Far From the Madding Crowd (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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Far From the Maddening Crowd, by Thomas Hardy, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble ...
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Far From the Madding Crowd (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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Overview

Far From the Maddening Crowd, by Thomas Hardy, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:
  • New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars
  • Biographies of the authors
  • Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events
  • Footnotes and endnotes
  • Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work
  • Comments by other famous authors
  • Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations
  • Bibliographies for further reading
  • Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate
All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.

The first of Thomas Hardy’s great novels, Far From the Madding Crowd established the author as one of Britain’s foremost writers. It also introduced readers to Wessex, an imaginary county in southwestern England that served as the pastoral setting for many of the author’s later works.

Far From the Madding Crowd tells the story of beautiful Bathsheba Everdene, a fiercely independent woman who inherits a farm and decides to run it herself. She rejects a marriage proposal from Gabriel Oak, a loyal man who takes a job on her farm after losing his own in an unfortunate accident. He is forced to watch as Bathsheba mischievously flirts with her neighbor, Mr. Boldwood, unleashing a passionate obsession deep within the reserved man. But both suitors are soon eclipsed by the arrival of the dashing soldier, Frank Troy, who falls in love with Bathsheba even though he’s still smitten with another woman. His reckless presence at the farm drives Boldwood mad with jealousy, and sets off a dramatic chain of events that leads to both murder and marriage.

A delicately woven tale of unrequited love and regret, Far from the Madding Crowd is also an unforgettable portrait of a rural culture that, by Hardy’s lifetime, had become threatened with extinction at the hands of ruthless industrialization.

Jonathan A. Cook has a B.A. from Harvard College and a Ph.D. from Columbia University. He is the author of Satirical Apocalypse: An Anatomy of Melville’s The Confidence Man, and has published numerous articles on the works of Herman Melville, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and other nineteenth-century writers.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781593082239
  • Publisher: Barnes & Noble
  • Publication date: 6/1/2005
  • Series: Barnes & Noble Classics Series
  • Pages: 480
  • Sales rank: 109,649
  • Product dimensions: 5.19 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Thomas Hardy
Jonathan A. Cook has a B.A. from Harvard College and a Ph.D. from Columbia University. He is the author of Satirical Apocalypse: An Anatomy of Melville’s The Confidence Man, and has published numerous articles on the works of Herman Melville, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and other nineteenth-century writers.

Biography

Thomas Hardy was born on June 2, 1840, in the village of Higher Bockhampton, near Dorchester, a market town in the county of Dorset. Hardy would spend much of his life in his native region, transforming its rural landscapes into his fictional Wesses. Hardy's mother, Jemima, inspired him with a taste for literature, while his stonemason father, Thomas, shared with him a love of architecture and music (the two would later play the fiddle at local dances). As a boy Hardy read widely in the popular fiction of the day, including the novels of Scott, Dumas, Dickens, W. Harrison Ainsworth, and G.P.R. James, and in the poetry of Scott, Wordsworth, Byron, Shelley, Keats, and others. Strongly influenced in his youth by the Bible and the liturgy of the Anglican Church, Hardy later contemplated a career in the ministry; but his assimilation of the new theories of Darwinian evolutionism eventually made him an agnostic and a severe critic of the limitations of traditional religion.

Although Hardy was a gifted student at the local schools he attended as a boy for eight years, his lower-class social origins limited his further educational opportunities. At sixteen, he was apprenticed to architect James Hicks in Dorchester and began an architectural career primarily focused on the restoration of churches. In Dorchester Hardy was also befriended by Horace Moule, eight years Hardy's senior, who acted as an intellectual mentor and literary adviser throughout his youth and early adulthood. From 1862 to 1867 hardy worked in London for the distinguished architect Arthur Blomfeld, but he continued to study -- literature, art, philosophy, science, history, the classics -- and to write, first poetry and then fiction.

