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The Return of the Native (Wordsworth Classics) [Paperback]

Thomas Hardy
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 Feb 1995 Wordsworth Classics

This Wordsworth Edition includes an exclusive Introduction and Notes by Claire Seymour, University of Kent at Canterbury.

The Return of the Native is widely recognised as the most representative of Hardy's Wessex novels. He evokes the dismal presence and menacing beauty of Egdon Heath - reaching out to touch the lives and fate of all who dwell on it. The central figure is Clym Yeobright, the returning ‘native’ and the story tells of his love for the beautiful but capricious Eustacia Vye.

As the narrative unfolds and character after character is driven to self-destruction the presence of the Heath becomes all-embracing, while Clym becomes a travelling preacher in an attempt to assuage his guilt.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Wordsworth Editions Ltd; New Ed edition (1 Feb 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1853262382
  • ISBN-13: 978-1853262388
  • Product Dimensions: 2.3 x 12.5 x 19.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 67,808 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Thomas Hardy was born in a cottage in Higher Bockhampton, near Dorchester, on 2 June 1840. He was educated locally and at sixteen was articled to a Dorchester architect, John Hicks. In 1862 he moved to London and found employment with another architect, Arthur Blomfield. He now began to write poetry and published an essay. By 1867 he had returned to Dorset to work as Hicks's assistant and began his first (unpublished) novel, The Poor Man and the Lady.

On an architectural visit to St Juliot in Cornwall in 1870 he met his first wife, Emma Gifford. Before their marriage in 1874 he had published four novels and was earning his living as a writer. More novels followed and in 1878 the Hardys moved from Dorset to the London literary scene. But in 1885, after building his house at Max Gate near Dorchester, Hardy again returned to Dorset. He then produced most of his major novels: The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886), The Woodlanders (1887), Tess of the D'Urbervilles (1891), The Pursuit of the Well-Beloved (1892) 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.

After a long and bitter estrangement, Emma Hardy died at Max Gate in 1912. Paradoxically, the event triggered some of Hardy's finest love poetry. In 1914, however, he married Florence Dugdale, a close friend for several years. In 1910 he had been awarded the Order of Merit and was recognized, even revered, as the major literary figure of the time. He died on 11 January 1928. His ashes were buried in Westminster Abbey and his heart at Stinsford in Dorset.

Product Description

About the Author

Teaches English at the University of Georgia

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars *mmmmm* 24 Nov 2010
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Fab book, of course.

That man could read the phone book and it'd be a best seller.
Seriously, BUY THIS.
You will not regret it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very fine novel 29 May 2008
By Greshon
I had to read this one at university, ten years ago, and it was my first taste of Hardy. I found it quite difficult to get though at first, mainly due to those long Hardy sentences, but undoubtedly it is a very fine novel, full of haunting and powerful images. I love, in particular, the way that Egdon Heath becomes almost a living, breathing entity.

The description of the Native's mother walking on the Heath in the scorching sun is one of the best pieces of writing I have read in the English language, and has stayed with me, as other vivid images from the book have done - even if I can't remember exactly how they fit in with the rets of the novel.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
It took me a while to love this book. It was a set text for my A-levels, which is never the best way to meet a book, and the first chapter was not exactly encouraging. Hardy's language, which is filled with allusions to classical mythology, takes some getting used to. And the first chapter is entirely about a heath. Egdon Heath, and some references to obscure mythology for good measure. Throughout the school year, it grew on me - what melodramatic sixteen year old girl would not identify with melodramatic seventeen-year-old Eustacia Vye? - but it wasn't until I took it out in the sun and just simply read it without it being interrupted by class discussions that suddenly I realised I loved this book!

Rerurn of the Native is the story of two mismatched couples and a mother-in-law. Clym is the returning native, back from selling diamonds in Paris and disillusioned with that world. To Eustacia, who longs for excitement, he represents escape. Thomasin is Clym's cousin, a sweet country girl who has got herself entangled with Damon Wildeve, local rake. Oh, and Eustacia and Wildeve have history. And then there is Diggory Venn, an impoverished 'reddleman' (whose job it is to paint the colours on sheep!) one step outside society, who is Thomasin's staunchest and secret advocate.

I loved - if that's the right word - Eustacia's conflicts with Mrs. Yeobright, Clym's mother. The relationship between these two proud women, and a rather oblivious son, really rings true. The characterisation overall is fantastic, and every character is three-dimensional. We watch them fall out over misunderstandings and conflicts of interest, all the while empathising with each party. Even Wildeve, although you've got to love to hate him too.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Ballast to the mind adrift on change" 6 Feb 2012
By Nicholas Casley TOP 500 REVIEWER
I do not give away any details of the plot in this review of the Penguin Classics edition. This edition comprises the original three-volume version of 1878; the work had previously been published in twelve monthly instalments in `The Belgravia' magazine in the same year. (Hardy regularly made changes to his texts in subsequent editions.) The Penguin Classics set tries to use the original text, "to present each novel as the creation of its own period and without revisions of later times."

