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Tess of the D'Urbervilles
Thomas Hardy


REFERENCE

THE CRITICS

ON TESS' CHARACTER

She (Tess) can flirt, she can listen, she can sympathize, she can work with her hands. Except when it is mocked or thwarted, she is superbly at ease with her sexuality. In no way an intellectual, she has a clear sense of how to reject whatever fanatic or pious nonsense comes her way.... Her womanly softness does not keep her from clear judgments, even toward her beloved Angel she can sometimes be blunt.... At least twice in the book Tess seems to Hardy and the surrounding characters larger than life, but in all such instances it is not to make her a goddess or a metaphor, it is to understand her embattled womanliness.

Irving Howe, Thomas Hardy, 1967

ON TESS' RELATIONSHIP TO ALEC AND ANGEL

The female in her was indomitable, unchangeable, she was utterly constant to herself. But she was, by long breeding, intact from mankind. Though Alec d'Urberville was of no kin to her, yet, in the book, he has always a quality of kinship. It was as if only a kinsman, an aristocrat, could approach her. And this to her undoing. Angel Clare would never have reached her... It needed a physical aristocrat.... Alec d'Urberville forced her to realize him, and to realize herself.

D.H. Lawrence, "A Study of Thomas Hardy," 1936

ON ANGEL AND ALEC

Angel and Alec appear as figures of Victorian society hovering around Tess, but misunderstanding her, unworthy of her, unable to match her natural strength and spontaneity.... Both are statements about the principal character types of the Victorian middle class- the cruel bourgeois and the disinherited intellectual: both are without roots, both show a split between thought and feeling, both lack an adequate image of selfhood.

Albert J. LaValley, Twentieth Century Interpretations of Tess of the d'Urbervilles, 1969.

NATURE IN TESS

By constructing the Tess-universe on the solid ground... of the earth as Final Cause, mysterious cause of causes, Hardy does not allow us to forget that what is most concrete in experience is also what is most inscrutable, that an overturned clod in a field or the posture of herons standing in a water mead or the shadow of cows thrown against a wall by evening sunlight are as essentially fathomless as the procreative yearning, and this in turn as fathomless as the sheerest accident in event. The accidentalism and coincidentalism in the narrative pattern of the book stand, thus, in perfectly orderly correlation with the grounding mystery of the physically concrete and the natural.

Dorothy Van Ghent, "On Tess of the d'Urbervilles" in The English Novel: Form and Function, 1953.

SOCIAL IMPLICATIONS OF TESS

Hardy sets the culminating family tragedy against the ominous background of the Lady Day migration of so many village folk. The erasure of long local life by these contemporary migrations, Hardy perceived, was a grave social and spiritual loss. It is no accident of art that the story of Tess should end amid scenes of uprooting.... Only a place in the family vault, a home there, remains to the derelict inheritors [the Durbeyfields]. It is this homeless despair of a family which has lost its rights and independence in the village community, that gives Tess finally into the invader's power.

Douglas Brown: Social and Individual Fate in Tess from Thomas Hardy, 1961.

TESS AND THE COLOR RED

For an artist as visually sensitive as Hardy, colour is of the first importance and significance, and there is one colour which literary catches the eye, and is meant to catch it, throughout the book. This colour is red, the colour of blood, which is associated with Tess from first to last. It dogs her, disturbs her, destroys her. She is full of it, she spills it, she loses it. Watching Tess' life we begin to see that her destiny is nothing more or less than the colour red.

Tony Tanner, "Colour and Movement in Tess of the d'Urbervilles" in R. P. Draper's Hardy- The Tragic Novels, 1975.

ON HARDY THE WRITER

Not only the "modern" novelist is prey to tensions and ambivalences, and to radical divergences of feeling and belief, sympathy and judgment. The most important tension for Hardy- the very heart of his aesthetic in fact- was the simple desire to juxtapose plausible human beings and strange uncommon events, the real and the fantastic.... Hardy was a conscious anti-realist, opposed to the documentary and the drab, in spite of his minute fidelity to the physical world. He knew that all great art is a disproportioning....

Albert J. Guerard, Hardy: A Collection of Critical Essays, 1963.

[Tess of the D'Urbervilles Contents]


ADVISORY BOARD

We wish to thank the following educators who helped us focus our Book Notes series to meet student needs and critiqued our manuscripts to provide quality materials.

Murray Bromberg, Principal
Wang High School of Queens, Holliswood, New York

Sandra Dunn, English Teacher
Hempstead High School, Hempstead, New York

Lawrence J. Epstein, Associate Professor of English
Suffolk County Community College, Selden, New York

Leonard Gardner, Lecturer, English Department
State University of New York at Stony Brook

Beverly A. Haley, Member, Advisory Committee
National Council of Teachers of English Student Guide Series
Fort Morgan, Colorado

Elaine C. Johnson, English Teacher
Tamalpais Union High School District
Mill Valley, California

Marvin J. LaHood, Professor of English
State University of New York College at Buffalo

Robert Lecker, Associate Professor of English
McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

David E. Manly, Professor of Educational Studies
State University of New York College at Geneseo

Bruce Miller, Associate Professor of Education
State University of New York at Buffalo

Frank O'Hare, Professor of English
Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio

Faith Z. Schullstrom, Member of Executive Committee
National Council of Teachers of English
Director of Curriculum and Instruction
Guilderland Central School District, New York

Mattie C. Williams, Director, Bureau of Language Arts
Chicago Public Schools, Chicago, Illinois

[Tess of the D'Urbervilles Contents]


BIBLIOGRAPHY

FURTHER READING
CRITICAL WORKS

Brown, Douglas. Thomas Hardy. New York: Longmans, Green, 1954.

Draper, R. P. Hardy: The Tragic Novels. New York: Macmillan, 1975.

Guerard, Albert J. Thomas Hardy: The Novels and Stories. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1949.

Guerard, Albert J., ed. Thomas Hardy: A Collection of Critical Essays. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1963.

Halliday, F. E. Thomas Hardy: His Life and Work. Bath, Great Britain: Adams and Dart, 1972.

Howe, Irving. Thomas Hardy. New York: Macmillan, 1967

Laird, J. T. The Shaping of Tess of the d'Urbervilles. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1975.

LaValley, Albert J., ed. Twentieth Century Interpretations of Tess of the d'Urbervilles. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1969.

Lawrence, D. H. "A Study of Thomas Hardy" in Phoenix. London: William Heinemann, 1936.

Van Ghent, Dorothy. "On Tess of the d'Urbervilles" in The English Novel. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1953.

AUTHOR'S OTHER WORKS

NOVELS

Desperate Remedies (1871)
Under the Greenwood Tree (1872)
A Pair of Blue Eyes (1873)
Far from the Madding Crowd (1874)
The Hand of Ethelberta (1876)
The Return of the Native (1878)
The Trumpet-Major (1880)
A Laodicean (1881)
Two on a Tower (1882)
The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886)
The Woodlanders (1887)
Jude the Obscure (1895)

STORIES

    Wessex Tales (1888)
    Life's Little Ironies (1894)

PLAYS

    The Dynasts (Parts I-III) (1904-1908)
    The Famous Tragedy of the Queen of Cornwall (1923)

POEMS

    Wessex Poems (1898)
    Time's Laughingstocks (1909)
    Moments of Vision (1917)
    Human Shows (1925)

A STEP BEYOND


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