The Return of the Native

Overview

"O deliver my heart from this fearful gloom and loneliness," prays the passionate Eustacia Vye, who detests her life amid the dreary environs of Egdon Heath. With the return of Clym Yeobright from Paris, her escape from the heath and its brooding isolation appears to be at hand. Clym finds in Eustacia the same dark mystery of his native heath, and his irresistible attraction to them both leads to a clash of idealism and realism. Thomas Hardy's timeless tale of a romantic misalliance embodies his view of character as fate and underscores the ...
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Return of the Native

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Overview

"O deliver my heart from this fearful gloom and loneliness," prays the passionate Eustacia Vye, who detests her life amid the dreary environs of Egdon Heath. With the return of Clym Yeobright from Paris, her escape from the heath and its brooding isolation appears to be at hand. Clym finds in Eustacia the same dark mystery of his native heath, and his irresistible attraction to them both leads to a clash of idealism and realism. Thomas Hardy's timeless tale of a romantic misalliance embodies his view of character as fate and underscores the tragic nature of ordinary human lives. Despite his grim outlook, Hardy charms readers with the warmth and vitality of his characters, his loving portraits of the English countryside, and his realistic recreations of local dialect. Shakespearian in its intricate plotting and deft irony, The Return of the Native ranks among the author's greatest works.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Most of Hardy’s novels, and particularly the early ones, have a Shakespearean power of creating a unique world and climate of being . . . The Return of the Native is . . . thoughtful, valedictory, poetic, tinged with the somberness of an uncertainty which seems to well up from the depths of the author’s own subconscious . . . Hardy’s sense of the tragic life of human beings, mere small fragments of consciousness in a vast uncaring universe, comes directly from his own youthful awareness of the place and circumstances described in the novel.” –from the Introduction by John Bayley
Rosemarie Morgan
"Simon Avery's edition of The Return of the Native, Hardy's first great classic, provides a beautifully balanced, meticulously researched resource. Avery's editorial approach is, in every respect, new and fresh — even in his interpretation of the novel's denouement. Offering a wide range of critical perspectives, the compelling Introduction features a rich collection of viewpoints and critiques in a manner so informative, compact, and stylish that exploration becomes the modus operandi within and beyond the plot. In turn, the appendices at the end of the book complement the contextualising of the Introduction and footnotes. A selection of Hardy's other writings in prose and poetry adds textual weight and structural balance overall."
Ralph Pite
"Simon Avery has edited Hardy's The Return of the Native with great skill: his footnotes are detailed and extensive without becoming intrusive; his bibliography of further reading selects judiciously from old and new materials; and he gives a generous range of contemporary materials to help contextualise the book. Alongside the unmistakable nineteenth-century concerns present in Hardy's novel, Avery alerts us to less well-known ones, illuminating in particular Hardy's depiction of Eustacia Vye, who can be seen from this edition as a precursor to Sue Bridehead, the proto-feminist of Jude the Obscure. Distinctively too, Avery includes a selection of Hardy's poetry, helpfully breaking down the barrier between Hardy the novelist and Hardy the poet. In all respects, the volume continues the excellent standard of Broadview Hardy editions."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375757181
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 2/28/2001
  • Series: Paperback Classics Series
  • Edition description: 2001 MODER
  • Pages: 448
  • Sales rank: 844,183
  • Product dimensions: 5.16 (w) x 8.01 (h) x 0.94 (d)

Meet the Author

Thomas Hardy was born in 1840 near Dorchester, the son of a builder. His education was rural and ordinary for the time, teaching him a mixture of folklore, the realities of rural life, English literature and church music which was to be reflected in his novels. Apprenticeship and office work in architecture from 1856 to 1867 took him to with London, and also saw him submitting poetry for magazine publication, but without success. He returned to Dorchester and started writing novels, the first published being Desperate Remedies in 1871. Far From the Madding Crowd, in 1874, was a runaway success and made him economically secure. While moving around England and the Continent and ultimately settling back in the West Countryin the years that followed, Hardy wrote a string of major novels and short-story collections. The reception of Jude the Obscure (1895), however, led him to give up novels and return to poetry, which he wrote prolifically and eclectically, from lyrics to the three-part epic drama The Dynasts, from 1898 until his death, having gradually become a literary establishment figure, in 1928.

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Read an Excerpt

A SATURDAY afternoon in November was approaching the time of twilight, and the vast tract of unenclosed wild known as Egdon Heath embrowned itself moment by moment. Overhead the hollow stretch of whitish cloud shutting out the sky was as a tent which had the whole heath for its floor.

The heaven being spread with this pallid screen and the earth with the darkest vegetation, their meeting-line at the horizon was clearly marked. In such contrast the heath wore the appearance of an instalment of night which had taken up its place before its astronomical hour was come: darkness had to a great extent arrived hereon, while day stood distinct in the sky. Looking upwards, a furze-cutter would have been inclined to continue work; looking down, he would have decided to finish his faggot and go home. The distant rims of the world and of the firmament seemed to be a division in time no less than a division in matter. The face of the heath by its mere complexion added half an hour to evening; it could in like manner retard the dawn, sadden noon, anticipate the frowning of storms scarcely generated, and intensify the opacity of a moonless midnight to a cause of shaking dread.

