The Return of the Native (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

The Return of the Native (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)


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The Return of the Native, by Thomas Hardy, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:
  • New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars
  • Biographies of the authors
  • Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events
  • Footnotes and endnotes
  • Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work
  • Comments by other famous authors
  • Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations
  • Bibliographies for further reading
  • Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate
All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.

A haunting tale of romantic self-deception, The Return of the Native focuses on mismatched lovers who see in each other only what they want to see, and decidedly not what is actually there.

Clym Yeobright, the native of the title, returns to Hardy’s fictional Egdon Heath determined to be a force for social progress. Dazzled by the beauty of Eustacia Vye, he imagines they’re soul mates, woos and wins her, and enters into what is at first a passionate marriage. He soon discovers that what she really wants is a passport to a more exciting and sophisticated life, away from provincial England. Surrounding them are Clym’s mother, strongly opposed to his marriage; Damon Wildeve, in love with Eustacia but married to Clym’s cousin, Thomasin; and the oddly ambiguous observer Diggory Venn, whose frustrated love for Thomasin turns him into either a guardian angel or a jealous manipulator—or perhaps both. This stew of curdled love and conflicting emotions can only boil over into tragedy, and the book’s darkly ironic ending marks it as both a classically Victorian novel and a forerunner of the modernist fiction that followed it.

Lauren Walsh teaches a writing seminar at Columbia University, where she is completing her Ph.D. in English and Comparative Literature.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781593082208
Publisher: Barnes & Noble
Publication date: 07/01/2005
Series: Barnes & Noble Classics Series
Pages: 464
Sales rank: 47,053
Product dimensions: 7.88(w) x 5.30(h) x 1.26(d)

About the Author

An English Victorian author of novels, poems, and short stories, Thomas Hardy (1840-1928) is best known for the classic books Far from the Madding Crowd, The Mayor of Casterbridge, Tess of the d'Urbervilles, and Jude the Obscure. Set mostly in the semi-imagined region of Wessex, Hardy’s fictional works retain their popularity thanks to an accessible style, Romantic plots, and richly drawn characters.

Date of Birth:

June 2, 1840

Date of Death:

January 11, 1928

Place of Birth:

Higher Brockhampon, Dorset, England

Place of Death:

Max Gate, Dorchester, England


Served as apprentice to architect James Hicks

Read an Excerpt

From Lauren Walsh’s Introduction to The Return of the Native

Who is Eustacia Vye? The question is more loaded than it seems at first, for Hardy changed his vision of her partway through creation of the novel. Although the distinctions between the 1878, 1895, and 1912 editions were minor at best, Hardy did significantly rework the course of the narrative in 1877 (at which point in time fifteen to sixteen chapters had been written), after an initial submission to Cornhill Magazine provoked a letter from Leslie Stephen, the magazine’s editor. Stephen “feared that the relations between Eustacia, Wildeve, and Thomasin might develop into something ‘dangerous’ for a family magazine”2 (Maitland, The Life and Letters of Leslie Stephen, p. 276). Eustacia began as a character named Avice (easy to read as “a vice”), who was sinister to the utmost. She was, in fact, indisputably witch-like, if not a witch outright. John Paterson in his excellent piece, “The Making of The Return of the Native,” explores in detail this transformation of Eustacia, comparing the original manuscript to the version submitted for print. “In her initial appearance, indeed,” he writes, “she was to have suggested a satanic creature supernatural in origin” (p. 17). This is a far cry from the romantic individual one meets in any of The Return’s published versions. Yet while the overt diabolical tendencies have fallen away, there still remain ominous attributes and allusions.

