All About Books discussion

Tess of the D'Urbervilles
This topic is about Tess of the D'Urbervilles
119 views
Group Reads - Classic (Fiction) > Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy (Dec. 2015 - Jan. 2016 Group Classic Read)

Comments Showing 1-50 of 86 (86 new)    post a comment »
« previous 1

Leslie | 15985 comments Our group classic book for December & January is another Thomas Hardy -- Tess of the D'Urbervilles.

I haven't read this for over 30 years so I will be rereading it via audiobook.


Pink Yaaaaaay....more Hardy! This will be my third and although I haven't really enjoyed what I've read of him so far, there is something really captivating about his stories. I'm especially looking forward to Tess, as I hear such good things and it seems to be one of his best.


LauraT (laurata) | 13210 comments Mod
I've read it twice not too long ago; I don't think I'm reading it now. I'll follow you though and see what you think


Terry ~ Huntress of Erudition | 553 comments I've read this twice, about 25 years apart and like "Anna Karenina", the first time I read it, I was passionately involved in the book. then ran out and saw the movie, with Natassia Kinski as a young girl, and absolutely loved it. (I may actually watch the movie again)
Then, when I read it again a few years ago, it seemed so morally rigid and Tess herself seemed like a masochistic drama queen.
Same with Anna Karenina, when I read it as a young woman, I totally sympathized with Anna and really hated her husband, then when I read it again 3 years ago (before the vacuous Kiera Knightly movie) I actually sympathized more with her husband and felt he was misunderstood.


Shirley | 4177 comments I read this about 25 years ago, it's the only Hardy I have read, although I keep meaning to remedy this! I may not get time to join in, but I will try...


Leslie | 15985 comments Terry wrote: "I've read this twice, about 25 years apart and like "Anna Karenina", the first time I read it, I was passionately involved in the book. then ran out and saw the movie, with Natassia Kinski as a you..."

It is interesting how as we get older & our perspective changes we view characters & books differently. I remember liking this when I read it but I found that Far From the Madding Crowd was a little bit of a let-down when I reread that a few months ago. I still liked the story but not the writing so I am a bit nervous about revisiting Tess...


Leslie | 15985 comments Is anyone currently reading this? Should I start now or wait until after the holidays?


Marina (sonnenbarke) Leslie, I am waiting until after the holidays because the book is at my parents' and I can't get it earlier than that. I'm looking forward to reading it, I've had on my shelves for a very long time...


dely | 5214 comments I will follow the discussion though I won't re-read it. I've read it two years ago for a recommendation swap and liked it.


message 10: by Pink (new) - rated it 3 stars

Pink I need to start and might make it before Xmas, but more realistically it will be afterwards for me.


LauraT (laurata) | 13210 comments Mod
I don't think I'm goingo to reread it; I've read it twice, great book, but I don't think I'll go for a third. I'll follow your discussion though, whenever you choose to star


Leslie | 15985 comments I guess I will wait until after Xmas then.


Charbel (queez) | 2663 comments I'm really interested in this, so I'll start after Christmas as well.


Marina (sonnenbarke) Yesterday I finally managed to start reading this book. I read around 80 pages and I have a feeling I will like it a lot, although I have to say the dialogs in dialect are somewhat difficult to read for me as an Italian...


Alannah Clarke (alannahclarke) | 11714 comments Mod
Can't believe I've only noticed this thread. I won't be reading it again but happy to join in the discussion.


message 16: by Greg (new) - rated it 5 stars

Greg | 7478 comments Mod
I am just about to start this, as soon as I polish off the final part of the entertaining and light Hercule Poirot's Christmas.


Marina (sonnenbarke) I'm almost finished with this book, just around 60 pages to go. I'm liking it, but I have yet to decide on its rating. It is a bit irritating, though.

What I mean to say is, I love the characterization of the characters, I love the descriptions of rural life, but I cannot sympathize with what is happening. Or rather, I do sympathize with Tess, but I cannot sympathize with how the others treat her. And how she treats herself.

It's clear Hardy feels strongly for Tess, he really likes this character, but she's so unlucky it gives me the itches.

(view spoiler)

However, as I said, Hardy is a great writer and is absolutely great in describing the struggles in the characters, the events, the morality of the time.

I will come back when I finish reading with my final thoughts.


message 18: by Joy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Joy Stephenson (joyfrankie) | 243 comments Marina wrote: "I'm almost finished with this book, just around 60 pages to go. I'm liking it, but I have yet to decide on its rating. It is a bit irritating, though.

What I mean to say is, I love the characteriz..."


I don't think Hardy intends you to 'like this course of things'; I think he continually points out that Tess is treated unfairly. I agree that Tess is unlucky - in fact there are several occasions when Hardy explicitly talks about her as a victim of fate, a plaything in the hands of the gods.
Tess also suffers because of her own nature / character - (view spoiler)

I've read this book many times over the last forty years but don't think I'll reread now - lots of Christmas present books to read.


