Eustacia Vye is as wild and beautiful as the landscape that surrounds her grandfather’s house on Egdon Heath. Dark-haired, tempestuous, and haughty, she yearns to escape her rural corner of England, and believes that by marrying Clym Yeobright, a native of the heath just returned from Paris, she will find the romance and adventure her heart craves. But Clym’s interests run in the opposite direction—toward comfort, community, and tradition—and the young couple’s happy union soon turns miserable. When a former suitor pays a fateful visit, Eustacia must decide whether to break her vows to Clym or forego her exotic dreams forever.
One of Thomas Hardy’s most beloved novels, The Return of the Native brilliantly evokes the dangerous allure of romantic fantasies. Rich in mythological allusions yet grounded in the hard realities of nineteenth-century village life, it is one of the most heartbreaking tragedies ever told.
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About the Author
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
Education:Served as apprentice to architect James Hicks
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The Return of the Native
By Thomas Hardy
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 2016 Open Road Integrated Media
All rights reserved.
A Face on Which Time Makes but Little Impression
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 and 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 apparent tendency 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 halfway.
The place became full of a watchful intentness now; for when other things sank blooding 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.
It was a spot which returned upon the memory of those who loved it with an aspect of peculiar and kindly congruity. Smiling champaigns of flowers and fruit hardly do this, for they are permanently harmonious only with an existence of better reputation as to its issues than the present. Twilight combined with the scenery of Egdon Heath to evolve a thing majestic without severity, impressive without showiness, emphatic in its admonitions, grand in its simplicity. The qualifications which frequently invest the facade of a prison with far more dignity than is found in the facade of a palace double its size lent to this heath a sublimity in which spots renowned for beauty of the accepted kind are utterly wanting. Fair prospects wed happily with fair times; but alas, if times be not fair! Men have oftener suffered from, the mockery of a place too smiling for their reason than from the oppression of surroundings oversadly tinged. Haggard Egdon appealed to a subtler and scarcer instinct, to a more recently learnt emotion, than that which responds to the sort of beauty called charming and fair.
Indeed, it is a question if the exclusive reign of this orthodox beauty is not approaching its last quarter. The new Vale of Tempe may be a gaunt waste in Thule; human souls may find themselves in closer and closer harmony with external things wearing a sombreness distasteful to our race when it was young. The time seems near, if it has not actually arrived, when the chastened sublimity of a moor, a sea, or a mountain will be all of nature that is absolutely in keeping with the moods of the more thinking among mankind. And ultimately, to the commonest tourist, spots like Iceland may become what the vineyards and myrtle gardens of South Europe are to him now; and Heidelberg and Baden be passed unheeded as he hastens from the Alps to the sand dunes of Scheveningen.
The most thoroughgoing ascetic could feel that he had a natural right to wander on Egdon — he was keeping within the line of legitimate indulgence when he laid himself open to influences such as these. Colours and beauties so far subdued were, at least, the birthright of all. Only in summer days of highest feather did its mood touch the level of gaiety. Intensity was more usually reached by way of the solemn than by way of the brilliant, and such a sort of intensity was often arrived at during winter darkness, tempests, and mists. Then Egdon was aroused to reciprocity; for the storm was its lover, and the wind its friend. Then it became the home of strange phantoms; and it was found to be the hitherto unrecognized original of those wild regions of obscurity which are vaguely felt to be compassing us about in midnight dreams of flight and disaster, and are never thought of after the dream till revived by scenes like this.
It was at present a place perfectly accordant with man's nature — neither ghastly, hateful, nor ugly; neither commonplace, unmeaning, nor tame; but, like man, slighted and enduring; and withal singularly colossal and mysterious in its swarthy monotony. As with some persons who have long lived apart, solitude seemed to look out of its countenance. It had a lonely face, suggesting tragical possibilities.
This obscure, obsolete, superseded country figures in Domesday. Its condition is recorded therein as that of heathy, furzy, briary wilderness — "Bruaria." Then follows the length and breadth in leagues; and, though some uncertainty exists as to the exact extent of this ancient lineal measure, it appears from the figures that the area of Egdon down to the present day has but little diminished. "Turbaria Bruaria" — the right of cutting heath-turf — occurs in charters relating to the district. "Overgrown with heth and mosse," says Leland of the same dark sweep of country.
Here at least were intelligible facts regarding landscape — far-reaching proofs productive of genuine satisfaction. The untameable, Ishmaelitish thing that Egdon now was it always had been. Civilization was its enemy; and ever since the beginning of vegetation its soil had worn the same antique brown dress, the natural and invariable garment of the particular formation. In its venerable one coat lay a certain vein of satire on human vanity in clothes. A person on a heath in raiment of modern cut and colours has more or less an anomalous look. We seem to want the oldest and simplest human clothing where the clothing of the earth is so primitive.
To recline on a stump of thorn in the central valley of Egdon, between afternoon and night, as now, where the eye could reach nothing of the world outside the summits and shoulders of heathland which filled the whole circumference of its glance, and to know that everything around and underneath had been from prehistoric times as unaltered as the stars overhead, gave ballast to the mind adrift on change, and harassed by the irrepressible New. The great inviolate place had an ancient permanence which the sea cannot claim. Who can say of a particular sea that it is old? Distilled by the sun, kneaded by the moon, it is renewed in a year, in a day, or in an hour. The sea changed, the fields changed, the rivers, the villages, and the people changed, yet Egdon remained. Those surfaces were neither so steep as to be destructible by weather, nor so flat as to be the victims of floods and deposits. With the exception of an aged highway, and a still more aged barrow presently to be referred to — themselves almost crystallized to natural products by long continuance — even the trifling irregularities were not caused by pickaxe, plough, or spade, but remained as the very finger-touches of the last geological change.
The above-mentioned highway traversed the lower levels of the heath, from one horizon to another. In many portions of its course it overlaid an old vicinal way, which branched from the great Western road of the Romans, the Via Iceniana, or Ikenild Street, hard by. On the evening under consideration it would have been noticed that, though the gloom had increased sufficiently to confuse the minor features of the heath, the white surface of the road remained almost as clear as ever.CHAPTER 2
Humanity Appears upon the Scene, Hand in Hand with Trouble
Along the road walked an old man. He was white-headed as a mountain, bowed in the shoulders, and faded in general aspect. He wore a glazed hat, an ancient boat-cloak, and shoes; his brass buttons bearing an anchor upon their face. In his hand was a silver-headed walking stick, which he used as a veritable third leg, perseveringly dotting the ground with its point at every few inches' interval. One would have said that he had been, in his day, a naval officer of some sort or other.
Before him stretched the long, laborious road, dry, empty, and white. It was quite open to the heath on each side, and bisected that vast dark surface like the parting-line on a head of black hair, diminishing and bending away on the furthest horizon.
The old man frequently stretched his eyes ahead to gaze over the tract that he had yet to traverse. At length he discerned, a long distance in front of him, a moving spot, which appeared to be a vehicle, and it proved to be going the same way as that in which he himself was journeying. It was the single atom of life that the scene contained, and it only served to render the general loneliness more evident. Its rate of advance was slow, and the old man gained upon it sensibly.
When he drew nearer he perceived it to be a spring van, ordinary in shape, but singular in colour, this being a lurid red. The driver walked beside it; and, like his van, he was completely red. One dye of that tincture covered his clothes, the cap upon his head, his boots, his face, and his hands. He was not temporarily overlaid with the colour; it permeated him.
The old man knew the meaning of this. The traveller with the cart was a reddleman — a person whose vocation it was to supply farmers with redding for their sheep. He was one of a class rapidly becoming extinct in Wessex, filling at present in the rural world the place which, during the last century, the dodo occupied in the world of animals. He is a curious, interesting, and nearly perished link between obsolete forms of life and those which generally prevail.