In fact, precisely at this transitional point of its nightly roll into darkness the great and particular glory of the Egdon waste began, and nobody could be said to understand the heath who had not been there at such a time. It could best be felt when it could not clearly be seen, its complete effect and explanation lying in this and the succeeding hours before the next dawn: then, and only then, did it tell its true tale. The spot was, indeed, a near relation of night, and when night showed itself an apparenttendency to gravitate together could be perceived in its shades and the scene. The sombre stretch of rounds and hollows seemed to rise and meet the evening gloom in pure sympathy, the heath exhaling darkness as rapidly as the heavens precipitated it. And so the obscurity in the air and the obscurity in the land closed together in a black fraternization towards which each advanced half-way.

The place became full of a watchful intentness now; for when other things sank brooding to sleep the heath appeared slowly to awake and listen. Every night its Titanic form seemed to await something; but it had waited thus, unmoved, during so many centuries, through the crises of so many things, that it could only be imagined to await one last crisis—the final overthrow.


From the Paperback edition.

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Table of Contents

Book 1 The Three Women
I. A Face on Which Time Makes But Little Impression 1
II. Humanity Appears upon the Scene, Hand in Hand with Trouble 4
III. The Custom of the Country 9
IV. The Halt on the Turnpike Road 25
V. Perplexity among Honest People 29
VI. The Figure against the Sky 39
VII. Queen of Night 49
VIII. Those Who Are Found Where There Is Said to Be Nobody 54
IX. Love Leads a Shrewd Man into Strategy 58
X. A Desperate Attempt at Persuasion 65
XI. The Dishonesty of an Honest Woman 72
Book 2 The Arrival
I. Tidings of the Comer 79
II. The People at Blooms-End Make Ready 83
III. How a Little Sound Produced a Great Dream 86
IV. Eustacia Is Led on to an Adventure 89
V. Through the Moonlight 97
VI. The Two Stand Face to Face 102
VII. A Coalition Between Beauty and Oddness 111
VIII. Firmness Is Discovered in a Gentle Heart 118
Book 3 The Fascination
I. "My Mind to Me a Kingdom Is" 127
II. The New Course Causes Disappointment 131
III. The First Act in a Timeworn Drama 137
IV. An Hour of Bliss and Many Hours of Sadness 148
V. Sharp Words Are Spoken, and a Crisis Ensues 154
VI. Yeobright Goes, and the Breach Is Complete 159
VII. The Morning and the Evening of a Day 165
VIII. A New Force Disturbs the Current 175
Book 4 The Closed Door
I. The Rencounter by the Pool 183
II. He Is Set upon by Adversities; But He Sings a Song 188
III. She Goes Out to Battle Against Depression 196
IV. Rough Coercion Is Employed 205
V. The Journey Across the Health 211
VI. A Conjuncture, and Its Result upon the Pedestrian 214
VII. The Tragic Meeting of Two Old Friends 222
VIII. Eustacia Hears of Good Fortune and Beholds Evil 228
Book 5 The Discovery
I. "Wherefore Is Light Given to Him That Is in Misery" 235
II. A Lurid Light Breaks in Upon a Darkened Understanding 241
III. Eustacia Dresses Herself on a Black Morning 248
IV. The Ministrations of a Half-Forgotten One 254
V. An Old Move Inadvertently Repeated 258
VI. Thomasin Argues with Her Cousin, and He Writes a Letter 263
VII. The Night of the Sixth of November 268
VIII. Rain, Darkness, and Anxious Wanderers 274
IX. Sights and Sounds Draw the Wanderers Together 282
Book 6 Aftercourses
I. The Inevitable Movement Onward 291
II. Thomasin Walks in a Green Place by the Roman Road 298
III. The Serious Discourse of Clym with His Cousin 300
IV. Cheerfulness Again Asserts Itself at Blooms-End, and Clym Finds His Vocation 304
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Reading Group Guide

1. What does Egdon Heath symbolize to you? How does each character relate to the heath? To what extent does the landscape control the actions of the characters or influence them? How do the characters resist or succumb to the landscape? What is the role of urban life in the novel?

2. Discuss Clym's spiritual odyssey. How does it shed light on Hardy's concerns in the novel? Would you describe Clym as idealistic? How does his attitude compare to that of the people of Egdon Heath or that of Eustacia?

3. Why does Eustacia hate Egdon Heath? Is she too headstrong? How much control does Eustacia have over events that shape her life? Over the lives of others? Do you think Eustacia symbolizes human limitation or potential? Do you think her death is a reconciliation of sorts, or not?

4. Discuss the role of fate or chance in the novel. Is Hardy sympathetic to the victims of chance in this novel? To what extent are events caused by the force of a character's personality (e.g., Eustacia), rather than by chance? To what extent do actions produce results opposite from that desired? Do you think there is a connection between this use of irony and the role of fate in the novel?

5. Discuss the novel's opening scene, in which Hardy describes Egdon Heath. How does this establish the emotional tone of the book? How does it foreshadow the action within the novel?

6. Why is Eustacia interested in Clym? How does this set the wheels of the plot in motion? How does this affect the other characters, like Thomasin and particularly Clym's mother? What is Wildeve's role in Mrs. Yeobright's fate?

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