Authors & Events
Look Inside | Reading Guide
Feb 13, 2001
| ISBN 9780375757181
Feb 01, 1982
| ISBN 9780553212693
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Nov 03, 1992
| ISBN 9780679417309
Aug 26, 2008
| ISBN 9780553905564
Nov 01, 2000
| ISBN 9780679641520
Jan 01, 1983
| 990 Minutes
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Feb 13, 2001 | ISBN 9780375757181
Feb 01, 1982 | ISBN 9780553212693
Nov 03, 1992 | ISBN 9780679417309
Aug 26, 2008 | ISBN 9780553905564
Nov 01, 2000 | ISBN 9780679641520
Jan 01, 1983 | ISBN 9781415914786
One of Thomas Hardy’s most powerful works, The Return of the Native centers famously on Egdon Heath, the wild, haunted Wessex moor that D. H. Lawrence called "the real stuff of tragedy." The heath’s changing face mirrors the fortunes of the farmers, inn-keepers, sons, mothers, and lovers who populate the novel. The "native" is Clym Yeobright, who comes home from a cosmopolitan life in Paris. He; his cousin Thomasin; her fiancé, Damon Wildeve; and the willful Eustacia Vye are the protagonists in a tale of doomed love, passion, alienation, and melancholy as Hardy brilliantly explores that theme so familiar throughout his fiction: the diabolical role of chance in determining the course of a life. As Alexander Theroux asserts in his Introduction, Hardy was "committed to the deep expression of [nature’s] ironic chaos and strange apathy, even hostility, toward man."
This fine novel sets in opposition two of Thomas Hardy’s most unforgettable creations: his heroine, the sensuous, free-spirited Eustacia Vye, and the solemn, majestic stretch of upland in Dorsetshire he called Egdon Heath. The famous opening reveals the haunting power of that dark, forbidding moor where proud Eustacia fervently awaits a clandestine meeting with her lover, Damon Wildeve. But Eustacia’s dreams of escape are not to be realized—neither Wildeve nor the returning native Clym Yeobright can bring her salvation.Injured by forces beyond their control, Hardy’s characters struggle vainly in the net of destiny. In the end, only the face of the lonely heath remains untouched by fate in this masterpiece of tragic passion, a tale that perfectly epitomizes the author’s own unique and melancholy genius.
Eustacia Vye longs to escape from Egdon Heath, but the man she chooses to save her longs to stay. Out of their struggle, the unfulfilled passion of his heroine, and the daily rhythms of late-nineteenth-century rural life, Hardy builds a drama fully worthy of the magnificent stage on which he places it. The Return of the Native is dominated by the brooding presence of Egdon Heath, located in Thomas Hardy’s imaginary Wessex, and in no other book did Hardy’s extraordinary feeling for landscape blend so perfectly with his austere, stoic vision of human fate.Once more he treats his favorite theme of the mismatched couple with masterly pathos and understatement.
The Return of the Native combines all of the great themes of Thomas Hardy’s works. Wonderful descriptions of the English countryside underscore a rural tale of doomed love, passion, and melancholy. The novel opens with the famous portrait of Egdon Heath, the wild, haunted Wessex moor that D. H. Lawrence called ‘the real stuff of tragedy’ of the book. The heath’s changing face mirrors the fortunes of the farmers, innkeepers, sons, mothers, and lovers that populate the novel. The ‘native’ is Clym Yeobright, coming home from a successful, cosmopolitan life in Paris, a place far removed from the unforgiving landscape of Egdon Heath. He finds that his cousin, Thomasin, is about to marry Damon Wildeve, a rakish and confused man with a lover, Eustacia Vye, whom he cannot forget. Eustacia is willful, ambitious, and dangerously alluring. Hardy describes her as ‘the raw material of a divinity. . . . She had Pagan eyes, full of nocturnal mysteries.’ As the characters are drawn together, they scheme and maneuver, often under the eye of Diggory Venn, the reddleman whose relentless virtue must find its reward at the violent climax of the novel. The Return of the Native was first published in Belgravia magazine in twelve parts in 1878 and revised by Hardy in 1895 and in 1912, when he produced the definitive Wessex Edition of all of his novels. Described on publication by Harper’s magazine as ‘delightful reading,’ it has retained its power to move and absorb the reader and stands with The Mayor of Casterbridge and Jude the Obscure among the finest of Hardy’s works.
Thomas Hardy was born on June 2, 1840. In his writing, he immortalized the site of his birth—Egdon Heath, in Dorset, near Dorchester, England. Delicate as a child, he was taught at home by his mother before he attended grammar school…. More about Thomas Hardy
"This is the quality Hardy shares with the great writers…this setting behind the small action the terrific action of unfathomed nature."–D. H. Lawrence
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