The Return of the Native (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)
  • The Return of the Native (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)
  • The Return of the Native (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)
  • The Return of the Native (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)
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The Return of the Native (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

3.8 43
by Thomas Hardy
     
 

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The Return of the Native, 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…  See more details below

Overview

The Return of the Native, 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.

A haunting tale of romantic self-deception, The Return of the Native focuses on mismatched lovers who see in each other only what they want to see, and decidedly not what is actually there.

Clym Yeobright, the native of the title, returns to Hardy’s fictional Egdon Heath determined to be a force for social progress. Dazzled by the beauty of Eustacia Vye, he imagines they’re soul mates, woos and wins her, and enters into what is at first a passionate marriage. He soon discovers that what she really wants is a passport to a more exciting and sophisticated life, away from provincial England. Surrounding them are Clym’s mother, strongly opposed to his marriage; Damon Wildeve, in love with Eustacia but married to Clym’s cousin, Thomasin; and the oddly ambiguous observer Diggory Venn, whose frustrated love for Thomasin turns him into either a guardian angel or a jealous manipulator—or perhaps both. This stew of curdled love and conflicting emotions can only boil over into tragedy, and the book’s darkly ironic ending marks it as both a classically Victorian novel and a forerunner of the modernist fiction that followed it.

Lauren Walsh teaches a writing seminar at Columbia University, where she is completing her Ph.D. in English and Comparative Literature.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781593082208
Publisher:
Barnes & Noble
Publication date:
07/01/2005
Series:
Barnes & Noble Classics Series
Pages:
464
Sales rank:
102,992
Product dimensions:
7.88(w) x 5.30(h) x 1.26(d)

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From Lauren Walsh’s Introduction to The Return of the Native

Who is Eustacia Vye? The question is more loaded than it seems at first, for Hardy changed his vision of her partway through creation of the novel. Although the distinctions between the 1878, 1895, and 1912 editions were minor at best, Hardy did significantly rework the course of the narrative in 1877 (at which point in time fifteen to sixteen chapters had been written), after an initial submission to Cornhill Magazine provoked a letter from Leslie Stephen, the magazine’s editor. Stephen “feared that the relations between Eustacia, Wildeve, and Thomasin might develop into something ‘dangerous’ for a family magazine”2 (Maitland, The Life and Letters of Leslie Stephen, p. 276). Eustacia began as a character named Avice (easy to read as “a vice”), who was sinister to the utmost. She was, in fact, indisputably witch-like, if not a witch outright. John Paterson in his excellent piece, “The Making of The Return of the Native,” explores in detail this transformation of Eustacia, comparing the original manuscript to the version submitted for print. “In her initial appearance, indeed,” he writes, “she was to have suggested a satanic creature supernatural in origin” (p. 17). This is a far cry from the romantic individual one meets in any of The Return’s published versions. Yet while the overt diabolical tendencies have fallen away, there still remain ominous attributes and allusions.

Indeed, Eustacia’s most striking epithet in the novel might be the reference to her as the “Queen of Night.” She both walks the nighttime heath and metaphorically embodies a “darkness” that predates the Christian culture of the Egdon peasantry. She appears initially as a regal silhouette standing upon the barrow as twilight sets along the heath. This fuses her from the first with a Celtic pagan history and with associations of death, the barrow being an ancient burial site. Behind those “Pagan eyes, full of nocturnal mysteries” lies a soul with a sometimes demoniacal nature. She is, of course, rumored by Susan Nunsuch to be a witch, but that charge never rises much above petty gossip. Yet as much as Hardy discredits Susan, he craftily presents to us a witch-like Eustacia nonetheless. On the opening night of the novel, she “conjures” Wildeve, metaphorically transforming him from a frog into a man. She beckons him to her fire, comparing herself to the Witch of Endor: “‘I determined you should come; and you have come! I have shown my power’.” This scene, it should be noted, presages its later, more fatalistically determined repetition: Wildeve, signaling to Eustacia, releases a moth, which incinerates itself in her candle flame. Such uncanny, occult recurrences are woven throughout the text, never overt enough to convict Eustacia of witchery nor ever rationalized enough to render her innocent.

