Far from the Madding Crowd

Far from the Madding Crowd

4.3 40
by Thomas Hardy

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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.  See more details below


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.

Editorial Reviews

A tour de force for Stephen Thorne.
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

Product Details

Penguin Group (USA)
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
4.45(w) x 7.15(h) x 1.43(d)

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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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What People are saying about this

Virginia Woolf
Hardy's genius was unceratin in development, uneven in accomplishment, but, when the moment came, magnificent in achievement. The moment came, completely and fully, in Far From the Maddening Crowd. The subject was right; the poet and the countryman, the sensual man, the somber reflective man, the man of learning, all inlisted to produce a book which, however fashions may chop and change, must hold its place among the great English novels.

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Far from the Madding Crowd 4.3 out of 5 based on 3 ratings. 40 reviews.
EdnaMole More than 1 year ago
I picked up Far From the Madding Crowd in my quest to read more classic literature. It took quite awhile for me to work my way through this book. I almost quit reading it several times. The writing style definitely takes some concentration. I felt more comfortable with the 'prose' after about ten chapters of reading. Some of the sentences stretch on for an entire paragraph (which takes some getting used to). The next sentence is a typical example of the sentence structure: "For dreariness nothing could surpass a prospect in the outskirts of the city of Melchester at a later hour on this same snowy evening - if that may be called a prospect of which the chief constituent was darkness." This book is not for the average modern reader.
Big_Willy More than 1 year ago
When I started reading this book, many people commented that they made a movie from it. I was starting the book at the time and thought, "Really?", because the first chapters are rather slow with few interesting parts. Thank goodness I don't give up on books I start because this tale of a sheep herder, a girl whom he falls in love, and their interwoven lives within a rural English farming town (including a classic English gentlemen) was superbly captivating. I also liked the overarching theme that failures in life, though dark and fearful, can be the commencement of something greater and better for someone in the future.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I stumbled on this book in a small public library. After reading several chapters, I ordered it as I knew I would want a copy permanently on my bookshelf. This book is superb. The descriptions of the 19th century country side are crafted as only a master could. I savoured this novel and the tale has continued to haunt me. I probably would not have enjoyed it in my younger days but now relished the impressions Hardy paints for us of time and place. I highly recommend it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I greatly enjoyed this novel, not so much for its stark stoicism, but rather for the array of characters who make the book one to remember. Hardy does an excellent job of building his characters, making them dynamic in many respects, while retaining a certain sense of humaness and realism. 'Far from the Madding Crowd' is a novel that you can read time and time again; I highly recommend it for readers who love 19th century British lit, the works of Emily and Charlotte Bronte, or Dickens.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous 3 months ago
Did you punch daryl?
Anonymous 4 months ago
*Walks in*
Anonymous 4 months ago
Gifted res 2)) she walks in. (Bbl appointment)
Anonymous 4 months ago
Anonymous 5 months ago
I will come tomorrow for school.....
Anonymous 5 months ago
He walked in, looking around cautiously.
Anonymous 5 months ago
I walk in, looking around.
Anonymous 5 months ago
A demon-like figure walks in, holding a backpack that appears to have nothing in it.
Anonymous 5 months ago
Looks around and sits in a corner.
Anonymous 5 months ago
*walks in, trying to sneak past everybody*
Anonymous 5 months ago
Walks in (i went to gifted res one but where are the bios)
Anonymous 5 months ago
She walked in, headphones on.
Anonymous 12 months ago
I am about half way thru .am enjoying it very much
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A wonderful classic well worth reading.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Beautiful story
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