The story of a simple country girl whose family's pretentions lead to her destruction
Tess dei d'Urberville
Author: Thomas Hardy
Publisher: Edizioni Mondadori
«Ti ubbidirò come la tua schiava infelice, anche se tu mi dicessi di distendermi qui e di morire.» Le faceva piacere pensare che lui la considerasse una sua proprietà assoluta di cui poter disporre a piacimento. «Accetto queste condizioni, Angel; tu lo sai meglio di me quale deve essere la mia punizione.» «Ricordati, signora mia, che una volta ero il tuo padrone! E lo sarò ancora.» Nelle campagne dell'Inghilterra vittoriana cresce Tess, creatura incantevole e pura. Ma né la sua bellezza, né l'innocenza la salveranno da un destino di brucianti passioni. Per Alec d'Urberville, bello, ricco, potente e nobile: il seduttore al quale la giovane sembra legata da un vincolo più forte di ogni disperazione, più forte di ogni sentimento. E per Angel Clare, l'amore di gioventù appena intravisto, a lungo sognato, posseduto, perduto, ritrovato. Degradazione e alti ideali ha messo il destino sulla strada di Tess. Ma non sempre è così facile distinguerli...
Tess of the d'Urbervilles or just Tess, is a novel by Thomas Hardy. Though now considered an important work of English literature, the book received mixed reviews when it first appeared, in part because it challenged the sexual mores of Hardy's day. Hardy's writing often illustrates the "ache of modernism", and this theme is notable in Tess, which, as one critic noted, portrays "the energy of traditional ways and the strength of the forces that are destroying them". Hardy describes modern farm machinery with infernal imagery; also, at the dairy, he notes that the milk sent to the city must be watered down because the townspeople cannot stomach whole milk. Angel's middle-class fastidiousness makes him reject Tess, a woman whom Hardy often portrays as a sort of Wessex Eve, in harmony with the natural world. When he parts from her and goes to Brazil, the handsome young man gets so ill that he is reduced to a "mere yellow skeleton". All these instances are typically interpreted as indications of the negative consequences of man's separation from nature, both in the creation of destructive machinery and in the inability to rejoice in pure nature. Another important theme of the novel is the sexual double standard to which Tess falls victim; despite being, in Hardy's view, a truly good woman, she is despised by society after losing her virginity before marriage. Hardy plays the role of Tess's only true friend and advocate, pointedly subtitling the book "a pure woman faithfully presented" and prefacing it with Shakespeare's words from The Two Gentlemen of Verona: "Poor wounded name! My bosom as a bed/ Shall lodge thee." However, although Hardy clearly means to criticise Victorian notions of female purity, the double standard also makes the heroine's tragedy possible, and thus serves as a mechanism of Tess's broader fate. Hardy variously hints that Tess must suffer either to atone for the misdeeds of her ancestors, or to provide temporary amusement for the gods, or because she possesses some small but lethal character flaw inherited from the ancient clan.
A level 6 Oxford Bookworms Library graded reader. This version includes an audio book: listen to the story as you read. Retold for Learners of English by Clare West. A pretty young girl has to leave home to make money for her family. She is clever and a good worker; but she is uneducated and does not know the cruel ways of the world. So, when a rich young man says he loves her, she is careful - but not careful enough. He is persuasive, and she is overwhelmed. It is not her fault, but the world says it is. Her young life is already stained by men's desires, and by death.
Author: Theodor Fontane
Publisher: OUP Oxford
'I loathe what I did, but what I loathe even more is your virtue.' Seventeen-year-old Effi Briest is steered by her parents into marriage with an ambitious bureaucrat, twenty years her senior. He takes her from her home to a remote provincial town on the Baltic coast of Prussia where she is isolated, bored, and prey to superstitious fears. She drifts into a half-hearted affair with a manipulative, womanizing officer, which ends when her husband is transferred to Berlin. Years later, events are triggered that will have profound consequences for Effi and her family. Effi Briest (1895) is recognized as one of the masterpieces by Theodor Fontane, Germany's premier realist novelist, and one of the great novels of marital relations together with Madame Bovary and Anna Karenina. It presents life among the conservative Prussian aristocracy with irony and gentle humour, and opposes the rigid and antiquated morality of the time by treating its heroine with sympathy and keen psychological insight. ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.
Author: Thomas Hardy
'There is something I must say to you, Giles,' Mr Melbury said sadly. 'Soon you will not have a house. You will not have a home for Grace to live in. You must not thing any more about getting married to her.' Giles went back to his house and he thought about Grace and about her father's words. He wanted to know about Grace's own plans. Did she agree with her father? Giles wanted to ask her. He decided to meet her if he could.
CHAPTER I. 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.
A Mere Interlude
Author: Thomas Hardy
Publisher: Penguin UK
As Baptista travels home to marry her parents’ old neighbour, she encounters her lost lover. They elope together, but tragedy strikes unexpectedly on their wedding day and she returns to her parents to do her duty. Will her other, brief love remain a secret? United by the theme of love, the writings in the Great Loves series span over two thousand years and vastly different worlds. Readers will be introduced to love’s endlessly fascinating possibilities and extremities: romantic love, platonic love, erotic love, gay love, virginal love, adulterous love, parental love, filial love, nostalgic love, unrequited love, illicit love, not to mention lost love, twisted and obsessional love....
