An instant best-seller, Tess of the d'Urbervilles has become a cultural icon. It also engendered fierce controversy when Hardy famously defended Tess as a 'pure woman' in the first volume edition. Current arguments about Hardy's relationship with his heroine and her rural world have ensured that this text remains a centre of ideological debate. In this rich and complex novel, Hardy's daring treatment of the fallen woman issue reaches a profound depth of tragic intensity. And he sets his powerful critique of Victorian society in a 'Wessex' landscape that is incomparably evoked. In this Readers' Guide, Geoffrey Harvey selects extracts from the most significant, and often brilliant, essays among the huge body of critical writing that Tess of the d'Urbervilles has attracted. He focuses on important textual issues unique to this novel, and contextualises areas of recurrent debate.
Beginning with the sharply conflicting responses of contemporary reviewers in the 1890s, this Guide traces the evolution of Tess criticism up to the most recent work of the 1990s, encompassing the major developments in literary theory - among them humanist formalism, New Criticism, psychoanalysis, deconstruction, political criticism and feminist theory. This Guide is designed to afford essential support for the study of one of Hardy's finest and most challenging novels.
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan