Tess of the D'Urbervilles, Paperback

Tess of the D'Urbervilles Paperback

Part of the Wordsworth Classics series

3.5 out of 5 (3 ratings)


Introduction and Notes by Michael Irwin, Professor of English Literature, University of Kent at Canterbury.

Set in Hardy's Wessex, Tess is a moving novel of hypocrisy and double standards.

Its challenging sub-title, A Pure Woman, infuriated critics when the book was first published in 1891, and it was condemned as immoral and pessimistic.

It tells of Tess Durbeyfield, the daughter of a poor and dissipated villager, who learns that she may be descended from the ancient family of d'Urbeville.

In her search for respectability her fortunes fluctuate wildly, and the story assumes the proportions of a Greek tragedy.

It explores Tess's relationships with two very different men, her struggle against the social mores of the rural Victorian world which she inhabits and the hypocrisy of the age.

In addressing the double standards of the time, Hardy's masterly evocation of a world which we have lost, provides one of the most compelling stories in the canon of English literature, whose appeal today defies the judgement of Hardy's contemporary critics.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 384 pages, notes, bibliography
  • Publisher: Wordsworth Editions Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Classic fiction (pre c 1945)
  • ISBN: 9781853260056


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Showing 1 - 3 of 3 reviews.

Review by

I felt so sorry for Tess; she simply could not resist so many things, and no one supported her the way they should have. So many bad things happen to her that it's impossible not to feel for her, especially as most of them are not her fault. Her flaw perhaps is in caring too much for others in addition to the cruelties of fate, and this tragically leads to her end. This book is very Victorian in its depiction of women and how they are completely the property of men -- even in their own hearts. Not a modern viewpoint, but fascinating nonetheless.Hardy's writing, as ever, is beautiful and poignant, and to me enjoyable regardless of the tale he tells. Only rated four stars for its sheer depressing nature, but highly worth a read anyway.

Review by

This book came highly recommended by everyone I know who has read it. I had some trouble getting started, and while I can appreciate the artistry of the author and his commitment to creating a world that is practically tangible to the reader, I found myself occasionally skimming across sections, looking for the next bit of action. All the way up to the very end, I could not really see what it was about the book that made all my friends - some o them very hard to please - so interested in this story. Life kept throwing worse and worse turns at Tess and Tess herself is occasionally the only one responsible for how things are. I found myself wanting to shake her and tell her to suck up her pride and just *write* to the man already. But the end really did make the rest worthwhile. After finishing the whole story, the more I thought about it, the more I found myself liking it.

Review by

I'm loathe to give my first read of 2013 a 5/5 but this one definitely comes close! Proper review to follow but for now I must just say that I loved it! 4½/5, maybe! :)

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