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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beauty, tragedy, innocence and an unforgiving society.
This is a novel so saturated with emotion it is almost too much just to read it. The plot revolves around the eponymous heroine, Tess Durbeyfield, a young and innocent girl who plunges headfirst into adulthood by giving birth to an illegitimate child. Tess is immediately condemned by a cruel society and her unavoidable fate is dragged out in heart wrenching detail by...
Published on 11 Sep 2001 by C. Arnold

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Storyline is fine but without the depth of the book
I read the first 3 first chapters of the book and listened to rest on the CD. I really enjoyed the nice English language in the book and the slow development of the story. I guess I should have bought the unabridged version on CD. There is a clear effort to keep the rich writing style going, however somehow this short double CD comes down to getting through the facts of...
Published 5 months ago by Bert


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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beauty, tragedy, innocence and an unforgiving society., 11 Sep 2001
By 
C. Arnold (Tamworth, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This is a novel so saturated with emotion it is almost too much just to read it. The plot revolves around the eponymous heroine, Tess Durbeyfield, a young and innocent girl who plunges headfirst into adulthood by giving birth to an illegitimate child. Tess is immediately condemned by a cruel society and her unavoidable fate is dragged out in heart wrenching detail by Hardy. What is most interesting about the novel is the author's obvious love for his character, and it is fascinating to imagine Hardy wishing for a happy ending just like the reader, yet at the same time knowing that he is unable to help Tess, his own creation. Everyone should read this novel, it has romance, murder, tragedy, injustice, intricate social commentary, and an intoxicating melancholia. The character of Tess is so well conceived by Hardy, she appears so realistic that the reader finds themselves weeping tears for her as if she were a loved one. Persevere with Hardy's somewhat lengthy descriptions of the surrounding landscape and you will find this novel to be as beautifully perfect as I did.
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56 of 63 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars if you're an adolescent ... or still feel like one..., 3 Nov 2006
By 
Robert Machin (Hampshire, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I have to give Tess five stars because no book I have read before or since has moved me to such a degree. Thirty years later I still have my original copy, entirely disintegrated, the glue dissolved, in part I'm sure by my hot adolescent tears. It simply tore me apart - I remember in particular strugggling to finish Tess's letter from Flintcomb-Ash through eyes fogged with grief and that after finishing the book I was well-nigh inconsolable for days. I spent the following summer touring the Dorset locations on my bicycle as a kind of pilgrimage, and remember those cruel hills pretty well too.

But having said that, I was sixteen at the time and emotionally wide open. Reading it five years later, I could hardly get past the clumsiness and infelicities in the writing and the crude manipulation and melodrama of the plot. How could I have fallen for this? Reading it again another ten years further on I better understood the theatricality of it - it should be read in some ways like the old ballads with which Hardy was very familiar, with their highly exaggerated representations of good and evil - but the magic had gone.

Maybe the key is that Tess is a book written by an emotional adolescent - Hardy was a writer who arguably never really grew up, and his own relationships seem to bear this out - which speaks most forcefully to other adolescents. The melodrama and the suffering, the torment and the injustice which Tess is put through really are meat and drink to the average sensitive sixteen year old, but seem perhaps a bit foolish in retrospect.