Author: Elizabeth Gaskell
Publisher: Cosimo, Inc.
"If you want to whip me, uncle, you may do it. I don't much mind." Put in this form, it was impossible to carry out his intentions; and so Mr. Benson told the lad he might go-that he would speak to him another time. Leonard went away, more subdued in spirit than if he had been whipped. Sally lingered for a moment. She stopped to add: "I think it's for them without sin to throw stones at a poor child, and cut up good laburnum branches to whip him. I only do as my betters do, when I call Leonard's mother Mrs. Denbigh." The moment she had said this she was sorry; it was an ungenerous advantage after the enemy had acknowledged himself defeated. Mr. Benson dropped his head upon his hands, and hid his face, and sighed deeply. -Chapter XIX: "After Five Years" As interest in 19th-century English literature by women has been reinvigorated by a resurgence in popularity of the works of Jane Austen, readers are rediscovering a writer whose fiction, once widely beloved, fell by the wayside. British novelist ELIZABETH CLEGHORN GASKELL (1810-1865)-whose books were sometimes initially credited to, simply, "Mrs. Gaskell"-is now recognized as having created some of the most complex and progressive depictions of women in the literature of the age, and is today justly celebrated for her precocious use of the regional dialect and slang of England's industrial North. Ruth-Gaskell's third novel, first published in three volumes in 1853-is notable as one of the rare instances in the fiction of the era of a positive portrayal of unwed motherhood and for its thematic condemnation of the social stigma of illegitimacy. The tale of a young woman seduced and abandoned by her lover, then taken in and protected by a kindly minister and his sister, it is remarkably progressive for the period. Friend and literary companion to the likes of Charles Dickens and Charlotte Bront-the latter of whom Gaskell wrote an acclaimed 1857 biography-Gaskell is today being restored to her rightful place alongside them. This charming replica volume is an excellent opportunity for 21st-century fans of British literature to embrace one of its most unjustly forgotten authors.
Life's Little Ironies
Author: Thomas Hardy
Publisher: Thomas Hardy
British novelist, short story writer, and poet of the naturalist movement. He captured the epoch just before the railways and the industrial revolution changed the English countryside. His works are pessimistic and bitterly ironic, and his writing is rough but capable of immense power. His first novel, The Poor Man and the Lady, finished by 1867, failed to find a publisher and Hardy destroyed the manuscript. Only parts of the novel remain. He was encouraged to try again by his mentor and friend, Victorian poet and novelist George Meredith. Desperate Remedies  and Under the Greenwood Tree  were published anonymously. In 1873 A Pair of Blue Eyes, a story drawing on Hardy's courtship of his first wife, was published under his own name. In Far from the Madding Crowd , his next (and first important) novel, Hardy introduced Wessex, the "partly-real, partly-dream" county named after the Anglo-Saxon kingdom that existed in the area. The landscape was modelled on the real counties of Berkshire, Devon, Dorset, Hampshire, Somerset and Wiltshire, with fictional places based on real locations. Over the next twenty-five years Hardy produced ten more novels. The Hardys moved from London to Yeovil and then to Sturminster Newton, where he wrote The Return of the Native . In 1885, they moved for a last time, to Max Gate, a house outside Dorchester designed by Hardy and built by his brother. There he wrote The Mayor of Casterbridge , The Woodlanders , and Tess of the d'Urbervilles , the latter which attracted criticism for its sympathetic portrayal of a "fallen woman" and was initially refused publication. Jude the Obscure, published in 1895, was met with even stronger negative outcries by the Victorian public for its frank treatment of sex. Despite this criticism, Hardy had become a celebrity in English literature by the 1900s, with several blockbuster novels under his belt, yet he was disgusted with the public reception of two of his greatest works. He gave up writing novels altogether.
At the heart of this panoramic, multidimensional narrative is the compelling struggle of a young woman to lift her body and soul out of the gutter. Faber leads us back to 1870s London, where Sugar, a nineteen-year-old whore in the brothel of the terrifying Mrs. Castaway, yearns for escape to a better life. Her ascent through the strata of Victorian society offers us intimacy with a host of lovable, maddening, unforgettable characters. They begin with William Rackham, an egotistical perfume magnate whose ambition is fueled by his lust for Sugar, and whose patronage brings her into proximity to his extended family and milieu: his unhinged, childlike wife, Agnes, who manages to overcome her chronic hysteria to make her appearances during “the Season”; his mysteriously hidden-away daughter, Sophie, left to the care of minions; his pious brother, Henry, foiled in his devotional calling by a persistently less-than-chaste love for the Widow Fox, whose efforts on behalf of The Rescue Society lead Henry into ever-more disturbing confrontations with flesh; all this overseen by assorted preening socialites, drunken journalists, untrustworthy servants, vile guttersnipes, and whores of all stripes and persuasions. Twenty years in its conception, research, and writing, The Crimson Petal and the White is teeming with life, rich in texture and incident, with characters breathtakingly real. In a class by itself, it's a big, juicy, must-read of a novel that will delight, enthrall, provoke, and entertain young and old, male and female.