Far from the Madding Crowd

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Overview

Hardy's first masterpiece, this 1874 novel received wide acclaim upon publication and remains among the author's best-loved works. The tale of a passionate, independent woman and her three suitors, it explores Hardy's trademark themes: thwarted love, the inevitability of fate, and the encroachment of industrial society on rural life.
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Far From the Madding Crowd (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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Overview

Hardy's first masterpiece, this 1874 novel received wide acclaim upon publication and remains among the author's best-loved works. The tale of a passionate, independent woman and her three suitors, it explores Hardy's trademark themes: thwarted love, the inevitability of fate, and the encroachment of industrial society on rural life.
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Editorial Reviews

Gramophone
A tour de force for Stephen Thorne.
From The Critics
Hardy's rustic tale of Bathsheba Everdean and her three suitors comes to life through Thorne's expert narrative performance. Hardy's works often change pace and character quickly, a point which Thorne uses advantageously to wind us through this insightful novel. Thorne's interpretation of the text removes the distance which so often exists between Victorian literature and the modern reader. Thorne's performance skills transcend age and gender. The listener can envision each of the workers as they talk and sing in the pub, and Thorne's choice of voices for the four main characters gives added depth and presence. Textual interpretation, pacing and vocal characterization all come together to make Thorne's reading an excellent addition to any collection. J.S.G. ©AudioFile, Portland, Maine
From the Publisher
“Far from the Madding Crowd is the first of Thomas Hardy’s great novels, and the first to sound the tragic note for which his fiction is best remembered.”
-Margaret Drabble
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9789626341360
  • Publisher: Naxos Audiobooks
  • Publication date: 9/28/1997
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Abridged, 3 CDs
  • Pages: 4
  • Product dimensions: 4.86 (w) x 5.56 (h) x 0.94 (d)

Meet the Author

Thomas Hardy was born on June 2, 1840. In his writing, he immortalized the site of his birth—Egdon Heath, in Dorset, near Dorchester. Delicate as a child, he was taught at home by his mother before he attended grammar school. At sixteen, Hardy was apprenticed to an architect, and for many years, architecture was his profession; in his spare time, he pursued his first and last literary love, poetry. Finally convinced that he could earn his living as an author, he retired from architecture, married, and devoted himself to writing. An extremely productive novelist, Hardy published an important book every year or two. In 1896, disturbed by the public outcry over the unconventional subjects of his two greatest novels—Tess of the D’Urbervilles and Jude the Obscure—he announced that he was giving up fiction and afterward produced only poetry. In later years, he received many honors. He died on January 11, 1928, and was buried in Poet’s Corner, in Westminster Abbey. It was as a poet that he wished to be remembered, but today critics regard his novels as his most memorable contribution to English literature for their psychological insight, decisive delineation of character, and profound presentation of tragedy.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Description of Farmer Oak-An Incident

When Farmer Oak smiled, the corners of his mouth spread till they were within an unimportant distance of his ears, his eyes were reduced to chinks, and diverging wrinkles appeared round them, extending upon his countenance like the rays in a rudimentary sketch of the rising sun.

His Christian name was Gabriel, and on working days he was a young man of sound judgment, easy motions, proper dress, and general good character. On Sundays he was a man of misty views, rather given to postponing, and hampered by his best clothes and umbrella: upon the whole, one who felt himself to occupy morally that vast middle space of Laodicean neutrality which lay between the Communion people of the parish and the drunken section,--that is, he went to church, but yawned privately by the time the congegation reached the Nicene creed, and thought of what there would be for dinner when he meant to be listening to the sermon. Or, to state his character as it stood in the scale of public opinion, when his friends and critics were in tantrums, he was considered rather a bad man; when they were pleased, he was rather a good man; when they were neither, he was a man whose moral colour was a kind of pepperand-salt mixture.

Since he lived six times as many working-days as Sundays, Oak's appearance in his old clothes was most peculiarly his own--the mental picture formed by his neighbours in imagining him being always dressed in that way. He wore a low-crowned felt hat, spread out at the base by tight jamming upon the head for security in high winds, and a coat like Dr. Johnson's; his lowerextremities being encased in ordinary leather leggings and boots emphatically large, affording to each foot a roomy apartment so constructed that any wearer might stand in a river all day long and know nothing of damp--their maker being a conscientious man who endeavoured to compensate for any weakness in his cut by unstinted dimension and solidity.

