Works of Thomas Hardy discussion

The Return of the Native
This topic is about The Return of the Native
41 views
The Return of the Native > The Return of the Native: General Discussion

Comments Showing 1-35 of 35 (35 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Amy (last edited Jun 01, 2016 12:03PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Amy | 120 comments Mod


Finally, we get to read another classic Hardy work as a group. One of our group members (lobstergirl) reviewed this book by saying "If you stripped out the characters, the plot, and the dialogue, leaving only the descriptions of Egdon Heath, this would still be worth reading." I'm sold.

GoodReads Blurb
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."


Where to Find
Amazon Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/Return-Native-...
Audiobook: https://librivox.org/search?q=the%20r...

Movie
Television movie with Catherine Zeta-Jones and Clive Owen: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0110977/?...

Return of the Native Fan Merchandise (strangely enough)
scarf, mini skirt, phone case, ipad/laptop skin, wall art, throw pillow, mug, tote/drawstring bag, studio pouch, stickers, cards, notebook, journal: http://www.redbubble.com/people/paint...


Lobstergirl | 12 comments Wow that mini skirt is weird.


Brian Reynolds | 92 comments Just started the novel and it begins, in very typical Hardy fashion, with periphery rural characters talking about the introductory events rather than the events themselves.
Can't stop visualizing that miniskirt.


message 5: by Brian (last edited Jun 03, 2016 07:33AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Brian Reynolds | 92 comments Hardy stayed with his first sentence. Good choice.
Funny skit, even if they got the order of Hardy's books wrong. Luckily, I don't rely on Monty Python for factual info on classic books.


message 6: by Alison (new)

Alison Giles | 29 comments There are not many other literary works that I know of where the author has written an entire chapter describing one character (Diggory Venn) as Hardy does in his first chapter of TROTN. That really is incomparable. It really is a remarkable first chapter and one that has remained with me for life.


message 7: by Alison (new)

Alison Giles | 29 comments Brian, I would have thought that the meeting between Diggory Venn and Thomasin was quite an event. Yet, no one can set the scene so well as Hardy and it's one of the aspects of Hardy's writing that I enjoy reading. His descriptions of scenes and folkways really bring it alive for me.


message 8: by Amy (last edited Jun 08, 2016 09:21AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Amy | 120 comments Mod
Not having been around sheep farming, perhaps I'm the only one who didn't understand the purpose of the reddleman's peddling of red chalk to sheep farmers? It took a bit of searching, but I finally stumbled upon an explanation if you're interested.
[A] "sire sine" harnesses [is fitted] to the rams. They are leather harnesses that are tightly buckled on around the chest and shoulders in such a way as carry a coloured chalk pad fitted securely against the brisket, between the forelegs. ...The idea is that the chalk on the ram's brisket will colour the wool on the rump of the ewe when he serves her. If none of the ewes in a batch have been coloured by the ram at the end of a week-or-so, he can be replaced by another, known "worker".

Most farmers change their rams round different groups of ewes at the end of the first oestrous cycle ... . At that stage, the colour of the chalk can be changed on the rams. So, if the colour of chalk for the first service was say blue, and that for the second service or oestrous cycle is red, then any ewes returning will be coloured red and blue. If that happens consistently in a group you can be fairly sure that the previous ram is infertile.

This simple practice has other uses. For instance, it allows you to know fairly accurately when ewes are due to lamb. ...That allows the farmer to bring the first batch of ewes into the lambing shed, or sheltered field and lamb them before he turns his attention to the second batch. Those that were never marked with any colour can be assumed to be barren and sold.

Knowing when different batches of ewes are due to lamb also allows the farmer to feed different batches more accurately depending on their stage of pregnancy. Not only does that save on the cost of feeding, but it also allows farmers to have their sheep in ideal condition for lambing - neither too fat or too thin.


Source: http://www.heraldscotland.com/busines...

And if you find this interesting, you'll really find the Reddit thread about it to be interesting: https://www.reddit.com/r/todayilearne...