The decayed officer, by degrees, came up alongside his fellow-wayfarer, and wished him good evening. The reddleman turned his head, and replied in sad and occupied tones. He was young, and his face, if not exactly handsome, approached so near to handsome that nobody would have contradicted an assertion that it really was so in its natural colour. His eye, which glared so strangely through his stain, was in itself attractive — keen as that of a bird of prey, and blue as autumn mist. He had neither whisker nor moustache, which allowed the soft curves of the lower part of his face to be apparent. His lips were thin, and though, as it seemed, compressed by thought, there was a pleasant twitch at their corners now and then. He was clothed throughout in a tight-fitting suit of corduroy, excellent in quality, not much worn, and well-chosen for its purpose, but deprived of its original colour by his trade. It showed to advantage the good shape of his figure. A certain well-to-do air about the man suggested that he was not poor for his degree. The natural query of an observer would have been, Why should such a promising being as this have hidden his prepossessing exterior by adopting that singular occupation?
After replying to the old man's greeting he showed no inclination to continue in talk, although they still walked side by side, for the elder traveller seemed to desire company. There were no sounds but that of the booming wind upon the stretch of tawny herbage around them, the crackling wheels, the tread of the men, and the footsteps of the two shaggy ponies which drew the van. They were small, hardy animals, of a breed between Galloway and Exmoor, and were known as "heath-croppers" here.
Now, as they thus pursued their way, the reddleman occasionally left his companion's side, and, stepping behind the van, looked into its interior through a small window. The look was always anxious. He would then return to the old man, who made another remark about the state of the country and so on, to which the reddleman again abstractedly replied, and then again they would lapse into silence. The silence conveyed to neither any sense of awkwardness; in these lonely places wayfarers, after a first greeting, frequently plod on for miles without speech; contiguity amounts to a tacit conversation where, otherwise than in cities, such contiguity can be put an end to on the merest inclination, and where not to put an end to it is intercourse in itself.
Possibly these two might not have spoken again till their parting, had it not been for the reddleman's visits to his van. When he returned from his fifth time of looking in the old man said, "You have something inside there besides your load?"
"Somebody who wants looking after?"
Not long after this a faint cry sounded from the interior. The reddleman hastened to the back, looked in, and came away again.
"You have a child there, my man?"
"No, sir, I have a woman."
"The deuce you have! Why did she cry out?"
"Oh, she has fallen asleep, and not being used to traveling, she's uneasy, and keeps dreaming."
"A young woman?"
"Yes, a young woman."
"That would have interested me forty years ago. Perhaps she's your wife?"
"My wife!" said the other bitterly. "She's above mating with such as I. But there's no reason why I should tell you about that."
"That's true. And there's no reason why you should not. What harm can I do to you or to her?"
The reddleman looked in the old man's face. "Well, sir," he said at last, "I knew her before today, though perhaps it would have been better if I had not. But she's nothing to me, and I am nothing to her; and she wouldn't have been in my van if any better carriage had been there to take her."
"Where, may I ask?"
"I know the town well. What was she doing there?"
"Oh, not much — to gossip about. However, she's tired to death now, and not at all well, and that's what makes her so restless. She dropped off into a nap about an hour ago, and 'twill do her good."
"A nice-looking girl, no doubt?"
"You would say so."
The other traveller turned his eyes with interest towards the van window, and, without withdrawing them, said, "I presume I might look in upon her?"
"No," said the reddleman abruptly. "It is getting too dark for you to see much of her; and, more than that, I have no right to allow you. Thank God she sleeps so well, I hope she won't wake till she's home."
"Who is she? One of the neighbourhood?"
"'Tis no matter who, excuse me."
"It is not that girl of Blooms-End, who has been talked about more or less lately? If so, I know her; and I can guess what has happened."
