|Publisher:||Pbshop.Co.UK Ltd DBA Echo Library|
|Edition description:||Large Print|
|Product dimensions:||8.25(w) x 11.00(h) x 0.91(d)|
About the Author
Thomas Hardy (1840–1928) was an English poet and regional novelist whose most notable novels are Far from the Madding Crowd and Tess of the D'Urbervilles.
Simon Vance has recorded over four hundred audiobooks and has earned over twenty AudioFile Earphones Awards, including for his narration of Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini. He is also the recipient of five coveted Audie Awards, including one for The King's Speech by Mark Logue and Peter Conradi, and he was named an AudioFile Best Voice of 2009.
Read an Excerpt
A SATURDAY afternoon in November was approaching the time of twilight, and the vast tract of unenclosed wild known as Egdon Heath embrowned itself moment by moment. Overhead the hollow stretch of whitish cloud shutting out the sky was as a tent which had the whole heath for its floor.
The heaven being spread with this pallid screen and the earth with the darkest vegetation, their meeting-line at the horizon was clearly marked. In such contrast the heath wore the appearance of an instalment of night which had taken up its place before its astronomical hour was come: darkness had to a great extent arrived hereon, while day stood distinct in the sky. Looking upwards, a furze-cutter would have been inclined to continue work; looking down, he would have decided to finish his faggot and go home. The distant rims of the world and of the firmament seemed to be a division in time no less than a division in matter. The face of the heath by its mere complexion added half an hour to evening; it could in like manner retard the dawn, sadden noon, anticipate the frowning of storms scarcely generated, and intensify the opacity of a moonless midnight to a cause of shaking dread.
In fact, precisely at this transitional point of its nightly roll into darkness the great and particular glory of the Egdon waste began, and nobody could be said to understand the heath who had not been there at such a time. It could best be felt when it could not clearly be seen, its complete effect and explanation lying in this and the succeeding hours before the next dawn: then, and only then, did it tell its true tale. The spot was, indeed, a near relation of night, and when night showed itself an apparent tendency to gravitate together could be perceived in its shades and the scene. The sombre stretch of rounds and hollows seemed to rise and meet the evening gloom in pure sympathy, the heath exhaling darkness as rapidly as the heavens precipitated it. And so the obscurity in the air and the obscurity in the land closed together in a black fraternization towards which each advanced half-way.
The place became full of a watchful intentness now; for when other things sank brooding to sleep the heath appeared slowly to awake and listen. Every night its Titanic form seemed to await something; but it had waited thus, unmoved, during so many centuries, through the crises of so many things, that it could only be imagined to await one last crisis—the final overthrow.
Table of Contents
Thomas Hardy: A Brief Chronology
A Note on the Text
The Return of the Native
Appendix A: Prefaces and Maps
The Preface to the 1895 Wessex Novels Edition
The Postscript added to the 1912 Wessex Edition
From the General Preface to the Novels and Poems (1912)
Map of Egdon Heath (1878)
Map of Wessex (1895)
Appendix B: Contemporary Reviews
From The Athenaeum (23 November 1878)
Hardy's response to the Athenaeum Review (30 November 1878)
From W.E. Henley, The Academy (30 November 1878)
From the Saturday Review (4 January 1879)
From the Spectator (8 February 1879)
From the New Quarterly Magazine (October 1879)
From Havelock Ellis, "Thomas Hardy's Novels," Westminster Review (April 1883)
Appendix C: Philosophical and Political Contexts
Positivism: from Auguste Comte, System of Positive Polity (1851-54; trans. 1875-76)
The Individual and Freedom: from John Stuart Mill, On Liberty (1859)
The Woman Question: from John Ruskin, Sesame and Lilies (1865) and John Stuart Mill, The Subjection of Women (1869)
Hedonism and Modernity: from Walter Pater, Studies in the History of the Renaissance (1873)
Appendix D: Scientific Influences
From Charles Lyell, Principles of Geology (1830-33)
From Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection (1859)
From Herbert Spencer, The Principles of Biology (1864-67)
From Thomas Hardy, A Pair of Blue Eyes (1873)
Appendix E: Other Writings by Hardy
A Selection of Hardy's Poetry
At a Bridal
An August Midnight
The Dead Man Walking
By the Barrows
The Roman Road
The Graveyard of Dead Creeds
From "The Dorsetshire Labourer" (1883)
From "The Profitable Reading of Fiction" (1888)
From "Candour in English Fiction" (1890)
From The Life of Thomas Hardy (1928; 1930)
Appendix F: The Play of Saint George
Appendix G: Arthur Hopkins's Illustrations for the Monthly Serialization of Belgravia
Reading Group Guide
1. What does Egdon Heath symbolize to you? How does each character relate to the heath? To what extent does the landscape control the actions of the characters or influence them? How do the characters resist or succumb to the landscape? What is the role of urban life in the novel?
2. Discuss Clym's spiritual odyssey. How does it shed light on Hardy's concerns in the novel? Would you describe Clym as idealistic? How does his attitude compare to that of the people of Egdon Heath or that of Eustacia?
3. Why does Eustacia hate Egdon Heath? Is she too headstrong? How much control does Eustacia have over events that shape her life? Over the lives of others? Do you think Eustacia symbolizes human limitation or potential? Do you think her death is a reconciliation of sorts, or not?
4. Discuss the role of fate or chance in the novel. Is Hardy sympathetic to the victims of chance in this novel? To what extent are events caused by the force of a character's personality (e.g., Eustacia), rather than by chance? To what extent do actions produce results opposite from that desired? Do you think there is a connection between this use of irony and the role of fate in the novel?
5. Discuss the novel's opening scene, in which Hardy describes Egdon Heath. How does this establish the emotional tone of the book? How does it foreshadow the action within the novel?
6. Why is Eustacia interested in Clym? How does this set the wheels of the plot in motion? How does this affect the other characters, like Thomasin and particularly Clym's mother? What is Wildeve's role in Mrs. Yeobright's fate?