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Tess of the d'Urbervilles [Norton Critical Edition]

von Thomas Hardy, Scott Elledge (Herausgeber)

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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. The text is fully annotated and includes a separate table of contents for the novel to assist readers in locating specific episodes or passages.Hardy's hand-drawn map of Wessex and the manuscript title page for the first edition of his novel are also included.Hardy and the Novel includes seven poems by Hardy that provide greater insight into his ethos; selections from Michael Millgate's biography of Hardy that depict the relationship between episodes in Tess of the D'Urbervilles and events in the author's life; and excerpts from Grindle and Gatrell's introduction to the 1983 edition that discuss Hardy's revision process in both manuscripts and early printed editions of the novel.Criticism features three contemporary reviews of the novel not printed in the earlier Norton editions, including the first feminist review of Tess of the D'Urbervilles.Also new are 'A Chat with Mr. Hardy,' a hitherto unprinted post-publication interview with the author about his new novel, and five carefully selected critical interpretations.Essays by Elliot B. Gose, Jr., Peter R. Morton, and Gillian Beer address Hardy's debt to Charles Darwin, perhaps the single most important influence on Hardy's thought and imagination; Raymond Williams's essay presents a Marxist perspective; and Adrian Poole discusses the significance of Hardy's wisdom concerning 'the trouble men's words have with women and the trouble women have with men's words.'A Chronology, new to this edition, and a Selected Bibliography are included.… (mehr)
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I love spending time in Wessex. The textured cadences of Thomas Hardy's style, the lush English valleys with their hedgerows and cattle, the harvesters and weekend revelers at their provincial celebrations, the farmhands awaking "at the marginal minute of the dark when the grove is still mute," the earthy banter of village bit-players, opinions exchanged tipsily at unofficial pubs and road-stands in country dialect: all of this I find oddly comforting. The quality of the prose is lovingly well-matched to the landscape and people it describes, and the textural background of the whole makes up a chewy, hearty literary feast, like fresh bread and slow-cooked stew, for which I get the occasional undeniable craving.

Which can be something of a conundrum, because sad freakin' things happen in Wessex. And a reader can't really hang out there just to gossip in the pub with Joan Durbyfield and Joseph Poorgrass, getting contentedly tipsy in the knowledge that nothing too catastrophic happened today, and nothing overly noteworthy is likely to happen tomorrow. No, in order to get one's fix of the general atmosphere, it's necessary to follow the fortunes and misfortunes of Hardy's star-crossed protagonists and their equally ill-fated lovers, to observe the "anxieties, disappointments, shocks, catastrophes, and passing strange destinies" that afflict his Bathshebas, Judes, and Tesses. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the protagonists of Wessex too - but making the choice to grapple with their tragedies is an emotional commitment. With Tess, in particular, I spent most of the time when I wasn't drinking in Hardy's prose or basking in the English pastoral, thinking about the odd, transitional sexual attitudes embodied in this tale of young Tess Durbyfield's youthful seduction (or rape?) and subsequent catastrophic ruin.

In his sexual politics, Hardy occupies an interesting place between the Victorian and modern periods. He himself is a bit like Tess's suitor and eventual husband Angel Clare: forward-thinking, yet thrown back on his assumptions. Hardy bemoans the backwardness and artificiality of the social conventions that decree Tess is "ruined" after a single, ignorant sexual encounter in her extreme youth. He deliberately accentuates the sexual double-standard between men and women, by giving Angel the exact same secret as Tess has (a short-lived sexual relationship, much-regretted later in life), disclosed in exactly the same way, which is nonetheless easily forgiven whereas her own transgression is unpardonable. Hardy rues the circumstance that Angel,

with all his attempted independence of judgement...a sample product of the last five-and-twenty years, was yet the slave to custom and conventionality when surprised into his early teachings. No prophet had told him, and he was not prophet enough to tell himself, that essentially this young wife of his was as deserving of the praise of King Lemuel as any other woman...