"'Tis no matter. ... Now, sir, I am sorry to say that we shall soon have to part company. My ponies are tired, and I have further to go, and I am going to rest them under this bank for an hour."
The elder traveller nodded his head indifferently, and the reddleman turned his horses and van in upon the turf, saying, "Good night." The old man replied, and proceeded on his way as before.
The reddleman watched his form as it diminished to a speck on the road and became absorbed in the thickening films of night. He then took some hay from a truss which was slung up under the van, and, throwing a portion of it in front of the horses, made a pad of the rest, which he laid on the ground beside his vehicle. Upon this he sat down, leaning his back against the wheel. From the interior a low soft breathing came to his ear. It appeared to satisfy him, and he musingly surveyed the scene, as if considering the next step that he should take.
Excerpted from The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy. Copyright © 2016 Open Road Integrated Media. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
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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|
|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|
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?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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.
I couldn't stop thinking about the characters after reading the book. Read to stimulate the brain. I enjoyed it!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
This novel has all the hallmarks of a classic Hardy novel: doomed love affairs, characters who make poor choices, a portentous environment. Added together, though, it falls a bit short of Hardy's best novels. I think the main problem is that all the characters are either uninteresting or ambiguous at best. Eustacia is probably the most interesting character as the love interest to the "Native" of the title, but she is still one-sided; all she wants is to get out of the heath and live a glamorous life in Paris. Of course, such aspirations are doomed from the outset in Hardy, and her dashed dream is the cornerstone that brings down all the others. Despite its weaknesses, its typical Hardian (Hardy-esque?) strengths make it a worthwhile read.
Egdon Heath is a sparsely settled wilderness in the southwest of England. It¿s dominated by the wind, the sky and the feral vegetation of fern and furze. It is, as the author introduces it in the first chapter, ¿a face on which time has made but little impression.¿ To its native inhabitants it¿s a quiet county refuge from the bustle and commotion of the mid-nineteenth century, but to young Eustacia Vye it¿s a wilderness of exile from civilized life from which she has little hope of escape. Damon Wildeve, her former boyfriend and owner of the local inn is about to marry Tamsin Yeobright, a pleasing and innocent girl from a good family, and Eustacia is suffering bitter pangs of envy and jealousy. Damon wasn¿t all that much of a catch, but emotional entanglement with him was her only source of relief from the tedium of county life. And then she hears that Tamsin¿s cousin is coming for a visit. He¿s a clever and promising young man, a diamond trader who lives in Paris ¿ Paris the heart of civilization, culture and beauty. But how will she manage a visit to the home of her rival? Eustacia begins to scheme. The characters carry their passions, pride and false assumptions about the motives of their fellows with them as they criss-cross the heath, but ultimately human plans are overwhelmed by the geographies of heath, history, and social convention. But in this reading is of the final, 1912, edition of the novel, only one is able to fulfill his desire. Architect turned novelist Hardy constructs from a realistic masterpiece of beautiful and brooding tragedy. And for the listener, the combination of Hardy¿s prose and Rickman¿s voice is a rich and sensual delight.