Terry ~ Huntress of Erudition | 553 comments I know what you mean, Marina. On my 2nd reading of this book, I found Hardy's writing to be very rigid and moralistic, to the point where I wanted to say "Come on Tess! You are doing this to yourself now!"


Marina (sonnenbarke) I've just finished this book and I tend to agree with Joy. It seemed moralistic at first, but after thinking about it I believe, as Joy says, that Hardy doesn't want the readers to like what is happening. And I found this a good book exactly for that reason: because it is so irritating, but I believe it is written in this way just because Hardy wants to point out how wrong it all is. Of course, Tess seems to be very passive, and she's definitely a victim, but this all was probably the better to point out how intrinsically bad the double standards of the time were.

Four stars for me, a very good beginning in my reading year.


Terry ~ Huntress of Erudition | 553 comments Do you think that Hardy disagreed with the double standards of the time? That is the problem I have with his works, I'm not so sure whether he wrote that way because that was what he believed or was trying to point how unfair it was.


Marina (sonnenbarke) Actually it's my first Hardy book, so I can't judge for the whole of his work, but I do believe in this novel he actually wants to point out how unfair it all is. I can feel his affection for Tess in many places, and I think it wouldn't have been so if he'd meant to condemn her actions. He portrays Tess as the archetype of the victim, and he would have hardly done so had he not felt strongly for her and thought the double standards were wrong.


Leslie | 15985 comments Wow Marina, you went quickly through this! I started the audiobook the other day but haven't gotten very far.

I read this years ago when I was in college and I find that I didn't really remember it at all (at least so far).


Marina (sonnenbarke) Leslie wrote: "Wow Marina, you went quickly through this! I started the audiobook the other day but haven't gotten very far."

Hehe, Leslie, I'm a pretty quick reader IF I like the book. If I don't like it it can take me ages. Plus, I enjoyed some vacation these days (I'm self-employed, so I can organize my own working-time, more or less).


message 25: by Portia (last edited Jan 03, 2016 09:30AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Portia I read this book for the first time way back in the second third of the last century and again about five years ago. I'm enjoying reading what others think of this book. I found the characters to be well-drawn and the scenes of the countryside just beautiful. Still, Hardy isn't my go to author when I need cheering up ;-)


message 26: by Greg (new) - rated it 5 stars

Greg | 7478 comments Mod
Portia wrote: "Still, Hardy isn't my go to author when I need cheering up ;-)
..."


Haha, nor for many of us I think! Hardy has lots of great qualities, but cheerfulness is not often one of them. Occasionally maybe, but not often.


message 27: by Joy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Joy Stephenson (joyfrankie) | 243 comments Terry wrote: "Do you think that Hardy disagreed with the double standards of the time? That is the problem I have with his works, I'm not so sure whether he wrote that way because that was what he believed or wa..."

I think undoubtedly Hardy disagreed with the standards of his time. Tess originally had the subtitle 'a pure woman' and he found it difficult to get the book published.


Leslie | 15985 comments Joy wrote: "Terry wrote: "Do you think that Hardy disagreed with the double standards of the time? That is the problem I have with his works, I'm not so sure whether ..."

"I think undoubtedly Hardy disagreed with the standards of his time. ..."


That is my impression as well Joy.


Marina (sonnenbarke) Portia wrote: "Still, Hardy isn't my go to author when I need cheering up ;-) "

Definitely not an author for cheering up. In fact, I had to start reading a book by Christopher Moore after reading this novel, as I definitely needed some cheering up afterwards!


Robin P I also think that Hardy didn't agree with the standards of the time. This is even more striking in Jude the Obscure with a woman who is waaay ahead of her time. (That book is even more depressing too.) When I finished Tess, my main thought was "Thank God I didn't have to live then", especially when she is out grubbing for turnips or whatever they were, in the winter. Sure, she made some bad choices but there was no room for error in her role. And the people who got her into those situations didn't suffer themselves.


message 31: by Portia (last edited Jan 05, 2016 10:37AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Portia Good heavens gravy, Jude the Obscure. Another teen read for me. Looking back, the mistakes Jude and his wife make would be almost funny if they weren't so tragic.

Brings up a good question, though. Was Hardy exaggerating and if so why and how much? did he feel he needed to do the old hammer to the head routine to get the well-off people to pay attention? If he wasn't, well.

I'm not a scholar of either Thomas Hardy or his times. Would someone who is fill in the blanks here, please? Tnx.


Leslie | 15985 comments You can check out what SparkNotes has to say:

http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/tess/co...

In particular, regarding both Tess and Jude the Obscure:

"In Tess of the d’Urbervilles and other novels, Hardy demonstrates his deep sense of moral sympathy for England’s lower classes, particularly for rural women. He became famous for his compassionate, often controversial portrayal of young women victimized by the self-righteous rigidity of English social morality. Perhaps his most famous depiction of such a young woman is in Tess of the d’Urbervilles. This novel and the one that followed it, Jude the Obscure (1895), engendered widespread public scandal with their comparatively frank look at the sexual hypocrisy of English society."