In the early 1870s Hardy's first two published novels, Desperate Remedies and Under the Greenwood Tree, appeared to little acclaim or sales. With his third novel, A Pair of Blue Eyes, he began the practice of serializing his fiction in magazines prior to book publication, a method that he would utilize throughout his career as a novelist. In 1874, the year of his marriage to Emma Gifford of St. Juliot, Cornwall, Hardy enjoyed his first significant commercial and critical success with the book publication of Far from the Madding Crowd after its serialization in the Cornhill Magazine. Hardy and his wife lived in several locations in London, Dorset, and Somerset before settling in South London for three years in 1878. During the late 1870s and early 1880s, Hardy published The Return of the Native, The Trumpet-Major, A Laodicean, and Two on a Tower while consolidating his pace as a leading contemporary English novelist. He would also eventually produce four volumes of short stories: Wessex Tales, A Group of Noble Dames, Life's Little Ironies, and A Changed Man.

In 1883, Hardy and his wife moved back to Dorchester, where Hardy wrote The Mayor of Casterbridge, set in a fictionalized version of Dorchester, and went on to design and construct a permanent home for himself, named Max Gate, completed in 1885. In the later 1880s and early 1890s Hardy wrote three of his greatest novels, The Woodlanders, Tess of the d'Urbevilles, and Jude the Obscure, all of them notable for their remarkable tragic power. The latter two were initially published as magazine serials in which Hardy removed potentially objectionable moral and religious content, only to restore it when the novels were published in book form; both novels nevertheless aroused public controversy for their criticisms of Victorian sexual and religious mores. In particular, the appearance of Jude the Obscure in 1895 precipitated harsh attacks on Hardy's alleged pessimism and immorality; the attacks contributed to his decision to abandon the writing of fiction after the appearance of his last-published novel, The Well-Beloved.

In the later 1890s Hardy returned to the writing of poetry that he had abandoned for fiction thirty years earlier. Wessex Poems appeared in 1898, followed by several volumes of poetry at regular intervals over the next three decades. Between 1904 and 1908 Hardy published a three-part epic verse drama, The Dynasts, based on the Napoleonic Wars of the early nineteenth century. Following the death of his first wife in 1912, Hardy married his literary secretary Florence Dugdale in 1914. Hardy received a variety of public honors in the last two decades of his life and continued to publish poems until his death at Max Gate on January 11, 1928. His ashes were interred in the Poets' Corner of Westminster Abbey in London and his heart in Stinsford outside Dorchester. Regarded as one of England's greatest authors of both fiction and poetry, Hardy has inspired such notable twentieth-century writers as Marcel Proust, John Cowper Powys, D. H. Lawrence, Theodore Dreiser, and John Fowles.

Author biography from the Barnes & Noble Classics edition of Far from the Madding Crowd.

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    1. Date of Birth:
      June 2, 1840
    2. Place of Birth:
      Higher Brockhampon, Dorset, England
    1. Date of Death:
      January 11, 1928
    2. Place of Death:
      Max Gate, Dorchester, England
    1. Education:
      Served as apprentice to architect James Hicks

Read an Excerpt

From Jonathan A. Cook’s Introduction to Far From the Madding Crowd

Hardy described his new novel to Leslie Stephen as “a pastoral tale,” and the very title of the novel announced its rural pedigree. The author derived his title from the nineteenth stanza of Thomas Gray’s well-known “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard” (1751), a pastoral meditation on the undistinguished but not undignified lives of rural dwellers:

Far from the madding [that is, frenzied] crowd’s ignoble strife,

Their sober wishes never learn’d to stray;

Along the cool sequester’d vale of life

They kept the noiseless tenor of their way.