Eustacia Vye lives with her grandfather on Hardy¿s famous Egdon Heath, suffering its loneliness by waiting for rescue in a state of undirected passion. At first attracted to the unavailability of the formerly attentive Wildeve, she next clings to the arrival of Clym Yeobright, who falls in love with and marries her; but her notion of rescue involves leaving the heath far behind, and Clym means to stay; and, as this is Thomas Hardy, events tend tragedy-wards.It took me an inordinately long to time to get around to listening to this; my lassitude was caused in part by being bitten by Tess of the D¿Urbervilles at an early age, and in part by not being sure whether I¿d want to read along, or just listen (I don¿t often `read¿ by audiobook, and the experience wasn¿t something I imagined I¿d enjoy without a book in hand as well). As it turns out, all one can do is listen; Alan Rickman¿s voice is tyrannical in its insistence on absolute devotion of attention.I was hooked from word one¿ what rapturously bleak descriptions of the heath-land Hardy embarks upon, and my own inner voice would have done it scant justice; if the entire book had simply been Mr. Rickman vocalising Hardy¿s lyrical rural scenic creation, I wouldn¿t have cared, even though once he began to bring the voices of characters alive I was captured anew. Then the plot begins to emerge, people move about and Mr. Rickman slips gracefully into the background and lets the story do its work... the story is a grand mixture of the unfortunate, the desperate, the hysterical, the passive and the hopeful that I have met in Hardy¿s other works; his plots, while readable, are secondary to the description, as with no other writer but each of the characters in The Return of the Native inspire pity and interest in the listener.I have no idea if the experience of simply reading The Return of the Native would have moved me to a five-star rating; I only know that this edition of the book, with its sublime marriage of writing and reading, has absolutely captivated me for hours on end.
2007, BBC Audiobooks, Read by Alan RickmanThe Return of the Native, set exclusively on Egdon Heath, opens with reddleman Diggory Venn transporting home a naïve, disgraced Thomasin Yeobright, who was to have married innkeeper Damon Wildeve, earlier in the day. Wildeve, we soon learn, is preoccupied with the novel¿s heroine, Eustasia Vye, undoubtedly one of literature¿s great characters. Eustasia is intelligent, devious, passionate, and a manipulative object of desire ¿ I did not find her likeable, but she was completely enthralling. Believing herself superior, she detests life on the Heath, and in this vein, she sets out in self-serving pursuit of Clym Yeobright, the ¿native,¿ who has just returned to Egdon from Paris, where he has been living a prosperous life as a diamond merchant. Twists of fate thwart even the best laid plans, of course, and the characters are inexorably entwined in complex relationships which Eustacia¿s ambition has set in motion.Hardy¿s language is beautifully mellifluous; the novel¿s narrative is richly layered, read in many voices. Themes include the celebration of the pagan, the primitive, and the pastoral. Hardy glorifies the simplicity of life for the working classes and celebrates the pastoral for its superiority. Egdon Heath is a character in its own right; Clym experiences perfect harmony with nature when he goes to work cutting furze:¿Bees hummed around his ears with an intimate air, and tugged at the heath and furze-flowers at his side in such numbers as to weigh them down to the sod. The strange amber-coloured butterflies which Egdon produced, and which were never seen elsewhere, quivered in the breath of his lips, alighted upon his bowed back, and sported with the glittering point of his hook as he flourished it up and down. Tribes of emerald-green grasshoppers leaped over his feet, falling awkwardly on their backs, heads, or hips, like unskillful acrobats, as chance might rule; or engaged themselves in noisy flirtations under the fern-fronds with silent ones of homely hue. Huge flies, ignorant of larders and wire-netting, and quite in a savage state, buzzed about him without knowing that he was a man. In and out of the fern-dells snakes glided in their most brilliant blue and yellow guise, it being the season immediately following the shedding of their old skins, when their colours are brightest. Litters of young rabbits came out from their forms to sun themselves upon hillocks, the hot beams blazing through the delicate tissue of each thin-fleshed ear, and firing it to a blood-red transparency in which the veins could be seen.¿ (Bk 4, Ch 2)The Return of the Native is timeless, the mark of a true classic for me. I cannot say enough about Alan Rickman¿s accomplishment as narrator. Sublime! Highly recommended.
Hardy's wife has been quoted as saying that, for all the memorable female characters he created, Hardy knew nothing about real women. I can believe that. Though I enjoyed this book, it plays out like a variation on Far From the Madding Crowd, with another woman, Eustacia Vye, who suffers and causes others to suffer, yet doesn't seem to act in a psychologically consistent or realistic way. As in Madding Crowd, the most sympathetic character gets some happiness in the end, but no one else does. Physical descriptions are gorgeous.