Portia Leslie wrote: "You can check out what SparkNotes has to say:

http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/tess/co...

In particular, regarding both Tess and Jude the Obscure:

"In Tess of the d’Urbervilles and other nov..."


Thanks, Leslie. That's got it in a nutshell.


Terry ~ Huntress of Erudition | 553 comments Thanks Leslie. I'm glad to find that Hardy disapproved of the double standards of the time.


Charbel (queez) | 2663 comments Starting this tonight! I can't wait!


Leslie | 15985 comments I appear to have just gotten to the hypocrisy part -- (view spoiler) Just over halfway through...


message 37: by Joy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Joy Stephenson (joyfrankie) | 243 comments I like the way that Hardy uses the landscape to heighten the mood / emotion. I'm thinking of (view spoiler)


message 38: by Robin P (last edited Jan 06, 2016 07:58PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Robin P After the harsh reception of Jude the Obscure, Hardy gave up writing novels. The grim setting and mood of this kind of book are satirized in Cold Comfort Farm

An author who has similar settings to Hardy and some grim circumstances, but who is more hopeful overall is Mary Webb, for instance Precious Bane. Hardy does have a couple of lighter books, like Under the Greenwood Tree


Charbel (queez) | 2663 comments I'm still in the beginning, but I just reached the part where Prince the horse died. Did anyone else think the scene was quite disturbing? Especially the description of it?


message 40: by Greg (new) - rated it 5 stars

Greg | 7478 comments Mod
I've just hardly begun, but the beginning was unexpectedly delightful .. I love the bittersweet dark humor in the way Jack's attitude changes when (view spoiler). I'm sure things will get darker fast, but I'm happy for this respite in the beginning. The character of Jack is deftly drawn in so few pages.


message 41: by Greg (new) - rated it 5 stars

Greg | 7478 comments Mod
Charbel wrote: "I'm still in the beginning, but I just reached the part where Prince the horse died. Did anyone else think the scene was quite disturbing? Especially the description of it?"

Not yet Charbel, but I'll comment when I get there.


Leslie | 15985 comments Charbel wrote: "I'm still in the beginning, but I just reached the part where Prince the horse died. Did anyone else think the scene was quite disturbing? Especially the description of it?"

Yes, I was surprised by how gruesome it was! I didn't remember this incident but I am finding that my memory of this whole book is very dim and faulty (good thing that I am rereading it!).


message 43: by Joy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Joy Stephenson (joyfrankie) | 243 comments Charbel wrote: "I'm still in the beginning, but I just reached the part where Prince the horse died. Did anyone else think the scene was quite disturbing? Especially the description of it?"

It is perhaps rather a heavy-handed metaphor. Tess literally has the horse's blood on her hands and also feels this emotionally. It is because of her sense of responsibility for the horse's death that she goes along with her mother's plan to send her to the d'Urbervilles. (view spoiler)


Leslie | 15985 comments I am finding that after the hypocrisy of (view spoiler), I have found my interest diminishing. Tess may be acting in character but it is aggravating.

And now (at about 87% done), (view spoiler)


Leslie | 15985 comments I am glad that the members voted to read this as I probably would not have reread this otherwise (or at least not at any time soon). I found that Hardy's prose was better in this than in the other Hardy the group read recently, Far from the Madding Crowd.

But the story!! (view spoiler)


message 46: by Greg (new) - rated it 5 stars

Greg | 7478 comments Mod
Robin wrote: "After the harsh reception of Jude the Obscure, Hardy gave up writing novels. The grim setting and mood of this kind of book are satirized in Cold Comfort Farm ..."

Interesting Robin! And many now consider that one to be his masterpiece. No doubt it's depressing as hell though. :)


message 47: by Greg (new) - rated it 5 stars

Greg | 7478 comments Mod
I've been focusing more effort on Solaris, but as I've just about wrapped hat one up, I'll be putting much more emphasis on this one. I'll certainly go beyond the end of January though because of the length; hopefully some will stick around in this thread a bit past the end of January. :)


message 48: by Pink (new) - rated it 3 stars

Pink I'll still be around to discuss after January as I have every intention to read this, I just need to finish a couple of others before I start.


message 49: by Greg (new) - rated it 5 stars

Greg | 7478 comments Mod
Pink wrote: "I'll still be around to discuss after January as I have every intention to read this, I just need to finish a couple of others before I start."

Great Pink! :)


message 50: by Greg (last edited Jan 19, 2016 07:30PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Greg | 7478 comments Mod
Robin wrote: "Sure, she made some bad choices but there was no room for error in her role. And the people who got her into those situations didn't suffer themselves. ..."

Robin, I really like what you say about "no room for error in her role." I think that's definitely one of the things Hardy is driving at. I'm not that far along (getting toward the end of part 1), but I can already feel Hardy's strong sympathy for Tess.


« previous 1
back to top