Saturday, July 2, 2016

Review: Tess of the D'Urbervilles

Tess of the D'UrbervillesTess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It is often said that Jude the Obscure is Thomas Hardy's crowning achievement, with Tess of the D'Urbervilles being a close second. But I would like to switch the two since I don't think Jude the Obscure can touch the level of depth and complexity depicted in this book. Tess, when compared to Jude, is a much more likeable character, and in that, her tragedy is much more acutely felt than that of Jude's. By the end of this book, I was furious by the chain of events that occurred. I can't say I had the same level of emotion after finishing Jude. It was a well told story with an overall message, but it didn't bridge those messages together the way Tess does. This is probably the deepest and richest book I've ever read. No question.

That said, there are some truly wonky sections in the story where you really have to suspend your sense of belief. But the commentary following the version I read really goes into depth about how even those sections have value and actually expand the ideas of this story, which is ultimately about rape, both of the land, and in a physical sense. It's the kind of novel that could take up an entire semester studying. I don't read books more than once, but I may come back to this one in a later period of my life. It's definitely going on the book shelf.

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