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Far from the Madding Crowd (Penguin Classics) [Paperback]

Thomas Hardy , Rosemarie Morgan
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (232 customer reviews)
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Book Description

27 Feb 2003 Penguin Classics

Far from the Madding Crowd was Thomas Hardy's first major literary success, and it edited with an introduction and notes by Rosemarie Morgan and Shannon Russell in Penguin Classics.

Independent and spirited Bathsheba Everdene has come to Weatherbury to take up her position as a farmer on the largest estate in the area. Her bold presence draws three very different suitors: the gentleman-farmer Boldwood, soldier-seducer Sergeant Troy and the devoted shepherd Gabriel Oak. Each, in contrasting ways, unsettles her decisions and complicates her life, and tragedy ensues, threatening the stability of the whole community. The first of his works set in the fictional county of Wessex, Hardy's novel of swift passion and slow courtship is imbued with his evocative descriptions of rural life and landscapes, and with unflinching honesty about sexual relationships.

This edition, based on Hardy's original 1874 manuscript, is the complete novel he never saw published, and restores its full candour and innovation. Rosemarie Morgan's introduction discusses the history of its publication, and the Biblical and Classical allusions that permeate the novel.

Thomas Hardy (1840-1928), born Higher Brockhampton, near Dorchester, originally trained as an architect before earning his living as a writer. Though he saw himself primarily as a poet, Hardy was the author of some of the late eighteenth century's major novels: The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886), Tess of the D'Urbervilles (1891), Far from the Madding Crowd (1874), and Jude the Obscure (1895). Amidst the controversy caused by Jude the Obscure, he turned to the poetry he had been writing all his life. In the next thirty years he published over nine hundred poems and his epic drama in verse, The Dynasts.

If you enjoyed Far from the Madding Crowd, you might also like Elizabeth Gaskell's Mary Barton.

'Wonderful ... a landscape which satisfies every stir of the imagination and which ravishes the senses'

Ronald Blythe


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Far from the Madding Crowd (Penguin Classics) + The Mayor of Casterbridge (Wordsworth Classics) + Tess of the d'Urbervilles (Wordsworth Classics)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Rev Ed edition (27 Feb 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141439653
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141439655
  • Product Dimensions: 19.7 x 2.2 x 12.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (232 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 282,813 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.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
When Farmer Oak smiled, the corners of his mouth spread, till they were within an unimportant distance of his ears, his eyes were reduced to mere chinks, and diverging wrinkles appeared round them, extending upon his countenance like the rays in a rudimentary sketch of the rising sun. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book 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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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rich description and simmering action 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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good. 19 Nov 2005
By Mandy
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful experience 13 Jan 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
brilliant story (albeit with usual Hardy coincidences) with great prose. A lovely way to pass a wet day. Thoroughly enjoyable.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My favourite book! 5 Jun 2012
By Becci
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars free e book 9 Jan 2013
By Roger
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
pleased with the book and the quick time it was downloaded to me.
Good nineteenth century novel by Thomas Hardy in rural setting.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
Reading this novel again in 36 degrees of heat in Tunisia was a delightful and slightly unusual experience! As I sat moderately baking in occasional shade, Bathsheba and Oak wrestled out their very pragmatic romance amidst the debris and lives of other characters whose impracticality and passion proves their undoing. The novel recommends survival through work and co-operation and this core value in the narrative far from being dull and tame compared to the heated, reckless drives of others,provides humour and finally healing. The scenes where Oak saves the gas ridden sheep and the stacks communicate Oak's consummate competence and care and Hardy 's sensory skills are marvellously suggestive and psychologically apt:

'He felt a zephyr curling about his cheek and turned.It was Bathsheba's breath - she had followed him, and was looking into the same chink.'

Far From The Madding Crowd is full of 'peeping tom' moments where characters watch each other through hedges,chinks and doors! This moment is beautifully laid out, the metaphor 'zephyr' registers the magic of Bathsheba's physicality...even more, her very breath, her life force enchants Oak. She is as special and magical to Oak as any legend from the Greeks. The simplicity of this shared watching explores their natural equality and the unconscious attraction of Bathsheba for Oak. How beautifully erotic is this scene and yet how it reveals their hesitancy and delay.

Hardy allows Bathsheba her eventual happiness which is rare indeed in the so-called 'great' novels, and he is also astute in granting Bathsheba autonomy in characterisation. She remains true to her perverse, challenging self and we do not see a shadowy, chastened figure at the end, though this Bathsheba has learnt about consequences!
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