I think this is the best of Hardy's novels. Dark, complicated, with characters who make difficult and not often happy decisions. Eustacia Vye is especially well drawn. Worth reading more than once.
The Return of the Native is one of those books you're forced to read in high school. And as such, you're prone to hate it, because high school English teachers make you dissect the creature of literature before you actually get a chance to observe it in action, and you are forced to make observations on the structure of the cold, dead literature, instead of actually observing the living literature in its natural environment.If this is you, please give it a second chance.The story itself is all in the title: someone comes (back) to town. This town, Egdon Heath (one of the few towns in non-genre literature to be widely considered a character in its own right), and its inhabitants receive Clement "Clym" Yeobright back from Paris.It was Thomas Wolfe to whom we attribute the quote "You can never go home again." This is not to mean "We'll lock up behind you, and post sentries," but rather, as time flows, nothing is truly immutable. When you do come back home, it won't be the same. Some furniture will be moved, everybody will be older, and things will be different.But things that are different aren't always bad. You could meet that nice raven-haired lady everyone thinks is a witch, and end up marrying her. You, thinking about settling down, her, thinking about escaping the malevolent town in which she lives.Such is life, especially life in Edgon Heath.This book is recommended for those who have read and enjoyed other works by Hardy, or who enjoy other literary achievements of the time. Also recommended for rereading anybody who was forced to read it in high school.
A sad but interesting story. The story includes several tragic characters of which several die. Thomas Hardy twines an interesting set of relationships and personalities in the story. He is an excellent author and I highly recommend his writings.
The eloquence and grandeur of Hardy's writing cannot disguise the soap-opera nature of his story. Melodrama and coincidence figure largely, removing the interest from the actions of its intriguing characters.
I read this first in the early 1970s as a set book at school. We had a little joke, inspired by the then UK Prime Minister Edward Heath; we expressed the view, privately amongst ourselves, that 'Egdon Heath' was a character, perhapos the key character in the novel. But we never dared breathe a word of this to our teacher, becausae we were sure we were just being daft.imagine my surprise, years later, in finding that many critics agree with us! Egdon Heath, the setting of this novel, is considered to be a major character, with a brooding poresence throuighout the novel and affecting the actions andf disposition of the muchmore minor, merely human characters.
Oh how I hate this book. I had to study it for English A-level and reading it was torturous. It took me so long, as I kept falling asleep I was so bored.Chapter 1 describes a moor. Chapter 2 describes a man walking across the moor. Chapter 3 describes the man meeting someone on the moor... and so on.The moor is the main character in the book (we concluded at A-level), and while I can spend hours watching the changes on the moors opposite my house I don't really want to spend hours reading about one. I really like Hardy's other novels but I'll only be reading this again if I'm suffering from a prolonged bout of insomnia.
What¿I cannot agree with this novel is most of the important actions in this novel are detemined by the unconfirmed presumptions (by Eustacia, Clym and Mrs Yeobright). No characters in the book or the unconfirmed presumptions (by Eustacia, Clym and Mrs Yeobright). No characters in the book or thE narrator try to rectify this error. This is unacceptable and deprives the basic sympathy narrator try to rectify this error. This is unacceptable and deprives the basic sympathy toward this book from me. On the other hand, I am charmed by the good prose and the right words. In this head, HardThemots just.y is much better than Austin or Forster. I should like to admit that I am rather sympathetic with Wildeve. Although he was not loyal to Eustacia through and through, his indecision was understandable and eventually, he proved to be faithful at heart to Eustacia. That is a comparative feat, and as much as possible for an average man.
The Return of the Native is simply a fictional marvel; moving me as a teenager as much as it did as an adult. Its characters are so rich, yet none so omnipresent and foreboding as the Heath itself, which pervades the lives of all of the book's characters. I don't often give 5stars, but just thinking about this makes me want to read it again.
There's nothing like a heavy dose of dark Hardy to wring a deep sigh from the cheeriest breast.