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Tess of the D'Urbervilles: A Pure Woman (Signet Classics)by Thomas, Defendant Hardy
Synopses & Reviews
Tess Durbeyfield knows what it is to work hard and expect little. But her life is about to veer from the path trod by her mother and grandmother. When her ne’er-do-well father learns that his family is the last of a long noble line, the d’Urbervilles, he sends Tess on a journey to meet her supposed kin—a journey that will see her victimized by lust, poverty, and hypocrisy. Shaped by an acute sense of social injustice and by a vision of human fate cosmic in scope, her story is a singular blending of harsh realism and poignant beauty. Thomas Hardy created in Tess not a standard Victorian heroine but a woman whose intense vitality shines against the bleak backdrop of a dying way of life. The novel shocked contemporary readers with its honesty and remains a timeless commentary on the human condition.
One of literature's greatest and most tragic heroines.
A beautiful and hearty farm girl, Tess Durbeyfield is about to have her life tragically changed by forces outside her control: lust, poverty, and hypocrisy. This controversial Victorian tale has come to be recognized as a triumph of literary art.
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. 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. This unique critical text is taken from the authoritative Clarendon edition, which is based on the manuscript collated with all Hardy's subsequent revisions.
About the Author
Thomas Hardy was born on June 2, 1840. In his writing, he immortalized the site of his birth—Egdon Heath, in Dorset, near Dorchester. Delicate as a child, he was taught at home by his mother before he attended grammar school. At sixteen, Hardy was apprenticed to an architect, and for many years, architecture was his profession; in his spare time, he pursued his first and last literary love, poetry. Finally convinced that he could earn his living as an author, he retired from architecture, married, and devoted himself to writing. An extremely productive novelist, Hardy published an important book every year or two. In 1896, disturbed by the public outcry over the unconventional subjects of his two greatest novels—Tess of the DUrbervilles and Jude the Obscure—he announced that he was giving up fiction and afterward produced only poetry. In later years, he received many honors. He died on January 11, 1928, and was buried in Poets Corner, in Westminster Abbey. It was as a poet that he wished to be remembered, but today critics regard his novels as his most memorable contribution to English literature for their psychological insight, decisive delineation of character, and profound presentation of tragedy.
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