Tess of the D'Urbervilles
TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES must be as close to a perfect novel as anyone
has written in English. It is a genuine tragedy with a girl/woman as
tragic hero. It is about life on earth in a way that transcends mere
sociology. It has the grandeur of Milton but concerns itself with the
lives of mortal beings on earth, as much with sex as with dirt, blood,
milk, dung, animal and vegetative energies. It concerns itself with
only essential things the way the Bible does. It is almost a dark
rendering of the Beatitudes.
The story is built with such care and such genius that every
incident, every paragraph, reverberates throughout the whole structure.
Surely Hardy had an angel on his shoulder when he conceived and
composed this work. Yet it was considered so immoral in its time that
he had to bowdlerize his own creation in order to get it published, at
first. Victorian readers were not prepared for the truth of the lives
of ordinary women, or for a great many truths about themselves that