Hardy’s novel hardly presents characters whose “sober wishes never learned to stray”; indeed, misdirected and thwarted desires are the very stuff of the novel’s drama. But he nevertheless gives his rural characters the kind of dignity and humanity that Gray commemorates in his pastoral elegy and that Hardy was bestowing on a new fictional domain based on his native Dorset. The borrowed lines from Gray’s poem may be said to act as a generic marker for Far from the Madding Crowd in that many of the basic elements of plot, characterization, setting, and imagery in Hardy’s novel can be directly linked to the traditions of the literary pastoral. In Far from the Madding Crowd, as in the pastoral tradition generally, humanity lives largely in harmony with nature, and the year is marked by the natural rhythms of the seasons and the labors of agricultural life. In order fully to appreciate the novel as a manifestation of pastoral, it is necessary briefly to review the long literary tradition to which it belonged.

The pastoral tradition in European literature began with the Idylls of the third-century B.C. Greek writer Theocritus, whose poems often focused on the simple lives and loves of shepherds and goatherds, nostalgically recalled from the writer’s native Sicily. The rural subjects of Theocritus’ verse included musical and poetic contests, mythological narratives, seasonal celebrations, and elegiac laments. The tradition of classical pastoral poetry was further elaborated by the first-century B.C. Roman writer Virgil in his ten Eclogues, based on Theocritan models, as well as the Georgics, a four-part didactic poem on the required labors of the agricultural year regarding crops, trees, vines, livestock, and bees. Following Virgil, an implicit assumption of pastoral poetry was that rural life was morally superior to urban civilization. Pastoral literature was revived in the English Renaissance in the work of three of the era’s leading writers: Edmund Spenser’s Shepheardes Calendar (1579), a medley of twelve poems based on Virgil’s Eclogues and featuring song contests, elegies, laments of scorned lovers and frustrated poets, and criticisms of corruption in the late-sixteenth-century English church and state; Sir Philip Sidney’s Arcadia (1590), a long prose narrative, set in an imaginary Greek provincial realm, combining chivalric romance with traditional pastoral interludes, and structured around the principle of rustic retreat from the outside world; and William Shakespeare’s As You Like It (c.1600), a romantic comedy representing the sentimental benefits— and ironic deficiencies— of withdrawal to a sylvan retreat, the imaginary Forest of Arden, from the perilous environs of the court. Pastoral poetry continued to be written through the eighteenth century by Alexander Pope and others, but at the risk of becoming artificially restricted to the classically defined rules of the era. Although anticipated in some of the poetry of Gray, Oliver Goldsmith, and George Crabbe, it was only with William Wordsworth’s re-creation of the pastoral using realistic rural characters and simplified diction that the tradition was renewed and made available to Hardy’s influential precursor George Eliot in her novels Adam Bede (1859) and Silas Marner (1861), and then to Hardy himself, beginning with his second novel, Under the Greenwood Tree (1872), the title of which was based on a line from a song in As You Like It.

In essence, literary pastoral presents an idealized portrait of rural life, in the process offering a systematic preference for country over city life, simplicity over complexity, nature over artifice, and tradition over innovation. Explicitly named after the shepherds who formed its first subject matter, pastoral poetry often traced the romantic aspirations and disappointments of simple herders of sheep and goats, whose outdoor work allowed time for music, especially on the panpipes or flute, song contests, and debate on various sentimental, agricultural, political, and folkloric topics. The English pastoral novel of the nineteenth century blended some of the idealized themes and motifs of classical and Renaissance pastoral tradition with the more realistic contemporary conditions of the English rural community and natural landscape.

In writing Far from the Madding Crowd, Hardy combined many of the basic themes and motifs of classical pastoral tradition, but synthesized them with a realistic portrayal of contemporary rural English life. The novel’s grounding in pastoral tradition appears in the various farm laborers who perform a choral role in the narrative and exemplify the symbiotic existence of nature and humanity in the novel. It is also evident in the novel’s major characters: the faithful shepherd Gabriel Oak; his “mistress,” the beautiful but capricious farm owner Bathsheba Everdene; her love-sick older admirer, the gentleman farmer William Boldwood; and her selfish, predatory husband, Sergeant Troy, a disruptive antipastoral figure in the novel. In keeping with the seasonal structure underlying some examples of the literary pastoral, the action of the novel mirrors the seasons, as seen, for example, in Oak’s loss of his sheep in the winter, Boldwood’s preliminary courtship in the spring, Bathsheba’s involvement with Troy in the summer, and Fanny Robin’s death in the fall. Also indicative of the pastoral tradition in the novel are the descriptions of the phases of the agricultural year, including lambing, sheepshearing, hay-cutting, beekeeping, and harvesting, as well as of the rural institutions of market and fair.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 121 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 122 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 13, 2005

    Excellent early work from Hardy!

