The Return of the Nativeby Thomas Hardy
"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.
D. H. Lawrence
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.
Meet the Author
Thomas Hardy (2 June 1840 - 11 January 1928) was an English novelist and poet. A Victorian realist in the tradition of George Eliot, he was influenced both in his novels and in his poetry by Romanticism, especially William Wordsworth.
- Date of Birth:
- June 2, 1840
- Date of Death:
- January 11, 1928
- Place of Birth:
- Higher Brockhampon, Dorset, England
- Place of Death:
- Max Gate, Dorchester, England
- Served as apprentice to architect James Hicks
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