But this isn't really a criticism. 'Tess' is by far the greatest of Hardy's novels and the high point of his career as a novelist (Jude the Obscure would tip over into self parody) and is written with a rare passion - Hardy said that he loved Tess and, although he perhaps had a funny way of showing it, his depth of feeling for his creation really comes through. Like 'The Catcher in the Rye', if you're in the right demographic - a sixteen year old or someone who still feels like one - you're going to love it. If not, you may wonder what all the fuss is about and should perhaps move straight on to Dickens.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars tess of the d'urbevilles is a beautiful tale of tragedy, 21 Aug 1998
By A Customer
Tess of the D'Urbevilles, by Thomas Hardy, is a wonderful novel, which tragically and poignantly follows the ill-fated life of its heroine, Tess Durbeyfield. Through his exquisite use of imagery, his reflection of Tess in nature, and the continuing thread of tragedy which he weaves throughout the novel, Hardy is able to present to us one of the most memorable figures in English literature. Despite her sincerity and integrity, Tess is forever destined for disappointment, and Hardy's immensely lucid and descriptive writing allows the reader to appreciate this. I would recommend this tremendous piece of fiction to any readers interested in reading the work of a brilliant Victorian author, or for those who appreciate the paradox of sadness and beauty represented in the figure of a strong protagonist.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tragic force, 8 Mar 1999
By A Customer
'Tess' is a tragedy of sheer power - the reader at once becomes a companion to her plight and a friend in her solitude. A powerful emotional bond is created by Hardy; he leaves the reader totally alone at the end of the novel, sparing no emotion. The clarity, at times, is disturbed by the time period and slight linguistic idiosyncrasies, but the story remains completely unscathed: a tale of a young woman, corrupted, ruined, and left with nothing by fate.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The top, the point, the great devine - beyond romanticism, 3 Oct 2003
It'd been a while since I read a truly magnificent book. My last "#1 in drama" held its position firmly for about 10 years (Het oog van de engel by Nelleke Noordervliet - in Dutch, that is), despite the fact that quite a few books have passed (most notably the books by Yoko Ogawa, unfortunately only translated in French). Douglas Adams' books, Catch 22 and Stephen Fry's The Liar were supreme, but in an entirely different category. But now there's Tess, which, as far a drama goes, is a non sequitur.
Of course there's the top layer of romantic/pastoral drama, but that's just the surface. The real bliss here lies in the fact that is doesn't classify as a classic story in the romantic tradition at all, a fact which expresses itself in the way the story is told. The switching between romantic musings suddenly shattered by harsh commentaries or switched to an almost documentary description of the surroundings keeps you alert to the story, which might be drawn out, but that's the point - you've got to live with Tess. That's the only way to get into her character, because Hardy simply never takes a stand, and that's one of the secrets of the book. Ok, difficult now to imagine people acting so stupid because of moral conventions, but that's the only hurdle to take (however - look around you). Despite the fact that there's this really romantic "back to nature" message in it all (which strangly does not convey itself in the depiction of the life of Tess, but rather, in de description of the Dorset countryside), there's simply no denying that Hardy's way of writing has one foot firmly in de industrial era, delivering a comment on it - attacking it with its own weapons, mixing his anger with his (o so clear between the lines) love for the main character, with her with qualities and her flaws. Don't miss out on this one.
Stupid that it's been waiting for me for more than a century. Hands down 5 stars.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A touching story..., 19 Mar 2001
By A Customer
The second time I read this book I found it much more distressing. Throughout I could see the many small instances where if things had been only a little different then Tess's tragedies could have been avoided.
There is a lot of Thomas Hardy in this book - Angel's attitudes to religion, for example, closely mirror Hardys own struggles with his beliefs and rejection of Christianity. If you have an interest in Hardy's life and his beliefs then you may find this element of the book an added attraction.
This a very touching book. A little difficult in places, but well worth persisting with.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I could tell that Hardy genuinely cared about Tess to the point where I could easily think she was actually a real person., 24 Aug 2011
I really enjoyed this book. I had previously read The Mayor Of Casterbridge at school (15 years ago) and it has always stayed with me so I thought I would give Tess a try to see if Thomas Hardy could move me with another of his books and he sure did! I love the fact that even though his books were written a long long time ago the subject matter is still applicable today. I could really empathise with Tess, her independance, high morals & sheer stubborness reminds me of me. I could tell that Hardy genuinely cared about Tess to the point where I could easily think she was actually a real person.
I like how Hardy's novels are not happy endings, they are tragic but true to life.
I am going to read Jude of the obscure next and hope it measures up against these two.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A torturing but addictive read, 25 July 1999
By A Customer
I think most people might be embarrassed trying to judge a book as good as this, in fear they might not give Hardy the praise he rightfully deserves. The beginning of the tale is one of the only comical parts of the story. But the reader will, as the story unfolds be clenching his teeth at the apparent decline of basically every character in the story. The scenes which unfold are so graphic in their immense intensity that you can almost smell the air around in which these characters breathe.
Hardy truly immortalises the Dorset, Wiltshire countryside that the story is set. The story is torturing since it is essentially about a simple country girl where everything goes wrong for her despite her innocence and loyalty to the people who live around her, and who inflict the havoc in her life. The pleasure comes from the gripping way in which Hardy writes, and the atmosphere and impressions he constantly envisages on the reader.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you're an adolescent - or still feel like one..., 4 Sep 2008
By 
Robert Machin (Hampshire, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I have to give Tess five stars because no other book I have ever read has moved me to such a degree. Thirty years later I still have my original copy, entirely disintegrated, the glue dissolved, very possibly by my hot adolescent tears. It simply tore me apart - I remember in particular struggling to finish Tess's letter from Flintcomb-Ash through eyes blurred with grief, and that after finishing the book I was well-nigh inconsolable for days. I spent the following summer touring the Dorset locations on my bicycle as a kind of pilgrimage, and remember those cruel hills pretty well too.

But having said that, I was sixteen at the time and emotionally wide open. Reading it just five years later, I could hardly get past the clumsiness and infelicities in the writing and the crude manipulation and melodrama of the plot. How could I have fallen for this? Reading it again another ten years further on I better understood the theatricality of it - it should be read in some ways like the old ballads with which Hardy was very familiar, with their highly exaggerated representations of good and evil - but the magic had gone.

Maybe the key is that Tess is a book written by an emotional adolescent - Hardy was a writer who arguably never really grew up, and his own relationships seem to bear this out - which speaks most forcefully to other adolescents. The melodrama and the suffering, the torment and the injustice which Tess is put through really are meat and drink to the average sensitive adolescent, but seem perhaps a bit foolish in retrospect.

But this isn't really a criticism. 'Tess' is by far the greatest of Hardy's novels and the high point of his career as a novelist (Jude the Obscure would tip over into self parody) and is written with a rare passion - Hardy said that he loved Tess and, although he perhaps had a funny way of showing it, his depth of feeling for his creation really comes through. Like 'The Catcher in the Rye', if you're in the right demographic - a sixteen year old or someone who still feels like one - you're going to love it. If not, you may wonder what all the fuss is about and should perhaps move straight on to Dickens.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It could be a "challenge" - but very worth it!, 12 Nov 2007
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I've only quite recently discovered the work of Thomas Hardy - and I must say I feel I missed-out not being introduced to this author during my schooldays!
This novel is a work of real beauty and deep spiritual symbolism - but perhaps not for someone just wanting a bit of "light" reading! Although I've been a lifelong fan of Austen, Bronte and Dickens, this book took me to new heights in respect of vocabulary and beauty of expression. It took me ages to read ...but, after a "rest" spell with other authors - I'm ready for more!
One to savour .... s-l-o-w-l-y.
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Tess of the d'Urbervilles (Wordsworth Classics)
Tess of the d'Urbervilles (Wordsworth Classics) by Thomas Hardy (Paperback - 7 Jun 1992)
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