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Thread: Tess re-read

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    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    Tess re-read

    I am re-reading Tess, only I am reading the 1891 version, which is the first book edition. Hardy made quite a few changes to his books, quite a lot of them important. Anyway, my first impressions this time around is how well it is written. It is the best bit of Victorian writing I have read in a long while. Last time I read it, despite the good writing, I found it sick. *SPOILER* The worst part for me was not only was Tess executed, she was damned. That was the way I read it. The supernatural may or may not exist in the real world, but it does in the Wessex world. In the first chapter after Tess is raped or whatever, she meets a travelling religious graffitti artist on the road. He writes "Thy, damnation, slumbereth, not" on some bit of wood. Last time I read the book, I came to the conclusion Tess was damned long after reading this part. Not because of the extramarital sex, but because Angel Clare destroyed her simple faith. That's the way I read it.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

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    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    How did you get this early version? You are able now to compare it with later ones.
    I love Tess, though I also get indignant we the book.

    One thing I like about Hardy, is his sensibility about the female condition. I am thinking specially about three wonderful portrayals of Womem: Tess, Susi Brideshead (Jude the Obscure) and Eustacia Vye (The Return of the Native). He shows how these women are in a sense, victims of their condition, because they have own wishes and desires and donīt easily conform to convention.

    In this sense, Tess is maybe more doomed than damned, though I agree with you that the psychological harm was bigger than the physical one. Without having her "Angel" by her side, who arrives to late, and out of poverty, she falls pray again to the same man who seduced her as a young girl. The outcome though is quite unusual for the time I think.
    #Stay home as much as you can and stay well

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    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    Not qualified to know how Hardy portrays the female condition. I liked Eustacia Vye. I have not read Jude the Obscure. I saw the film version with Kate Winslet as Sue Brideshead, but I am not sure everything in the book about her came across. Kate Winslet is from Reading, or Altbrickham as it is in the Wessex world.

    I think Penguin publishes the 1891 edition. I have a clothbound edition. I do not know if the other Penguin editions are also based on the 1891 edition. I know the Oxford World Classics included most of Hardy's later changes, which continued to 1912 I think. In the notes of my copy, it keeps referring to various other editions of the story, including the magazine serialization in The Graphic, the 1892 edition, the manuscript and what the editor describes as Ur-Tess, although the heroine in that is called Sue.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

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    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    You are probably very qualified to write about it, having read so much Victorian Fiction. I think Hardy went a big step further, thatīs why he generated so much controversy. I recommend Jude the Obscure. Though it is a very sombre book, I think it is one of his best.
    #Stay home as much as you can and stay well

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    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    I am enjoying my Tess re-read more than the first time around. The first time around I was distracted by all the rustic words, ecclesiastic and classical references. It is very well written.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

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    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    I like the book very much ! Haardy`s sensibility for feminine themes was unusually progressive for these still Victorian days. And it seems he was seen by some of the critics as a kind of intellectual peasant.
    #Stay home as much as you can and stay well

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    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    Nearly half way through. Angel keeps pressing Tess to marry him. It is strange, knowing what comes next, to wonder what the first readers were anticipating at this point of the story. Angel seems such a pleasant man, possibly a bit priggish. His lack of religion may have worried some Victorian readers. They would see they had still more than half the book to read, so Tess and Angel cannot just get married and live happily ever after. It seems unlikely they would both just get on the boat to America and start a farm. Alec d'Urberville was mentioned once or twice, so that's a hint he would be involved again. I don't know whether the first readers would have felt any sense of dread of what was going to happen. It is possible they had all got wind of what happened because the book was released in editions of Cornhill Magazine before it was published as a book.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

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    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    More than half way through. I am a slow reader. One thing about Tess is there is not a lot of happiness in it. Most the happiness was in the phase 3, The Rally, in which Tess and Angel are getting to know each other at Talbothy's dairy. There are still good chapters in the second half in the book, but poor Tess is persecuted by fate. Sometimes I don't feel like picking it up.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

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    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    Yes, it is a sad story. But "Jude" is worse.
    #Stay home as much as you can and stay well

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