars Why doesn't she just jump in the river and have done with!!!
The whole tragedy is in the fact that I was NOT forced to read this book but actually picked it up because I WANTED to read it (or so I thought at the time). Read more
Published on May 27 2004 by L. A. Stelczyk
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