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Far from the Madding Crowd: An Authoritative Text, Backgrounds, Criticism (Norton Critical Editions) Paperback – 9 Apr 1986


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Product details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1ST edition (9 April 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393954080
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393954081
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 0.3 x 2.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (280 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 271,687 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Vital, passionate, spirited - from the moment Bathsheba appears she is beguiling. You can denounce her faults - she's selfish and capricious - but it's hard not to admire her determined independence" (Di Speirs (executive producer of readings at the BBC) Independent)

"Hardy's warmest and most enchanting novel" (Daily Express)

"Hardy's Far from the Madding Crowd is the most romantic book I have ever read. I love the line where he says: "Whenever you look up, there I shall be - and whenever I look up there will be you." It is very simple and understated, but also incredibly romantic" (Liz Jensen Independent)

"Hardy expounds on his favourite themes: misunderstandings, missed opportunities, unrequited love and fatal omissions" (Sunday Times)

"The age-old dilemma - mind-blowing passion versus a man who knows how to put up shelves" (Independent) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

Hardy's most enchanting novel is about unrequited love, missed opportunities and romance --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Mrs. C. E. Cain on 15 Jan. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I read this book as a teenager and have remembered the story ever since. I think it is the only book to ever have had the film follow the story line so perfectly.
I have a connection to Dorset as my father's family all lived there but even without that, this is a classic for everyone. It is the story of female power in a man's world, a woman who succeeds. Once started it is hard to put down until the end and I found that I wanted part two and more.No-one writes like Thomas Hardy!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Mandy on 19 Nov. 2005
Format: Paperback
I liked this book. I read Tess of the D'Urbervilles and found it quite hard-going and long-winded, but I really enjoyed reading this. It takes a while for the story to get going, but I kept wanting to go back to it to find out what was going to happen next.
I'd recommend this to anyone, even if you haven't liked some of Hardy's other books.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By "andy14761" on 7 Aug. 2004
Format: Paperback
Hardy's first major success starts out with a plethora of rich, evocative description of the landscape the shepherd, Gabriel Oak, inhabits, such as "the dry leaves simmered and boiled in the desolate winds, a tongue of air sending them spinning across the grass", the trees "wailing and chaunting to each other in the regular antiphonies of a cathedral choir". Hardy is an excellent (and in my opinion unsurpassed) creator of atmosphere.
Hardy evokes sympathy for Oak in his initial rejection by Bathsheba, giving the reader a sense of his vulnerability, with his initial description also describing how his face "had some relics of the boy", further suggesting vulnerability. However, Oak seems after this rejection to transform into a hero, becoming a character one does not so much relate to as idolize and respect. Hardy writes at the beginning that Oak's "hues and curves of youth" were "tarrying on to manhood", and we get a sense through his patience and humility, his helping Bathsheba with her dying sheep even after she had ousted him in a paroxysm of fury just before, he has achieved manhood, and that the abovementioned qualities are those of ideal masculinity, not the flashy extravagance of Troy or the wealth of Boldwood.
Due to the construction of the plot, however, with Oak at the beginning thus being portrayed as the principal character, the end is rather predictable to the cynical reader. Towards the end, the beautiful description is completely dropped to allow pure action to ensue, with the idea that the pace is quickened thus exciting the reader, yet the ending, though dramatic, feels overly rushed nevertheless.
But all in all, it was a very enjoyable read, with the atmospheric description of the landscape demonstrative of Hardy's poetic ability (which he was later to excercize fully, abandoning the novel form and progressing with verse in his last years) being the strong point of 'Far from the Madding Crowd'.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By J C E Hitchcock on 11 Feb. 2011
Format: Paperback
Hardy's title is taken from Thomas Gray's "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard", and may have been meant ironically. Gray was comparing the quiet life of country dwellers with the frenzied crowds of the city:-

"Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife
Their sober wishes never learn'd to stray",

yet Hardy is writing of rural characters whose wishes are often far from sober and to whom strife is by no means unknown.

This was Hardy's fourth novel and his first major success. It was also the first in which he used the name "Wessex", previously only used by historians in connection with the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of that name, as a description of contemporary south-west England. Most of the action takes place in the village of Weatherbury in the county of South Wessex (for which read Puddletown, Dorset- Hardy's novels are generally set in real towns and villages disguised under fictitious names).

The plot centres upon a device which Hardy used in a number of his novels; two or more men in love with the same woman. (This theme also occurs, for example, in "A Pair of Blue Eyes", "Two on a Tower" and "Tess of the D'Urbervilles"). The heroine, Bathsheba Everdene, has inherited a farm from her uncle, which makes her independently wealthy and therefore a very desirable "catch". Bathsheba is a high-spirited young woman, proud of both her financial independence and her good looks, determined to farm her land herself without relying upon a bailiff, even though her inexperience and impulsiveness make this at times a difficult task.

Bathsheba's three suitors are given sharply contrasting characters. Sergeant Francis Troy is a handsome young soldier in the Dragoon Guards.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Becci on 5 Jun. 2012
Format: Paperback
This is my ultimate favourite book of all time. It was the first Hardy book I read and I absolutely loved his style of writing and his presentation of all the main characters. It is so finely written, and you can picture everything with Hardy's in-depth descriptions. The book was written in the latter half of the 19th century, but is still incredibly accessible. The emotions Hardy deals with and the way the characters interact is fantastic. All in all, the author's writing skills coupled with a very busy yet easy to follow story line make this novel truly brilliant and timeless.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Robert D. Storey on 4 Dec. 2012
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This is the best audio book I have ever listened to. I got completely lost in Hardy's world of 19th century Dorset.
Hardy's story is wonderful in several different respects. He takes you into a long lost rural world with fascinating descriptions of farm life and technology. Sometimes he drifts off into evocative asides. My favourite being when he describes the sensation of watching the Earth move through the stars and space from a pitch black hilltop. The fact that this book is unabridged helps greatly in this respect as these asides are usually chopped from audio books.
It is with his descriptions of people and sympathy with their thoughts and motivations that he is truly a genius. Although these characters are from a different age their various personalities are all readily recognizable to a modern reader and make the story utterly convincing.
Nathaniel Parker reads it well and helps brings the characters further to life.
I was very sorry to reach the end and leave behind Weatherbury, Gabriel,Bathsheba and their world.
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