Dust off your Classics : Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

February 16, 2015 Book review, Dust off Your Classics 9 DNF

Once upon a time there were two bookworms who wanted to read Classics.  But they were afraid, a little intimidated and needed encouragement so they bonded together to form the Dust off your Classics challenge to support each other.  Dee from Dee Read’s and myself read our way through some good classics, some great classics and found so much in these books that is surprisingly still relevant.  So much so that I want to continue reading them and will continue to share my thoughts here on any I get through.



We’ve decided to do something different with this challenge for the months when we are still reading our classic.  So we are going to be sharing quotes, casting or whatever else just feels right for the book.  And yes I’m STILL reading Tess!

Dust off your Classics : Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas HardyTess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
on 1891
Genres: Classic, Historical Fiction
Pages: 403
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased

'How could I be expected to know? I was a child when I left this house four months ago. Why didn't you tell me there was danger in men-folk? Why didn't you warn me?'

When Tess Durbeyfield is driven by family poverty to claim kinship with the wealthy D'Urbervilles and seek a portion of their family fortune, meeting her 'cousin' Alec proves to be her downfall. A very different man, Angel Clare, seems to offer her love and salvation, but Tess must choose whether to reveal her past or remain silent in the hope of a peaceful future. With its sensitive depiction of the wronged Tess and with its powerful criticism of social convention, Tess of the D'Urbervilles is one of the most moving and poetic of Hardy's novels

Classic Quotes from Tess of the D’Ubervilles:

I won’t lie, it’s a chore and a half and I don’t know if I will finish it.  This makes me sad as I adored the BBC mini-series and if you get a chance to watch that I can’t recommend it enough.  So I already know the story and know just how heart-breaking it all is.  But my issue is with the language. Take this one for example:

“The dialect was on her tongue to some extent, despite the village school; the characteristic intonation of that dialect for this district being the voicing approximately rendered by the syllable UR, probably as rich an utterance as any to be found in human speech.”

Ummmhh, what!  I think it’s just a long winded way of saying she speaks with a touch of dialect.  But it’s hard work having to decipher it all out in my head and makes this a long, slow read for me.  And the parts that aren’t overly wordy are written in dialect so that makes them slower to read too:

“Tisn’t a city, the place I mean; leastwise ‘twaddn’ when I was there – ‘twas alittle one-eyed, blinking sort o’place.”

But there are other quotes that I adore:

“A strong woman who recklessly throws away her strength, she is worse than a weak woman who has never had any strength to throw away”.

And I think this one does a lovely job of explaining how vulnerable Tess is.  Of course I’ve never come across the word ‘untinctured’ before and neither has my spell check but I can guess at the meaning easily enough.

“Tess Durbeyfield at this time of her life was a mere vessel of emotion untinctured by experience.”

But I don’t know.  I’m not really getting anything out of the book apart from a headache so I think I’ll probably abandon and go on the hunt for the box set instead.  I know the story is fab and Tess’s sad life has already stolen my heart but the book is just too much of a struggle for me.


Talk to Trish: Have you read Tess?  Did you enjoy it more than I am?  Would you encourage me to keep going?




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9 Responses to “Dust off your Classics : Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy”

  1. Dee @ Dee's Reads

    Ah I’m sad you aren’t really liking it or seeing yourself getting through it. Can I be honest though?… I heard / figured as much about this book. I guess its maybe true what they say about this book, it’s great but. REALLY hard to get though. Like, War and Peace hard. or something 😀
    So don’t feel bad, I think you’re in good company al to of people liked the story but just couldn’t get through it as the prose is heavy, sticky, and makes you like ugh. (at least, those few quotes definitely had me like WHAT?!? lol. untinctured, I like that word now though hahaha.
    I think you should move onto the next! Who knows, you may decide to come back to this? Remember The Woman in White? well, I put that down (which was the first book I tried for this challenge) and am actually thinking to pick it back up because I want to know what happens. lol. We’ll see though, for now I’m happy with my choice of Rebecca (which I am still reading, not even half way through yet, but I’m enjoying taking my time with it).
    Sucks when you get all in the mood to read a classic hough and then *dud* lol. What are you thinking to read next? I think you should pick something exciting and that a lot of people either love or hate so you’ll at least have something interesting going on 😀
    I love that we are doing this now as part of the challenge. It makes things much more interesting, and since classics DO take so long to read it makes me less guilty that they do, in fact, take me so long hah.
    Dee @ Dee’s Reads recently posted…Dusting Off Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier: Teaser!

  2. Katherine @ I Wish I Lived in a Library

    I remember reading and loving this in high school but I could feel my eyes glazing over with the quotes you posted. I definitely don’t remember that happening! Maybe since I was reading so many more classics I was used to the overly heavy prose? Weird. I’ll definitely have to look for the BBC series. Too bad this hasn’t been a book you’ve loved especially since you’ve so enjoyed the story in other forms.
    Katherine @ I Wish I Lived in a Library recently posted…Ladle to the Grave – Blog Tour Review + Giveaway

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