This is also known as tupping. If you're really curious, here are some naughty chalky sheep pictures: https://www.google.com/search?tbm=isc... (Please note that that image search does have some not-safe-for-work images)


Brian Reynolds | 92 comments Alison, you are so right about Hardy's descriptions. Chapter 1 is a 5 page description of "the vast tract of unenclosed wild known as Egdon Heath" bringing the heath alive as a character. The periphery rural characters talking about the events don't come along until Chapter 3, after the descriptions of Diggory and Captain Vye in Chapter 2.
I agree that the Diggory/Thomasin meeting was quite an event. Since it occurs before the novel events, we only hear Diggory describing it to Mrs. Yeobright in Chapter 4.


Brian Reynolds | 92 comments Amy, they must have used only red at Hardy's time since, while there were groups of reddlemen, there was no blue man group then. I may start using the term "tupping."


message 11: by Amy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Amy | 120 comments Mod
Ha. No blue man group.

How do you plan to get tupping into a conversation? Perhaps, "Oh, tup that!"?


Brian Reynolds | 92 comments Precisely. I really need to quit using that "other word"which I started using way too frequently once my boys started using it as teenagers, so why not your suggestion and "Tupping A!" instead.


Lobstergirl | 12 comments No, I didn't know about the whole business of reddling either. I had no idea it served so many purposes. I just kind of assumed it was like the branding of cattle...


message 14: by Brian (last edited Apr 09, 2019 03:33PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Brian Reynolds | 92 comments When I first read Return of the Native in 1978 it was my first Hardy, and I followed up with Mayor, Tess and Jude and FFTMC by the time the movie Tess came out in 1980. At that time, I thought ROTN paled in comparison with the epic tragedies of Tess, Mayor and Jude. Jude is one of my 5 favorite novels.
I thought much more highly of it on this reread and now see why some label it Hardy's most representative novel. Maybe my age enables me to more appreciate the vivid descriptions and marital relationships. I upped my rating from 3 to 4 stars. I still think its not the best Hardy to assign high schoolers.
EDIT: After some reflection, I upped my rating to 5 stars.


message 15: by Alison (new)

Alison Giles | 29 comments Isn't it interesting how a person determines a favourite novel, either what we seek from it or what we familiarise with in a text. I read ROTN for my high school studies and, while not taking it too seriously, enjoyed it. Eustachia Vye and the Reddleman were two characters that plagued my thoughts throughout my adult years. Even though I went on to read all of Hardy's novels (enjoying The Woodlanders and Two on a Tower, in particular) it was ROTN that I reread the most. When I reflected on what it was that interested me I came to realise that it was the heath, the wildness of the heath and the wildness of Eustachia. How I so wanted to be her, and how so similar I was to her. It still remains my favourite novel, ever. Yes, Jude is a much more 'powerful' book, Tess is a much more social critique of the day. It wasn't until I went walking among the heath, and saw the barrows and furze bushes last year when I went to Dorset that I felt right at home and saw how Hardy could photograph that landscape with words.


Brian Reynolds | 92 comments Alison, great summary of the relative strengths of Jude, Tess and ROTN. I may have liked Jude at age 25 much more than ROTN because, besides being more powerful, I could identify more with Jude himself than any ROTN character. However, I did appreciate Eustacia's character much more now at age 63 than as a lad of 25.
I probably gave ROTN 4 stars rather than 5 because its tragic impact was lessened by the overly long epilogue contained in the Book Sixth add on. I may reevaluate someday because I did have a wonderful time during this reread.
A stroll through the Dorset heath. Hey Jealousy.


message 17: by Amy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Amy | 120 comments Mod
Hardy doesn't generally write novels in the gothic genre, but this one seems to be tinged with gothic elements ... at least in the beginning (I'm only 11% in). Weve got the men discussing their fear of ghosts by bonfires and the macabre sign of the Quiet Woman. Plus, the heath setting feels eerie. For those of you who have read more, does the gothic feel of the novel continue? So far, the only other Hardy novel that I've read with a gothic feel has been Desperate Remedies.


