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Paula's vacillation, however, is not only romantic. Her ambiguity regarding religion, politics and social progress is a reflection of the author's own. This new Penguin Classics edition of Hardy's text contains an introduction and notes that illuminate and clarify these themes, and draws parallels between the text and the author's life and views.
Grace Melbury, the only daughter of a timber-merchant, arrives home in Little Hintock after an expensive education and her father looks to find a husband for her. There are two rivals for her hand: Giles Winterborne, a good-hearted yeoman and her childhood sweetheart, and Edred Fitzpiers, an ambitious young doctor of good family. Fitzpiers wins her, but the mismatch brings unhappiness not just to the young couple, but to a wider circle in the woodland community.
‘The Woodlanders’ is one of Hardy’s most powerful works and the one he liked best. With brooding sexual undertones, it addresses themes about which the author held strong views – the laws of divorce, the inequalities of society, and the uncertainty of land tenure.
‘Under the Greenwood Tree’ is a tale of love, tragedy and the changing charm of traditional village life when it is met with the cold reality of modernity.
Centring on the quaint rural village of Mellstock, set deep within Hardy’s imagined and picturesque county of Wessex, the novel revolves around a double plot of the hopeful love story of Dick Dewey and Fancy Day and the tragic demise of the Mellstock Choir, and what the crumbling of long-held traditions means to the local community. The arrival of Mr Maybold, a new vicar with newfangled ideas, unsettles the local community with ideas of revolutionary change, in which the church and its generations-old choir are an anchor.
Considered one of Hardy’s most upbeat and optimistic novels, ‘Under the Greenwood Tree’ explores issues of past and future, hope and love, and is a delightful addition to the Collins’ canon of Thomas Hardy’s classic novels.
‘The movements of his mind seemed to tend to the thought that some power was working against him.’
When Henchard, an out-of-work hay-trusser gets drunk and sells his wife at a country fair, his life will never be the same. Eighteen years later, his wife and daughter return to Casterbridge to find that Henchard has become Mayor. Although he’s spent most of his life attempting to repent for his actions, he remains a rash and impetuous man. Hardy portrays Henchard as a tragic hero, searching for love and acceptance from the community around him, posing the overarching question of whether we shape our own fate, or whether life deals us an inevitable hand.
‘I shall do one thing in this life – one thing certain – that is, love you, and long for you, and keep wanting you till I die’
Independent and spirited, Bathsheba Everdene owns the hearts of three men. Striving to win her love in different ways, their relationships with Bathsheba complicate her life in bucolic Wessex – and cast shadows over their own. With the morals and expectations of rural society weighing heavily upon her, Bathsheba experiences the torture of unrequited love and betrayal, and discovers how random acts of chance and tragedy can dramatically alter life’s course.
The first of Hardy’s novels to become a major literary success, Far from the Madding Crowd explores what it means to live and to love.
This book is published by Booklassic which brings young readers closer to classic literature globally.
A jealous lover's curse and an ingenious party trick feature in these two suspenseful stories set in Hardy's imaginary Wessex.
One of 46 new books in the bestselling Little Black Classics series, to celebrate the first ever Penguin Classic in 1946. Each book gives readers a taste of the Classics' huge range and diversity, with works from around the world and across the centuries - including fables, decadence, heartbreak, tall tales, satire, ghosts, battles and elephants.
Epic in scale, War and Peace delineates in graphic detail events leading up to Napoleon’s invasion of Russia, and the impact of the Napoleonic era on Tsarist society, as seen through the eyes of five Russian aristocratic families.
As Muldoon writes, "It's almost impossible to think of a world in which The Waste Land did not exist. So profound has its influence been not only on twentieth-century poetry but on how we’ve come to view the century as a whole, the poem itself risks being taken for granted." Famously elliptical, wildly allusive, at once transcendent and bleak, The Waste Land defined modernity after the First World War, forever transforming our understanding of ourselves, the broken world we live in, and the literature that was meant to make sense of it. In a voice that is arch, ironic, almost ebullient, and yet world-weary and tragic, T. S. Eliot mixes and remixes, drawing on a cast of ghosts to create a new literature for a new world. In the words of Edmund Wilson, "Eliot…is one of our only authentic poets…[The Waste Land is] one triumph after another."