I've read Dostoevsky and Tolstoy, Mann and Zweig, Conrad and Trollope, but this is the first time I have read any work of Thomas Hardy. And this was inspired by a Christmas holiday in Dorset close to where Hardy wrote the novel and close too to many of the places in which it is set. (A friend spent much of his childhood living at the Silent Woman Inn on the heath road between Wareham and Bere Regis.) And I must say how impressed I was with the first chapter. Here's an example therefrom of Hardy's descriptive powers:

"To recline on a stump of thorn in the central valley of Egdon, between afternoon and night, as now, where the eye could reach nothing of the world outside the summits and shoulders of heathland which filled the whole circumference of its glance, and to know that everything around and underneath had been from prehistoric times as unaltered as the stars overhead, gave ballast to the mind adrift on change, and harassed by the irrepressible New."

The story is of three men and two women circling each other in a dance of fate and circumstance in rural Dorset. At some points, for example Book 2, chapter 7, it has vestiges of a farce, but I cannot comment as to whether this was Hardy's intention.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By Jeremy Bevan TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Mass Market Paperback
First published in instalments in 1878, The Return of the Native is still an immensely readable and engaging story well over a century later. It's the tale of how the return to Egdon Heath (a fictionalised version of Dorset's Canford Heath) of native son Clym Yeobright affects the lives of those around him: proud, bored romantic Eustacia Vye (whom he marries despite the continuing attentions of fickle suitor Damon Wildeve); his mother; and his cousin Thomasin. It's also the story of how the Heath itself exercises a brooding power over the individuals and events that are encompassed within its boundaries.

Like so many of Hardy's novels, its deeper themes are tradition and change, passionate individuals and the impersonal forces that imperil and doom them. I don't think The Return of the Native is Hardy's best novel, though: too much flows from coincidence, mischance and eavesdropping for it to have the sense of a true tragedy, in which the characters' fates spring fundamentally and inexorably from their own failings. And those characters are uneven, too: I found Eustacia hard to like, Clym earnest rather than appealing. Some of the depictions are actually quite thin - a few deft brush-strokes rather than a finished oil painting - and whilst they are not all `types' by any means, they're sometimes, like Diggory Venn for example, more `caught up in events they have half-consciously set in motion, reacting inarticulately' (Introduction, 21) than they are actants with any real 'body' to them.

Nonetheless, Hardy's sober worldview is every bit as clear in The Return of the Native as in, for example, The Mayor of Casterbridge. We are victims of ourselves, natural laws and chance.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Oh Dear!
I reluctantly read this book for a Book Club meeting, expecting it, as one of Thomas Hardy's books, to be tedious and it was! Read more
Published 3 months ago by Mrs S Rickerby
4.0 out of 5 stars Revisiting Hardy.
Returning, like the native, to Hardy's novels, after a 60-year break, I find I'm not as enthusiastic as I was - but I haven't finished it yet, so it's too early for a considered... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Dr. David Rands
5.0 out of 5 stars Great
i got this book for my english literature coursework. the pages are a good thickness for writing notes in the margins without causing tearing or imprints on other pages. Read more
Published 8 months ago by cassandra
5.0 out of 5 stars Pure bliss !
Complete and unabridged.

The beauty of Thomas Hardy's language, his amazing talant for description, an intriguing story and very powerful story. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Cat28
5.0 out of 5 stars Thomas Hardy Novels - CD's
Bought as a gift for a friend requiring it for car-playing. Well-satisfied. Too often downloads are the only thing available. CD's still needed for car use! Read more
Published 12 months ago by Gwendoline Burman
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully descriptive writing
It's a real pleasure to read a book written by a classic writer. I hadn't realised how much more enjoyable it makes reading! Read more
Published 12 months ago by Diana
4.0 out of 5 stars Great read
It took a while to get into this book compared to some other Thomas Hardy novels but have really enjoyed it. A great read.
Published 12 months ago by kmb
5.0 out of 5 stars The Golden Child of Egdon Heath
Let me make this clear, the five star rating is for Alan Rickman's efforts. Complete mastery of the narration and characters without the slightest strain on the voice. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Officer Dibble
5.0 out of 5 stars Great characters
This is a very good book, despite Hardy displaying his tendency to use over-elaborate prose. There are so many different descriptions of Egdon Heath- each blade of grass, each... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Donald Hughes
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book
I have wanted this book for years, pleased to receive it in such excellent condition.
Looking forward to reading it
Published 16 months ago by Ann Herbert
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