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Tony Grist

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Reading Tess [Jul. 19th, 2014|07:20 pm]
Tony Grist
I'm reading Tess of the D'Urbervilles very slowly. It's a beast of a book and I can't take very much of it at any one time. It's too dreadful.  I know Angel can't help being such a shit but when he accuses Tess of being "an untutored peasant" I want to knock him down and jump up and down on his exquisitely sculpted face.

Quite a few times.

The dreadfulness isn't just because of bad things happening to good people- books are full of that sort of thing and normally I don't turn a hair- but Hardy is just so true.

Angel Clare, ce'st moi.

The truthfulness extends to the smallest details. Hardy's evocations of landscape are wonderful- beautiful but also precise- and go on being beautiful and precise even as his characters suffer.

"Did you say the stars were worlds, Tess?"


"All like ours?"

"I don't know; but I think so. They sometimes seem to be like the apples on our stubbard-tree. Most of them splendid and sound- a few blighted"

"Which do we live on- a splendid one or a blighted one?"

"A blighted one."

[User Picture]From: puddleshark
2014-07-20 12:15 pm (UTC)
I should read Tess again... I can't go on judging it from my memories of reading it at school.

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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-07-20 12:48 pm (UTC)
I don't remember exactly when I first read Tess but I was probably in my teens; whenever it was I was too young.

It's not a book for kids.
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[User Picture]From: kinderheldin
2014-07-20 04:55 pm (UTC)
Young girls I know who have read it have (especially) truly appreciated the novel as discussing/analyzing it has enabled them to articulate the idea that our conditioning plays a major role in the relations between men and women and in the shaping of female identity. Also, they see that "purity" means (for Tess/Hardy) being pure of heart -- and is not a societal construct/mirror.

Indeed, I have known some to throw the book across the room when Angel Clare rejects Tess. He is the one with the tragic flaw!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-07-20 09:17 pm (UTC)
Angel's rejection of Tess is horrific. All that part of the book is very hard to read.
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