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

Amy | 120 comments Mod
A search for "Thomas Hardy gothic" actually uncovers quite a number of literary papers discussing the gothic elements in many of Hardy's works. Funny that you don't usually hear Hardy's name in a discussion of Victorian Gothic lit.


Brian Reynolds | 92 comments Amy, according to one of those papers, The Return of the Native, next to Tess, is the most Gothic of Hardy's novel. The writer labels Hardy a Victorian Gothic novelist. Interesting reads.


message 20: by Amy (last edited Jun 15, 2016 09:03PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Amy | 120 comments Mod
I always love a good gothic tale.

Funny. About 5 pages after writing the above, I encountered Hardy describing something as "Gothic". You know you're trying hard when you announce your genre and people still don't regularly label you as Gothic.


Brian Reynolds | 92 comments I especially enjoyed the Rhode Island writer's depiction of how Egdon Heath operated as substitute for the castle found in most Gothic novels.


message 22: by Amy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Amy | 120 comments Mod
Brian wrote: "I especially enjoyed the Rhode Island writer's depiction of how Egdon Heath operated as substitute for the castle found in most Gothic novels."

That's an interesting observation. The heath comes alive as the castles come alive in their eerie presences.


message 23: by Alison (new)

Alison Giles | 29 comments Yes, just commenting that I do agree with the Rhode Island writer. I too agree that the heath itself is the 'gothic' setting. And just possibly the tower in 'Two on a Tower' takes on that depiction also. How interesting, I never thought of Hardy's writing in this way.


message 24: by Amy (last edited Jun 16, 2016 05:22AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Amy | 120 comments Mod
I didn't really see the tower in Two on a Tower to have any sort of gloom or eerie feeling to it, but maybe I wasn't looking. I do so love that book though.

The scene that struck me as especially gothic in Desperate Remedies was the creepy guy trying to woo the girl by playing organ music for her. I believe it was during a thunderstorm, but my mind might have added that for effect.


message 25: by Alison (new)

Alison Giles | 29 comments Yes, Amy, the ending is fantastic and pretty gothic now that I think further about it.

Amy wrote: "Hardy doesn't generally write novels in the gothic genre, but this one seems to be tinged with gothic elements ... at least in the beginning (I'm only 11% in). Weve got the men discussing their fea..."


message 26: by Alison (new)

Alison Giles | 29 comments I think I got a bit obsessed with the tower in 'two on a tower', and saw it as a rather phallic symbol but also a rather gothic place to be conducting a love affair.Amy wrote: "I didn't really see the tower in Two on a Tower to have any sort of gloom or eerie feeling to it, but maybe I wasn't looking. I do so love that book though.

The scene that struck me as especially ..."


While we're on the gothic subject, would others think that ending of Tess, is gothic? All those druid stones and such?


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

Amy | 120 comments Mod
Alison wrote: "While we're on the gothic subject, would others think that ending of Tess, is gothic? All those druid stones and such? ..."

Ooo... you're right. I'd not thought of that.

I really want to read more of the papers about Hardy's gothic leanings, but I keep having to skip over spoilers for the books of his I've not read yet.


message 28: by Amy (last edited Jul 03, 2016 11:35AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Amy | 120 comments Mod
I've had far too many reading responsibilities this month and am probably behind others in reading. I've just gotten to the Christmas party where there's an instrument I'd never heard of before, a serpent. I thought I'd look it up, and it's a very interesting instrument with a beautiful sound somewhere between muted trumpet and french horn. It's a cousin to the tuba. I wonder why it fell out of fashion and the tuba stayed in fashion. Oh well.



Video of song played on serpent: https://youtu.be/qCIc9YGwczs

Nancy's Fancy (without the serpent): https://youtu.be/IFq4NRScf7o


message 29: by Amy (last edited Jul 04, 2016 10:39AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Amy | 120 comments Mod
At 43%...

On his return to the heath, Clym says of his time abroad, "I found that I was trying to be like people who had hardly anything in common with myself. I was endeavoring to put off one sort of life for another sort of life, which was not better than the life I had known before. It was simply different."