Indeed, Eustacia’s most striking epithet in the novel might be the reference to her as the “Queen of Night.” She both walks the nighttime heath and metaphorically embodies a “darkness” that predates the Christian culture of the Egdon peasantry. She appears initially as a regal silhouette standing upon the barrow as twilight sets along the heath. This fuses her from the first with a Celtic pagan history and with associations of death, the barrow being an ancient burial site. Behind those “Pagan eyes, full of nocturnal mysteries” lies a soul with a sometimes demoniacal nature. She is, of course, rumored by Susan Nunsuch to be a witch, but that charge never rises much above petty gossip. Yet as much as Hardy discredits Susan, he craftily presents to us a witch-like Eustacia nonetheless. On the opening night of the novel, she “conjures” Wildeve, metaphorically transforming him from a frog into a man. She beckons him to her fire, comparing herself to the Witch of Endor: “‘I determined you should come; and you have come! I have shown my power’.” This scene, it should be noted, presages its later, more fatalistically determined repetition: Wildeve, signaling to Eustacia, releases a moth, which incinerates itself in her candle flame. Such uncanny, occult recurrences are woven throughout the text, never overt enough to convict Eustacia of witchery nor ever rationalized enough to render her innocent.

This beauty who possesses a “true Tartarean dignity,” whose flowing hair “a whole winter did not contain darkness enough to form its shadow,” is shrouded in language of opacity, not only in her remnant diabolical associations, but also in her unreadability. As a being of contradiction, her “night-side of sentiment” speaks as much to the “witchly” as to the pitiable. Indeed, her associations with the mournful night and with elements of morbidity are also clear indications of her role as a tragic figure. She is helplessly and hopelessly trapped on Egdon Heath, and referring to her inability to tolerate this land, she naively utters her own ominous fate when she states, “I cannot endure the heath.” To be sure, she cannot, and the heath will eventually kill her.

More than anything, Eustacia desires to move away from this place. Bovary-like in her wants and demands, she has sculpted a fantasy world to which she aches to belong. She attaches the highest values to Paris, “the centre and vortex of the fashionable world”; she imagines that city as the epitome of freedom and happiness. When the cosmopolitan Clym returns from France’s capital, Eustacia drops Wildeve for her new and (temporarily) unswerving goal: “She had come out to see a man who might possibly have the power to deliver her soul from a most deadly oppression. What was Wildeve? Interesting, but inadequate. Perhaps she would see a sufficient hero [Clym] tonight.” She will, so she believes, affix herself to this worldly traveler and finally find her way out of the heath.

It is this self-serving and changeable nature that has motivated many critics to view Eustacia as petulant and adolescent. Seemingly setting out to achieve tragic status, she pines for an inconstant lover: “‘I should hate it to be all smooth. Indeed, I think I like you [Wildeve] to desert me a little once now and then. Love is the dismallest thing where the lover is quite honest.’” But more than she desires such vicissitudes, she pines for an adequate lover at all: “‘[Wildeve] does not suffice for my desire! . . . And I have no money to go alone! And if I could, what comfort to me? I must drag on next year, as I have dragged on this year, and the year after that as before. How I have tried and tried to be a splendid woman, and how destiny has been against me! . . . I do not deserve my lot!’” And while the emotions are probably genuine for this young woman of unfulfilled passions, one cannot help but note the whiny tone of self-absorption with which she views herself and her situation. She is inexperienced and selfish, and her childish side comes to the fore at times such as these.

