The Return of the Native
Eustacia Vye despises the heath and the workfolk... [she] embodies the decadence of the bourgeoisie,
who, for want of anything better, glorify the individual.
G. W. Sherman, The Pessimism of Thomas Hardy, 1976
...in spite of the fact that the agonies endured by Hardy's characters are not arbitrarily inflicted by the
gods or Fate or the President of the Immortals, but organically derive from their being the kind of people
they are, still, Hardy intimates, there is immense sorrow in the fact that things are as they are.... Life is
painful, existence is an agony to be endured- to deny that Hardy felt this is to misread him, perversely or
Geoffrey Thurley, The Psychology of Hardy's Novels, 1975
He wrote and wrote again, and he never found it easy. He lacked elegance, he never learned the trick
of the whip-lash phrase, the complicated lariat twirling of the professed stylists....
Katherine Anne Porter, Notes on a Criticism of Thomas Hardy, 1940
In both his novels and his poetry Hardy's thoughts revolve frequently around the comic or tragic irony
of the mischances of the marital relation.... At the root of his polemics are his sense of the injustice of
imposing a permanent bond as the penalty for a passing desire and his knowledge of the numberless
instances in which love has been stifled by obligation.
Samuel Chew, Thomas Hardy, Poet and Novelist, 1929
It is the force of circumstance- the malignant power of Egdon Heath to dwarf and thwart the aspiring
soul- that drives Eustacia Vye to irretrievable disaster. It is circumstance too that involves her husband in
the same calamity, for he can hardly be held more fortunate in escaping with his life. His mother falls
beneath a stroke of fortune utterly undeserved.
J. W. Cunliffe, English Literature During the Last Half-Century, 1923
[Hardy's] creative power shows itself most continuously and most characteristically in its capacity to
embody its inspiration in visible form. Before he does anything else, Hardy wants to make you see with
your mind's eye the action of the tale he is telling. Indeed, his creative impulse seems to have instinctively
expressed itself in picture.
David Cecil, Hardy the Novelist, 1946
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[The Return of the Native Contents]
Butler, Lance St. John, ed. Thomas Hardy After Fifty Years. Totowa (NJ): Rowan and Littlefield,
1977. New interpretations of Hardy's fiction and poetry by well-known poets and academics.
Cox, R. G., ed. Thomas Hardy, The Critical Heritage. New York: Barnes & Noble, 1970. A
large, important selection of reviews and critical comment written in Hardy's own time, 1871-1914.
Drabble, Margaret, ed. The Genius of Thomas Hardy. New York: Alfred Knopf, 1976. An illustrated
collection of beautifully written essays by famous writers of today.
Guerard, Albert J., ed. Hardy, A Collection of Critical Essays. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall,
1963. An important collection of essays, including pieces by D. H. Lawrence and W. H. Auden.
Howe, Irving. Thomas Hardy. New York: Macmillan, 1968. A significant critical study focusing on
Hardy's formative years and his philosophical skepticism.
Kramer, Dale, ed. Critical Approaches to the Fiction of Thomas Hardy. New York: Barnes &
Noble, 1979. A wide variety of critical approaches in sophisticated essays by contemporary academics.
Modern Fiction Studies. Thomas Hardy issue, VI. Fall, 1960. An issue devoted entirely to the ideas
and work of Thomas Hardy.
Page, Norman, ed. Thomas Hardy, The Writer and his Background. New York: St. Martin's, 1980. A
collection of essays by contemporary scholars that explores Hardy's intellectual and historical
Smith, Anne, ed. The Novels of Thomas Hardy. New York: Barnes & Noble, 1979. Essays by
scholars who have discovered new ways of reading and understanding Hardy's work.
The Southern Review. Thomas Hardy Centennial Issue, VI (Summer, 1940). Essays by poets and
critics attesting to Hardy's influence on writing of the 20th century.
Sumner, Rosemary. Thomas Hardy: Psychological Novelist. New York: St. Martin's, 1981. An
exploration of Hardy's understanding of unconscious drives, with a chapter on "The Return of the
Native- the psychological problems of modern man and woman."
AUTHOR'S OTHER WORKS (A SELECTION)
Under the Greenwood Tree, 1872. A gentle, humorous tale of a village love affair that, after many
misunderstandings, ends happily.
Far From the Madding Crowd, 1874. A realistic story about how one woman finally finds her true
love after a bad marriage.
The Mayor of Casterbridge, 1886. The tale of how a poor but ambitious man rises to great heights
only to be destroyed by flaws in his character.
The Woodlanders, 1887. A neglected novel about an ill-starred romantic triangle, strangely mixing
happiness and tragedy.
Wessex Tales, 1888. A collection of short stories using Wessex legends and folk traditions.
Tess of the D'Urbervilles, 1891. The popular classic about a young girl driven to murder when her
life is ruined by forces beyond her control.
Jude the Obscure, 1896. A gloomy, brooding story of a young man and his unconventional love life,
ending in failure and early death.
Selected Shorter Poems of Thomas Hardy. John Wain, ed. St. Martin's Press, New York, 1966. A few
of Hardy's short poems, including selections from Wessex Poems and Poems of the Past and Present.
A STEP BEYOND
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