This beauty who possesses a “true Tartarean dignity,” whose flowing hair “a whole winter did not contain darkness enough to form its shadow,” is shrouded in language of opacity, not only in her remnant diabolical associations, but also in her unreadability. As a being of contradiction, her “night-side of sentiment” speaks as much to the “witchly” as to the pitiable. Indeed, her associations with the mournful night and with elements of morbidity are also clear indications of her role as a tragic figure. She is helplessly and hopelessly trapped on Egdon Heath, and referring to her inability to tolerate this land, she naively utters her own ominous fate when she states, “I cannot endure the heath.” To be sure, she cannot, and the heath will eventually kill her.

More than anything, Eustacia desires to move away from this place. Bovary-like in her wants and demands, she has sculpted a fantasy world to which she aches to belong. She attaches the highest values to Paris, “the centre and vortex of the fashionable world”; she imagines that city as the epitome of freedom and happiness. When the cosmopolitan Clym returns from France’s capital, Eustacia drops Wildeve for her new and (temporarily) unswerving goal: “She had come out to see a man who might possibly have the power to deliver her soul from a most deadly oppression. What was Wildeve? Interesting, but inadequate. Perhaps she would see a sufficient hero [Clym] tonight.” She will, so she believes, affix herself to this worldly traveler and finally find her way out of the heath.

It is this self-serving and changeable nature that has motivated many critics to view Eustacia as petulant and adolescent. Seemingly setting out to achieve tragic status, she pines for an inconstant lover: “‘I should hate it to be all smooth. Indeed, I think I like you [Wildeve] to desert me a little once now and then. Love is the dismallest thing where the lover is quite honest.’” But more than she desires such vicissitudes, she pines for an adequate lover at all: “‘[Wildeve] does not suffice for my desire! . . . And I have no money to go alone! And if I could, what comfort to me? I must drag on next year, as I have dragged on this year, and the year after that as before. How I have tried and tried to be a splendid woman, and how destiny has been against me! . . . I do not deserve my lot!’” And while the emotions are probably genuine for this young woman of unfulfilled passions, one cannot help but note the whiny tone of self-absorption with which she views herself and her situation. She is inexperienced and selfish, and her childish side comes to the fore at times such as these.