Being a person who has lived away from my native part of the country and culture for over 20 years, this is not what I was expecting. When I go back for a visit, I feel less and less at home. Like Clym, I left in the first place because I did not identify with the culture of the place where I grew up. But the things he found contemptible were how they shined their shoes and cleaned their clothes. I suppose he felt that they lacked a sort of modernity. Perhaps that was part of my feeling since my hometown was without internet or coffee shops and other sorts of modern amenities, but it went deeper to me not identifying with the sentiments, ethics, politics, religion, judgmentalism, and past times of the people there. When I go back to visit and people ask when I'm moving back, it's still all I can do to not yell that I'd do anything to never ever have to move back there. I was depressed throughout childhood, and the longer I visit back home, the more depressed I become. The life I've made for myself away from "home" these 20+ years is both different and much better. And I'm happy.

I like that Clym sees the beauty in his hometown and feels that their kind of different isn't a bad kind of different. I just wish I could identify with him.

Discussion Question
Are any of the others of you a person who has moved far from home? If so, do you identify with Clym or not?


message 30: by Amy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Amy | 120 comments Mod
At 56% ...

Sadly, Mrs. Yeobright refuses (view spoiler) I'm trying to determine why she's so opposed to (view spoiler) Her sentiments just seem so very extreme to me, especially when she was so understanding of Thomasin's plight.


message 31: by Amy (last edited Jul 07, 2016 11:31AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Amy | 120 comments Mod
At 60%...

Glow worms? I guess I didn't realize that glow worms are a real thing separate from fireflies. In North America, our only glow worms are Orfelia fultoni which glow blue and are only found in the Appalachian Mountains and Cumberland Plateau (in Alabama, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia).

In Europe, they're elusive as well. The species that Hardy is writing about would be Lampyris noctiluca. This species appears to be in decline. There's an interesting website about glow worms in the UK which includes survey information, maps, and even a list of glow worm walks for the year: http://www.glowworms.org.uk/.




message 32: by Amy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Amy | 120 comments Mod
At 64%...

I started out liking Eustacia, but now I'm finding here despicable. I'm not really sure any of the women in this story are sane. (view spoiler)

You know, I think one of the things that keeps me going back to Hardy is that he makes his readers mad at his characters for doing stupid things. However, he tends to keep one or two likeable characters on the side to keep a bit of hope in the story. I like Venn and I can't fault Clym, but the women in this story are really just insane.


message 33: by Amy (last edited Jul 14, 2016 07:06AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Amy | 120 comments Mod
So, I'm finished and I can't stop turning this story over and over in my mind trying to decide who is the biggest villain and the most guilty. They're all a little guilty and a little innocent. If you took any one person out of the story, bad things would probably still happen. Even though Thomasin appears innocent on the surface, she's not because she acts according to what she thinks everyone wants her to do rather than what she wants to do. She probably wouldn't have married (view spoiler)

I have a theory that Mrs. Yeoman was (view spoiler) before she arrived at her original destination. If so, (view spoiler)

I also think that (view spoiler) is the biggest villain of all in the story because (view spoiler)

I loved, hated, and sympathized with every character. And I think they're all just a little insane. I'd love to go back, reread, and make a chart of how everything plays out, and who and what effects everything else. This is most definitely a gothic novel and very well done. Also, I just found out that Alan Rickman narrated the audio version of this book. Wouldn't that be perfect listening? I'm tempted to buy it and listen to the story again with his narration.


message 34: by Alison (new)

Alison Giles | 29 comments Ooooh Amy, Alan Rickman, I think I'll do the same. Might try and source it hear in Oz.

Yes, hardy was writing 'in his time', so women have interesting characteristics and behave in odd ways compared to us 'modern' women. There have been quite a few Phd theses written about Hardy's women. Always interesting reading. You should find some online.


message 35: by Amy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Amy | 120 comments Mod
Alison wrote: "Yes, hardy was writing 'in his time', so women have interesting characteristics and behave in odd ways compared to us 'modern' women....

I think it depends on the culture of the area. I'm fairly sure some of the women in my rural hometown aren't very far from these women. The smaller the location, the more people are in everyone's business, and the more likely people are to act accordingly.


back to top