The following story, the first published by the author, was written nineteen years ago, at a time when he was feeling his way to a method. The principles observed in its composition are, no doubt, too exclusively those in which mystery, entanglement, surprise, and moral obliquity are depended on for exciting interest; but some of the scenes, and at least one of the characters, have been deemed not unworthy of a little longer preservation; and as they could hardly be reproduced in a fragmentary form the novel is reissued complete—the more readily that it has for some considerable time been reprinted and widely circulated in America. January 1889.
To the foregoing note I have only to add that, in the present edition of 'Desperate Remedies,' some Wessex towns and other places that are common to the scenes of several of these stories have been called for the first time by the names under which they appear elsewhere, for the satisfaction of any reader who may care for consistency in such matters.
This is the only material change; for, as it happened that certain characteristics which provoked most discussion in my latest story were present in this my first—published in 1871, when there was no French name for them it has seemed best to let them stand unaltered.
T.H. February 1896.
The person who, next to the actors themselves, chanced to know most of their story, lived just below ‘Top o’ Town’ (as the spot was called) in an old substantially-built house, distinguished among its neighbours by having an oriel window on the first floor, whence could be obtained a raking view of the High Street, west and east, the former including Laura’s dwelling, the end of the Town Avenue hard by (in which were played the odd pranks hereafter to be mentioned), the Port-Bredy road rising westwards, and the turning that led to the cavalry barracks where the Captain was quartered. Looking eastward down the town from the same favoured gazebo, the long perspective of houses declined and dwindled till they merged in the highway across the moor. The white riband of road disappeared over Grey’s Bridge a quarter of a mile off, to plunge into innumerable rustic windings, shy shades, and solitary undulations up hill and down dale for one hundred and twenty miles till it exhibited itself at Hyde Park Corner as a smooth bland surface in touch with a busy and fashionable world.
To the barracks aforesaid had recently arrived the ---th Hussars, a regiment new to the locality. Almost before any acquaintance with its members had been made by the townspeople, a report spread that they were a ‘crack’ body of men, and had brought a splendid band. For some reason or other the town had not been used as the headquarters of cavalry for many years, the various troops stationed there having consisted of casual detachments only; so that it was with a sense of honour that everybody—even the small furniture-broker from whom the married troopers hired tables and chairs—received the news of their crack quality.
The date at which the following events are assumed to have occurred may be set down as between 1840 and 1850, when the old watering place herein called "Budmouth" still retained sufficient afterglow from its Georgian gaiety and prestige to lend it an absorbing attractiveness to the romantic and imaginative soul of a lonely dweller inland.
Under the general name of "Egdon Heath," which has been given to the sombre scene of the story, are united or typified heaths of various real names, to the number of at least a dozen; these being virtually one in character and aspect, though their original unity, or partial unity, is now somewhat disguised by intrusive strips and slices brought under the plough with varying degrees of success, or planted to woodland.
It is pleasant to dream that some spot in the extensive tract whose southwestern quarter is here described, may be the heath of that traditionary King of Wessex—Lear.
I bade good morrow,
And thought to leave her far away behind;
But cheerly, cheerly,
She loves me dearly;
She is so constant to me, and so kind.
I would deceive her,
And so leave her,
But ah! she is so constant and so kind."
It was half-past four o’clock (by the testimony of the land-surveyor, my authority for the particulars of this story, a gentleman with the faintest curve of humour on his lips); it was half-past four o’clock on a May morning in the eighteen forties. A dense white fog hung over the Valley of the Exe, ending against the hills on either side.
But though nothing in the vale could be seen from higher ground, notes of differing kinds gave pretty clear indications that bustling life was going on there. This audible presence and visual absence of an active scene had a peculiar effect above the fog level. Nature had laid a white hand over the creatures ensconced within the vale, as a hand might be laid over a nest of chirping birds.
The noises that ascended through the pallid coverlid were perturbed lowings, mingled with human voices in sharps and flats, and the bark of a dog. These, followed by the slamming of a gate, explained as well as eyesight could have done, to any inhabitant of the district, that Dairyman Tucker’s under-milker was driving the cows from the meads into the stalls. When a rougher accent joined in the vociferations of man and beast, it would have been realized that the dairy-farmer himself had come out to meet the cows, pail in hand, and white pinafore on; and when, moreover, some women’s voices joined in the chorus, that the cows were stalled and proceedings about to commence.