Mr. Oak carried about him, by way of watch, what may be called a small silver clock; in other words, it was a watch as to shape and intention, and a small clock as to size. This instrument being several years older than Oak's grandfather, had the peculiarity of going either too fast or not at all. The smaller of its hands, too, occasionally slipped round on the pivot, and thus, though the minutes were told with precision, nobody could be quite certain of the hour they belonged to. The stopping peculiarity of his watch Oak remedied by thumps and shakes, and he escaped any evil consequences from the other two defects by constant comparisons with and observations of the sun and stars, and by pressing his face close to the glass of his neighbours' windows, till he could discern the hour marked by the green-faced timekeepers within. It may be mentioned that Oak's fob being difficult of access, by reason of its somewhat high situation in the waistband of his trousers (which also lay at a remote height under his waistcoat), the watch was as a necessity pulled out by throwing the body to one side, compressing the mouth and face to a mere mass of ruddy flesh on account of the exertion required, and drawing up the watch by its chain, like a bucket from a well.

But some thoughtful persons, who had seen him walking across one of his fields on a certain December morning--sunny and exceedingly mild--might have regarded Gabriel Oak in other aspects than these. In his face one might notice that many of the hues and curves of youth had tarried on to manhood: there even remained in his remoter crannies some relics of the boy. His height and breadth would have been sufficient to make his presence imposing, had they been exhibited with due consideration. But there is a way some men have, rural and urban alike, for which the mind is more responsible than flesh and sinew: it is a way of curtailing their dimensions by their manner of showing them. And from a quiet modesty that would have become a vestal which seemed continually to impress upon him that he had no great claim on the world's room, Oak walked unassumingly and with a faintly perceptible bend, yet distinct from a bowing of the shoulders. This may be said to be a defect in an individual if he depends for his valuation more upon his appearance than upon his capacity to wear well, which Oak did not.

He had just reached the time of life at which "young" is ceasing to be the prefix of "man" in speaking of one. He was at the brightest period of masculine growth, for his intellect and his emotions were clearly separated: he had passed the time during which the influence of youth indiscriminately mingles them in the character of impulse, and he had not yet arrived at the stage wherein they become united again, in the character of prejudice, by the influence of a wife and family. In short, he was twenty-eight, and a bachelor.

The field he was in this morning sloped to a ridge called Norcombe Hill. Through a spur of this hill ran the highway between Emminster and Chalk-Newton. Casually glancing over the hedge, Oak saw coming down the incline before him an ornamental spring waggon, painted yellow and gaily marked, drawn by two horses, a waggoner walking alongside bearing a whip perpendicularly. The waggon was laden with household goods and window plants, and on the apex of the whole sat a woman, young and attractive. Gabriel had not beheld the sight for more than half a minute, when the vehicle was brought to a standstill just beneath his eyes.

"The tailboard of the waggon is gone, Miss," said the waggoner.