    Far From the Madding crowd is an excellent novel by Thomas Hardy, and is yet quite different from much of the author's later works. Hardy seems to possess less of a sadistic god-complex, and there are fewer ironic coincidences in Madding Crowd than later books. The action is propelled forth more by the characters than by Hardy himself, but despite these differences, it is very much a Hardy work - full of bleak humor, deft wit, and engrossing characterizations. It's also one of the few Hardy works that could be said to have a 'happy ending' though, to be sure, there is still a great deal of misery and difficulty that besets the protagonists. A great work that truly helps to broaden one's perceptions of Hardy, and excellent book in its own right.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 4, 2008

    Brilliant

    Of all the books in my library, this one gets read over and over. The book is stimulating and intriguing from the opening page to the end and the characters are unforgettable. And the story has an underlying message that is true even today.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 1, 2013

    The Evolution of a Heroine

    Bathsheba does not start out as a heroine in this lovely rendering of
    Hardy's fictional world of Dorset. She becomes one through the book and the three men she is involved with. As is often the case in a Hardy novel the landscape is part of the story and the shaping of the people. I read this book years ago in highschool. Life has taught me too which qualities to value. Her beauty misleads herself and the
    people around her, but she finds her true worth later on. Hardy is nothing if not a steady student of life.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2011

    Bad Scan

    Bad Scan

    Like so many of the free books available for the Nook, this book is very poorly scanned. Pagination and printing is off. I love Thomas Hardy ¿ but this is not the way to read him.

    It is not worth the trouble, and I am deleting it.

    I guess you really do get what you pay for¿

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 22, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Great Read

    I read this my sophomore year, and it is a great story. Love is explored as the main theme.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 15, 2005

    This one's a keeper!!!

    This book was truly an enjoyable read! the characters had such distint personality, and Hardy's writing always has a dry wit to it that makes each chapter entertaining and thoughtful!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 9, 2005

    A smooth Story

    It is a flawless novel by Hardy and is to be counted among his best ones. It clearly expresses how people behave according to their environment. The story of full of different men falling in love with Bathseba, the main character. It also consists of the real devotion of a lover to his loved one. Its a smooth, flawless story.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2014

    What a Wonderful Book!

    This is the story of a Bohemian farm girl in Nebraska who runs the family farm with her father from the time she is 12, and on her own after he dies. Her ideas make the family rich, but she isn't appreciated by her two dull-witted brothers.

    It's also two love stories, one between Alexandra and her childhood friend and another that involves her best friend Maria and...well...I don't want to give too much away. This is some of the finest writing I have ever experienced.

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  • Posted February 4, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    A typical classic

    This Hardy Novel is a typical classic. It has a place in the history of the novel but has little to offer otherwise. The story portrays the very realistic struggle of a young woman with her romantic relationships and does so admirably. But the story is rather predicable and the writing style is good but not particularly notable. I believe this novel would particularly resonant with young women.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 18, 2011

    Sweet book.

    I really liked it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 8, 2010

    :)

    Loving the Classics

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2003

    Definately grows on you

    For Academic Decathlon this year, our book of study was Far From the Madding Crowd. Though I didn't particularly enjoy it my first time reading it through, I have to come to really appreciate it for what it is. Hardy's characters come alive, and you feel as though you are sometimes at one with the characters in the story. An excellent read for anyone with some patience.

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    Posted December 26, 2009

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