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The Return of the Native 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 43 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
First of all, I just have to say...WHOA! What a deep, intriguing novel! Loved it all the way. Anyways, let's get to the review part. This novel is, for the most part, a tale of love distorted. The story pivots around five central characters. Eustacia Vye (a sexy, flirtatious muse lusting for vibrant city-life), Clym Yeobright (an intelligent young man who returns from Paris to relax in his native town, and weds the gorgeous Eustacia), Diggory Venn (the shy, shadowman of the novel, obsessively in love with Thomasin, he becomes her guardian angel in a sense that he refuses to allow any harm to come to her), Thomasin (Clym's cousin, who is delicate and innocent and mistakingly weds Damon), and Damon Wildeve (basically a 'player' who impulsively weds Thomasin when it appears that his passionate affair with Eustacia has fizzled). At last, all of these emotions boil over and result in a dynamic climax goading us towards a subtle, relieving ending. This book was embroidered with human sentiment and stenciled in sheer love. Can one ever tell where the heart truly leads? I don't know...but this book certainly opens up some doors.
mdee63 More than 1 year ago
I couldn't stop thinking about the characters after reading the book. Read to stimulate the brain. I enjoyed it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book has one of the most brilliant tragic heroines of all time. It is beautifully written and every detail is meaningful. Read it for sure!
Guest More than 1 year ago
In my senior year of high school, I was made to read this novel. I was reluctant at first but I did not have to read very far before I was completely immersed in the plot. I could not put it down and then I wanted to read it again when I was done. It is a tragic love story, but it is not as cliche as Romeo and Juliet has become and is more unpredictable. My favorite book of all time!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I actually purchased this on CD for the sole reason that it was narrated by Alan Rickman. He has a marvelous voice. I didn't know much about the story but was drawn in by his portrayal of the many characters in the story. The voices he uses for each character are unique and I knew which character he was speaking as when listening to the story. The first chapter, might put people off as it describes Egdon Heath in great detail. I listened to it twice as it was confusing. Once the human characters entered the scene, it just drew me in. Hardy writes with much detail in this story. I felt I knew and understood the characters and miss them now that the story has concluded. I would hope that Alan Rickman reads another book - makes it all the better!
Guest More than 1 year ago
You'd expect Hardy to be something English students have to suffer through, but I thoroughly enjoyed this one. A pleasant surprise. Eustacia and Clym are far from the stereotypical repressed Englishfolk. I actually related to this and it was surprisingly suspenseful!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I enjoy many of the works by Hardy but this one I am indifferent to. The beginning was not as easy read and boring at times. The actual story line was very interesting and the ending an utter dissapointment. The ending seemed to cliche frmo any other romantic tragedy. Through it all I enjoy Hardy's writing style and focus on character development along descriptions on pretty much everything.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've always admired Thomas Hardy's work. This book has a plot that is very well developed. Like most the books, the beginning is hard to get through. But I liked the ending very much.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Hardy's masterpiece is perhaps the best description in a novel in English litterature. With the vivid image of the heath coupled with the absorbing plot, and characters whom excite, facinate and annoy (in the case of Clym) Rotn certainly is a timeless classic.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i personaly thought that the book contained a very interesting plot. the whol ei dea of the woman that wishes to leave and not capable f leaving. she needs a man to help her but in everyway she would find one. even if she has to marry him.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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comett More than 1 year ago
Thomas Hardy's The Return of the Native (1878) is heavy wading for the first sixty odd pages. Description of geography (a depressing rural heath) is augmented by a greyish fall mood, perhaps a harbinger for the disappointments to be experienced by several characters whose desire to secure what they have yet to attain contrasts with their lack of appreciation for what they have. Nevertheless, the novel improves as emphasis shifts to the interconnected romantic intrigues of five characters, beginning with Diggory Venn, a reddleman who is honest, honourable, and kind. Regrettably, his love for the ill treated Thomasin Yeobright at the beginning of the novel goes unrequited as she loves caddish Damon Wildeve, a trained engineer who left that profession years prior and currently owns and manages a local inn/ public house. Wildeve, for his part, pines for the reclusive, eccentric, and beautiful Eustacia Vye, who is not well known or liked within the community and is erroneously thought by some to be a witch. But in fairness to the locals, Eustacia is very much to the manor born and considers herself superior to those around her. Also, her love for Wildeve, such as it is while he remains a challenge, vanishes when he comes to her cap in hand, in part because she has concluded that Thomasin's cousin, the returning native, Clym Yeobright, is better positioned to spirit her away to a more cosmopolitan location. But alas, Clym, despite being successfully employed for years in Paris as a manager for a diamond merchant, does not respect his work and wants to accomplish more for humanity, perhaps by remaining home and establishing a school, which he hopes will ultimately improve the lot of his community. At this point, readers may be forgiven if they conclude that a relationship between Eustacia and Clym is a mere point of intersection between two individuals heading in different directions----- a dilemma compounded by Clym's mother, whose disapproval brings destructive consequences. As a romance, The Return of the Native is true to form with its frustrations, misunderstandings, missed opportunities, and ultimate triumphs. It is an entertaining read and, in my opinion, preferable to Far From the Madding Crowd (1874) and The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886). On a concluding note, this work is highly recommended for fans of well crafted (and tragic) romantic plots with thoroughly developed characters, some likeable, others not. It remains one of the great English literary classics and a welcome addition to university level 19th century literature courses.
BeckyNC More than 1 year ago
It took a bit for me to get up to speed with some of the wording but loving the story and the descriptions are incredible. Like Cold Mountain put me in the Carolina Mtns. this book puts me on the Scottish Heath.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The scan is not so bad as the first reviewer makes out. It is far from perfect, because the scan process uses OCR to convert the words to text; it is not a photographic image. Because of this, certain abberations occur, such as an apostrophe being changed to a '7' in a number of places. But the text is easily readable for the most part. If one is reading the book for a course in literature, I would not recommend it. (I noted a sentence just before the start of Chapter IV 'The Halt on the Turnpike Road' which ended with the words "and the two women descended the tumulus." In my old paperback version of this book, the same sentence ends with "and the two women descended the barrow.") For pleasurable reading, though, the scan of this book is just fine. (Please note, if reading for pleasure, the first 20 pages or so consist of boring descriptions! If you can weather those pages, you'll find that the story picks up and is more enjoyable.)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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¿
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