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Table of Contents

Biographical Note
Introduction
Map of Wessex
Author's Preface
1 Description of Farmer Oak - An Incident 1
2 Night - The Flock - An Interior - Another Interior 7
3 A Girl on Horseback - Conversation 15
4 Gabriel's Resolve - The Visit - The Mistake 24
5 Departure of Bathsheba - A Pastoral Tragedy 34
6 The Fair - The Journey - The Fire 40
7 Recognition - A Timid Girl 51
8 The Malthouse - The Chat - News 55
9 The Homestead - A Visitor - Half-Confidences 74
10 Mistress and Men 81
11 Outside the Barracks - Snow - A Meeting 88
12 Farmers - A Rule - An Exception 94
13 Sortes Sanctorum - The Valentine 100
14 Effect of the Letter - Sunrise 105
15 A Morning Meeting - The Letter Again 110
16 All Saints' and All Souls' 121
17 In the Market-Place 124
18 Boldwood in Meditation - Regret 127
19 The Sheep-Washing - The Offer 132
20 Perplexity - Grinding the Shears - A Quarrel 138
21 Troubles in the Fold - A Message 145
22 The Great Barn and the Sheep-Shearers 152
23 Eventide - A Second Declaration 163
24 The Same Night - The Fir Plantation 170
25 The New Acquaintance Described 177
26 Scene on the Verge of the Hay-Mead 181
27 Hiving the Bees 191
28 The Hollow Amid the Ferns 195
29 Particulars of a Twilight Walk 201
30 Hot Cheeks and Tearful Eyes 209
31 Blame - Fury 214
32 Night - Horses Tramping 223
33 In the Sun - A Harbinger 232
34 Home Again - A Trickster 240
35 At an Upper Window 251
36 Wealth in Jeopardy - The Revel 256
37 The Storm - The Two Together 265
38 Rain - One Solitary Meets Another 273
39 Coming Home - A Cry 277
40 On Casterbridge Highway 282
41 Suspicion - Fanny Is Sent For 289
42 Joseph and His Burden - Buck's Head 300
43 Fanny's Revenge 312
44 Under a Tree - Reaction 323
45 Troy's Romanticism 331
46 The Gurgoyle: Its Doings 336
47 Adventures by the Shore 344
48 Doubts Arise - Doubts Linger 347
49 Oak's Advancement - A Great Hope 353
50 The Sheep Fair - Troy Touches His Wife's Hand 359
51 Bathsheba Talks with Her Outrider 374
52 Converging Courses 383
53 Concurritur - Horae Momento 394
54 After the Shock 406
55 The March Following - "Bathsheba Boldwood" 411
56 Beauty in Loneliness - After All 416
57 A Foggy Night and Morning - Conclusion 426
Notes 433
Reading Group Guide 467
A Note on the Text 469
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Reading Group Guide

1. According to the scholar Howard Babb, Hardy’s depiction of Wessex “impinges upon the consciousness of the reader in many ways . . . as mere setting, or a symbol, or as a being in its own right.” How does environment serve as an integral part of this novel?

2. The title of Far from the Madding Crowd, borrowed from Thomas Gray’s “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard, ” celebrates the “cool, sequestered” lives of rural folks. Is the title ironic or appropriate?

3. The rustics who work the land, tend the sheep, and gather at Warren’s malt house have been likened to a Greek chorus. Can you support this analogy? What function do the rustics serve in the novel?

4. Time is a theme that weaves throughout the story. One example may be found in Chapter XVI, when Frank Troy stands rigidly in All Saints Church awaiting Fanny’s delayed arrival while a “grotesque clockwork” agonizingly marks each passing moment. Where else does Hardy employ the theme of time, and what purpose does it serve?

5. In Chapter IV, Bathsheba tells Gabriel, “I want somebody to tame me; I am too independent: and you would never be able to, I know.” How is Bathsheba “tamed” over the course of the novel, and who is responsible for her transformation?

6. How does the subordinate plot concerning Fanny Robin and Sergeant Troy serve as a contract to the main storyline?

7. What do Bathsheba Everdene and Fanny Robin have in common, and how do they differ? And what does Hardy’s portrayal of these two women reveal about Victorian moral standards?

8. In Gabriel Oak, Sergeant Troy, andFarmer Boldwood, Hardy has depicted three very different suitors in pursuit of Bathsheba Everdene. What distinguishes each of these characters, and what values does each of them represent?

9. Two particular episodes in Far from the Madding Crowd are often cited for their profound sensuality: Sergeant Troy’s seduction of Bathsheba through swordplay (Chapter XXVIII), and Gabriel’s sheep-shearing scene (Chapter XXII). What elements does Hardy employ to make these scenes so powerful?

10. At the end of the novel, Hardy describes the remarkable bond between Gabriel and Bathsheba: “Theirs was that substantial affection which arises . . . when the two who are thrown together begin first by knowing the rougher sides of each other’s character, and not the best till further on, the romance growing up in the interstices of a mass of hard, prosaic reality.” How does this relationship serve as a contrast to other examples of love and courtship throughout the novel? Consider Bathsheba and her three suitors, as well as Fanny Robin and Sergeant Troy.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 121 )
Rating Distribution

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(46)

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(28)

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(19)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 121 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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  • 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 September 11, 2011

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    Posted December 26, 2009

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    Posted December 24, 2008

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