Thomas Hardy's Tess of the D'Ubervilles

Thomas Hardy's Tess of the D'Ubervilles
Format: Paperback / softback, 136 Pages
ISBN: 9781907776090
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Few novels have caused more of a stir than Tess of the d’Urbervilles. In England, the Duchess of Abercorn stated that she divided her dinner-guests according to their view of Tess. If they deemed her “a little harlot”, she put them in one group; if they said “Poor wronged innocent!”, she put them in another. It is a telling illustration of the novel’s word-of-mouth success. The Daily News wittily claimed that “pessimism (we had almost said Tessimism) is popular and fashionable”. Fan-mail arrived: Hardy said that his mail from readers even included confessional letters from various wives who, like Tess, had gained premarital sexual experience but, unlike her, had not told their husbands of it. Hardy’s fame was now so great that he was a frequent guest at fashionable dinner parties. In 1892 he recorded that Tess’s fame had spread round the world and that translations were multiplying, “its publication in Russia exciting great interest”. Controversy generated publicity. Publicity generated prosperity. Sales of Tess far surpassed those of any of Hardy’s previous works, and between 1900 and 1930 was reprinted “some forty times in England alone”.  In addition to making Hardy famous and rich, the scandalous Tess attracted, and has continued to attract, an extraordinary range of critical opinion. Victorian reviewers, humanists, neo-Marxists, deconstructionists, cultural materialists, new historicists: everyone has had something to say about the novel. This book, drawing on the best of these critics, shows why, for all its faults, it has such power, and explains the angry and uncompromising vision of the world contained within its pages.

The author

Cedric Watts, after service in the Royal Navy, read English at Cambridge University, taking his BA (Class 1), MA and Ph.D. there. He has taught at Sussex University for many years, and is currently Emeritus Professor of English. His publications include poetry, fiction, and 18 critical and scholarly books, notably Thomas Hardy: 'Jude the Obscure' (in the Penguin Critical Studies series), Literature and Money, A Preface to Conrad, The Deceptive Text, A Preface to Greene, Cunninghame Graham: A Critical Biography (with Laurence Davies) and Henry V, War Criminal? and Other Shakespeare Puzzles (with John Sutherland). He has edited 34 volumes of material by Shakespeare, Conrad, Cunninghame Graham, Thomas Hardy and others. Edward Said praised Watts as "a man for whom the enjoyment and enrichment of friends and students are the main considerations in what he does".

Jolyon Connell is the founder and editorial director of The Week and Money Week. A former Washington Correspondent of The Sunday Times, and deputy editor of The Sunday Telegraph, he has a first-class degree in English from the University of St Andrews and an honorary doctorate from the same university.

Reader reviews


Format: Paperback / softback, 136 Pages
ISBN: 9781907776090
Illustrations: 4 B&W, 4 Colour
Size: 4.3 in x 6.9 in / 109.22 mm x 175.26 mm