Tess of the d'Urbervilles, Paperback Book

Tess of the d'Urbervilles Paperback

Edited by Simon Gatrell, Juliet Grindle

Part of the Oxford World's Classics series

3.5 out of 5 (4 ratings)


'She looked absolutely pure. Nature, in her fantastic trickery, had set such a seal of maidenhood upon Tess's countenance that he gazed at her with a stupefied air: "Tess- say it is not true! No, it is not true!"' Young Tess Durbeyfield attempts to restore her family's fortunes by claiming their connection with the aristocratic d'Urbervilles. But Alec d'Urberville is a rich wastrel who seduces her and makes her life miserable. When Tess meets Angel Clare, she is offered true love and happiness, but her past catches up with her and she faces an agonizing moral choice.

Hardy's indictment of society's double standards, and his depiction of Tess as 'a pure woman', caused controversy in his day and has held the imagination of readers ever since.

Hardy thought it his finest novel, and Tess the most deeply felt character he ever created. This unique critical text is taken from the authoritative Clarendon edition, which is based on the manuscript collated with all Hardy's subsequent revisions.

ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 496 pages, two maps
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Classic fiction (pre c 1945)
  • ISBN: 9780199537051

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Showing 1 - 4 of 4 reviews.

Review by

I found Tess to be in the top three of annoying women in fiction. But I did finish the book.

Review by

Poor Tess. I'm ready for the tragedy. I know it's coming. After all it's Thomas Hardy and he doesn't repeat Far From Madding Crow. Yet, with what force you experience Tess' downfall. So many sins committed against her - and no wonder she doesn't want to have anything to do with God after being presented with such a distorted view of Christianity. From the strict hypocritical father of Angel, Alec's insincere conversion - and Angel himself with his judgmental attitude. "Justice was done, and the President of the Immortals had ended his sport with Tess…” Well, I don't know Mr. Hardy.

Review by

Dear Tom,Why do I keep reading your books? No one, and I mean no one, treats his characters (or her characters) as badly as you do. Well, maybe with the exception of Upton Sinclair, who must have been greatly influenced by you.I read Jude the Obscure several years ago and closed the book with a "Never Again." I was sure I could not bear to read another one of your books after somehow finishing it in spite of that awful letter from the kids "Because we are too menny". I can't figure out what your overall point is except that if one is poor, one is destined to be miserable and that is all there is to it. I guessed what Tess would be about just from its title. I've read lots and lots of other 19th century fiction. Many books have treated the issue of women who lose their chastity, as it would have been put at the time. Many books are pretty grim about their fate. However, you manage to make it worse than the norm because your characters are so very sympathetic. As I read on, I know that Tess' life is going to go from bad to worse, that her ridiculous level of nobility will end up undoing her, that all bad things will happen to her. Sure enough, but what else would we expect of you. What is the point, Tom? Why do you write these novels? What do you want your readers to do? Unlike Dickens, you don't seem to be a social reformer. You don't seem to ever paint the slightest possibility of an alternative to all this woe. On the other hand, your respectful-but-not-convinced portrayal of evangelical Christianity doesn't seem to show religion as a way out, either. Were you just trying to convey existentialist despair? Weren't you a little too early for this?I am really giving you up this time. This is it. You have been too cruel on your characters and your readers and this is the last of your novels I plan to read. How could you, Tom? You are too cruel, and I will never forgive you.Yr servant,Anna

Review by

So I think all be all intellectual-like and read a classic of literature rather than my usual fare. And what do I get in return? Rape, misogyny, poverty, domestic abuse and capital punishment. I guess it's no surprise that men were also bastards back in 1891. But I was somewhat taken aback to read all that stuff so starkly. (The exception to the starkness being the rape scene - the Victorian era book was so euphemistic about it that I didn't actually figure out what Alex had done to Tess until several chapters on.)Tess is meant to be the ideal woman according to Hardy's narrator, but her two endearing attributes are that she is good looking, and agrees with everything her lover, Angel, says. The villain, Alex, like many others, spends most of his time thinking he has been wronged. The male hero, Angel is a self-important wimp. Naturally, despite Tess's guiltless life the novel moves inexorably towards her punishment. Man (Angel and Alex) has interfered with nature so Tess must be punished.A good book with odd values, and too much discussion of old English countryside for my antipodean sense to appreciate.

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