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Introduction and Notes by Michael Irwin, Professor of English Literature, University of Kent at Canterbury. Set in Hardy's Wessex, Tess is a moving novel of hypocrisy and double standards. Its challenging sub-title, A Pure Woman, infuriated critics when the book was first published in 1891, and it was condemned as immoral and pessimistic. It tells of Tess Durbeyfield, the daughter of a poor and dissipated villager, who learns that she may be descended from the ancient family of d'Urbeville. In her search for respectability her fortunes fluctuate wildly, and the story assumes the proportions of a Greek tragedy. It explores Tess's relationships with two very different men, her struggle against the social mores of the rural Victorian world which she inhabits and the hypocrisy of the age. In addressing the double standards of the time, Hardy's masterly evocation of a world which we have lost, provides one of the most compelling stories in the canon of English literature, whose appeal today defies the judgement of Hardy's contemporary critics.
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Hardy's classic 1891 novel, about a young woman's attempt at redemption following a scandal, demonstrates his fatalistic view regarding free will. Audie Award winner Simon Vance's reading is straightforward, well paced, and clear, even when the characters speak in West Country dialect. This is an excellent choice for public libraries wanting to boost their classics collections, and the accompanying full-text PDF ebook (which can be played in tandem with the MP3 recording) makes it useful also for high school and academic libraries. [Audio clip available through www.tantor.com; alternate recordings recently available from Blackstone Audio (12 CDs. unabridged. 2008. ISBN 978-1-4332-1499-8. $110; 1 MP3-CD. ISBN 978-1-4332-1500-1. $44.95) and Naxos AudioBooks (14 CDs. unabridged. 2008. ISBN 978-962-634-867-3. $89.98).--Ed.]--Nann Blaine Hilyard, Zion-Benton P.L., Zion, IL Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

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