Irving Howe argued that Hardy was unusual among nineteenth-century English novelists in that he "liked women," and I think one does get the sense that he likes and sympathizes with Tess. But at the same time, many of the qualities he seems to prize in her are ones that contribute to the same Victorian sexual double-standard that he seems to despise. Hardy blames "civilization" for the unreasonable standard to which Tess is held, yet he seems to approve her own refusal to stand up for herself, to be "prophet enough" to defend her self-worth before the man she loves (although she will do it before the man she hates). Possessed of a strong enough character to take responsibility for the family finances as a half-grown girl, to repulse the advances of a rich young man she doesn't love, and to start her life over in another village after she is raped/seduced, all her self-possession deserts her upon being castigated by Angel Clare. She professes herself his "wretched slave," who will abide by whatever fate he decides for her. In fact, Tess values her own life so little that she volunteers to kill herself for Angel's convenience. What's more, the novel, as I read it, seems to validate this kind of "love" as an element of what makes women womanly: the other dairy maids, all of whom loved Angel Clare, descend to similar levels of self-harm when he departs with Tess (one attempts suicide, one takes to drink, and one descends into depression). This is quite a double-edged sword: Hardy is able to "like women," but only if an intrinsic part of womanhood is a deep self-hatred, or willingness to immolate one's selfhood for the convenience of a lover. One is reminded of white folks who loudly proclaim that they "love black people! They're so musical!"

Tess is a classic example of a woman who is victimized by the patriarchal structure of her society, yet continues to buy into and perpetuate that system. Even within the structure of the novel, the more reasonable characters can hardly blame Tess for her rape or seduction by Alec D'Urberville. Yet she blames herself, and thinks herself damned and dirtied, forever cut off from future happiness or wifehood. What's more, Hardy seems to validate Tess's own attitude as the "serious" or praiseworthy one. He certainly gives more weight to her outlook than to that of her mother: even though Joan's words to Tess (reassuring her that what happened to her is not her fault, and that Angel has no claim to hear it until Tess decides to tell him) are some of the warmest and most nurturing in the entire novel, Mrs. Derbyfield is presented as an uncultured opportunist, encouraging her daughter to manipulate men.

I can imagine a rubric under which these seeming conflicts could be seen as consistent: Hardy rues the sexual double-standard, not because it's morally wrong, but because it's "not in Nature," as he repeatedly remarks throughout the book. By contrast, the qualities that underly his admiration of Tess - her self-sacrificing impulses, her all-consuming love, her passionate nature (which can nonetheless be repressed for love), her affinity for emotions over logic, her capacity for performing crushing labor for hours on end with no complaint - are ones that Hardy views as "in Nature" with regards to womankind. I think Hardy sees himself as prizing the state of nature over the artificial social convention; Tess's tragedy comes from the disjunction between the naturalness of her character, and the entrenched nature of society's artificial expectations. Many of Hardy's assumptions about what makes a "natural" woman, of course, are ones with which I, as a modern woman, heartily disagree, and which expose his own Victorian socialization. The dissonance between Hardy's sexual politics and my own were fore-grounded by the plot, and made for frustrating, if thought-provoking, reading at times.

After all that, I don't mean to sound like I wasn't sucked in and buffeted along by the story itself, invested in Tess and Angel (and, to a surprising extent, Joan) and emotionally affected by the fatalistic tragedy that is Tess of the D'Urbervilles. I certainly was, and I'll be returning to this countryside again and again. Tess, more than certain others of Hardy's novels, made me think as well as feel. And despite the frustrations, that might make it my favorite Wessex tale yet.
1 abstimmen emily_morine | Jun 21, 2009 |
Wikipedia: Tess of the d'Urbervilles is a novel by Thomas Hardy, first published in 1891. It is Hardy's penultimate novel. Though now considered to be a great classic of English literature, the book was poorly received at the time of its initial publication. The book provides a poignant portrait of Tess, the heroine.
The story concerns a simple country girl, Teresa "Tess" Durbeyfield, the daughter of uneducated (and rather shiftless) peasants. Tess's father hears from a local clergyman (parson Tringham) that apparently the Durbeyfields are descendants of the medieval noble family d'Urberville. Upon hearing this, Tess's father sends her to the local nouveau-riche d'Urberville family (who in fact have no connection to the original d'Urbervilles, having appended the ancient name to their real surname of "Stoke" in order to appear that they have "old" connections).
Tess begins working at the d'Urberville house, and attracts the attention of the playboy son of the household, Alec d'Urberville. In a rape or seduction (the scene is open to interpretation), Tess is made pregnant by Alec. Tess returns home in disgrace, but the child she bears soon dies, leaving her free to leave her village once again to look for work. In hope of leaving her disgraced identity, she applies for employment at a dairy forty miles away. While employed as a milkmaid, she encounters the morally upright son of a minister, Angel Clare, who falls in love with her. Tess, too ashamed to admit her past history, agrees to marry Angel after he asks several times, but on their wedding night, she confesses that she is not a virgin and explains what happened with Alec d'Urberville. Even though he himself has also had an affair out of wedlock, he becomes upset and is unable to reconcile his real affection for Tess, his wounded pride, and his image of Tess as a pure and virginal figure. Angel abandons Tess and tells her she cannot contact him; he will contact her.
She briefly goes back to her family, but ashamed, she leaves to find work as a day laborer on other farms. Meanwhile, Alec d'Urberville claims to be a converted sinner, having been converted by Angel's father (who is a passionate preacher). Out of lust, Alec pursues Tess. Tess is repulsed by his conversion, so Alec quickly abandons his religious zeal. Alec offers her financial security for her family, companionship, and relief from her back-breaking work, but Tess refuses several times. Alec degrades her by demeaning her husband and repeatly blames Tess for transfixing him. While working there, Tess's younger sister Liza-Lu finds her and tells her that their mother is gravely ill. Tess returns home to discover that her mother has recovered but her father has died. The family then loses the lease on their cottage and is forced to travel the countryside with all their possessions searching for lodgings and employment. At this point, Alec d'Urberville re-appears and a desperate Tess agrees to become his mistress so that she can support her family.
Angel Clare has been in Brazil and after much thought returns to England to find Tess. He discovers her living in a hotel with Alec d'Urberville, well-cared for but miserable. Tess murders Alec to run away with Angel. They flee together on foot, but the police catch up with them at Stonehenge in a memorable finale. When Tess and Angel were fleeing, Tess asked Angel to marry her younger sister, Liza-Lu, who is a pure version of Tess. Together, Liza-Lu and Angel watch a black flag go up as Tess is hanged for the murder of Alec.
In Tess of the d'Urbervilles, through the central themes of sex, class perceptions, material longing and family betrayal, Hardy manages to suggest the ambiguities of time and change and divine power versus human reason.
Diese Rezension ist durch mehrere Mitglieder als Verstoß gegen die AGB (terms of service) gemeldet worden, und wird nicht mehr angezeigt.
  billyfantles | Sep 15, 2006 |
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AutorennameRolleArt des AutorsWerk?Status
Thomas HardyHauptautoralle Ausgabenberechnet
Elledge, ScottHerausgeberHauptautoralle Ausgabenbestätigt

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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. The text is fully annotated and includes a separate table of contents for the novel to assist readers in locating specific episodes or passages.Hardy's hand-drawn map of Wessex and the manuscript title page for the first edition of his novel are also included.Hardy and the Novel includes seven poems by Hardy that provide greater insight into his ethos; selections from Michael Millgate's biography of Hardy that depict the relationship between episodes in Tess of the D'Urbervilles and events in the author's life; and excerpts from Grindle and Gatrell's introduction to the 1983 edition that discuss Hardy's revision process in both manuscripts and early printed editions of the novel.Criticism features three contemporary reviews of the novel not printed in the earlier Norton editions, including the first feminist review of Tess of the D'Urbervilles.Also new are 'A Chat with Mr. Hardy,' a hitherto unprinted post-publication interview with the author about his new novel, and five carefully selected critical interpretations.Essays by Elliot B. Gose, Jr., Peter R. Morton, and Gillian Beer address Hardy's debt to Charles Darwin, perhaps the single most important influence on Hardy's thought and imagination; Raymond Williams's essay presents a Marxist perspective; and Adrian Poole discusses the significance of Hardy's wisdom concerning 'the trouble men's words have with women and the trouble women have with men's words.'A Chronology, new to this edition, and a Selected Bibliography are included.

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