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The Return of the Native 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 58 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
First of all, I just have to say...WHOA! What a deep, intriguing novel! Loved it all the way. Anyways, let's get to the review part. This novel is, for the most part, a tale of love distorted. The story pivots around five central characters. Eustacia Vye (a sexy, flirtatious muse lusting for vibrant city-life), Clym Yeobright (an intelligent young man who returns from Paris to relax in his native town, and weds the gorgeous Eustacia), Diggory Venn (the shy, shadowman of the novel, obsessively in love with Thomasin, he becomes her guardian angel in a sense that he refuses to allow any harm to come to her), Thomasin (Clym's cousin, who is delicate and innocent and mistakingly weds Damon), and Damon Wildeve (basically a 'player' who impulsively weds Thomasin when it appears that his passionate affair with Eustacia has fizzled). At last, all of these emotions boil over and result in a dynamic climax goading us towards a subtle, relieving ending. This book was embroidered with human sentiment and stenciled in sheer love. Can one ever tell where the heart truly leads? I don't know...but this book certainly opens up some doors.
mdee63 More than 1 year ago
I couldn't stop thinking about the characters after reading the book. Read to stimulate the brain. I enjoyed it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book has one of the most brilliant tragic heroines of all time. It is beautifully written and every detail is meaningful. Read it for sure!
Guest More than 1 year ago
In my senior year of high school, I was made to read this novel. I was reluctant at first but I did not have to read very far before I was completely immersed in the plot. I could not put it down and then I wanted to read it again when I was done. It is a tragic love story, but it is not as cliche as Romeo and Juliet has become and is more unpredictable. My favorite book of all time!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I actually purchased this on CD for the sole reason that it was narrated by Alan Rickman. He has a marvelous voice. I didn't know much about the story but was drawn in by his portrayal of the many characters in the story. The voices he uses for each character are unique and I knew which character he was speaking as when listening to the story. The first chapter, might put people off as it describes Egdon Heath in great detail. I listened to it twice as it was confusing. Once the human characters entered the scene, it just drew me in. Hardy writes with much detail in this story. I felt I knew and understood the characters and miss them now that the story has concluded. I would hope that Alan Rickman reads another book - makes it all the better!
Guest More than 1 year ago
You'd expect Hardy to be something English students have to suffer through, but I thoroughly enjoyed this one. A pleasant surprise. Eustacia and Clym are far from the stereotypical repressed Englishfolk. I actually related to this and it was surprisingly suspenseful!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I enjoy many of the works by Hardy but this one I am indifferent to. The beginning was not as easy read and boring at times. The actual story line was very interesting and the ending an utter dissapointment. The ending seemed to cliche frmo any other romantic tragedy. Through it all I enjoy Hardy's writing style and focus on character development along descriptions on pretty much everything.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've always admired Thomas Hardy's work. This book has a plot that is very well developed. Like most the books, the beginning is hard to get through. But I liked the ending very much.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Hardy's masterpiece is perhaps the best description in a novel in English litterature. With the vivid image of the heath coupled with the absorbing plot, and characters whom excite, facinate and annoy (in the case of Clym) Rotn certainly is a timeless classic.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i personaly thought that the book contained a very interesting plot. the whol ei dea of the woman that wishes to leave and not capable f leaving. she needs a man to help her but in everyway she would find one. even if she has to marry him.
Anonymous 8 months ago
This Barnes and Noble edition has a publishing error in it: the endnotes, inspired by, comments and questions, and 'for further reading' are all about The Bostonians by Henry James. Obviously an error at the publishing company. I can only assume that if I order The Bostonians, I will receive the endnotes, etc. for Return of the Native? Please correct future editiions.
wrmjr66 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This novel has all the hallmarks of a classic Hardy novel: doomed love affairs, characters who make poor choices, a portentous environment. Added together, though, it falls a bit short of Hardy's best novels. I think the main problem is that all the characters are either uninteresting or ambiguous at best. Eustacia is probably the most interesting character as the love interest to the "Native" of the title, but she is still one-sided; all she wants is to get out of the heath and live a glamorous life in Paris. Of course, such aspirations are doomed from the outset in Hardy, and her dashed dream is the cornerstone that brings down all the others. Despite its weaknesses, its typical Hardian (Hardy-esque?) strengths make it a worthwhile read.
MaowangVater on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Egdon Heath is a sparsely settled wilderness in the southwest of England. It¿s dominated by the wind, the sky and the feral vegetation of fern and furze. It is, as the author introduces it in the first chapter, ¿a face on which time has made but little impression.¿ To its native inhabitants it¿s a quiet county refuge from the bustle and commotion of the mid-nineteenth century, but to young Eustacia Vye it¿s a wilderness of exile from civilized life from which she has little hope of escape. Damon Wildeve, her former boyfriend and owner of the local inn is about to marry Tamsin Yeobright, a pleasing and innocent girl from a good family, and Eustacia is suffering bitter pangs of envy and jealousy. Damon wasn¿t all that much of a catch, but emotional entanglement with him was her only source of relief from the tedium of county life. And then she hears that Tamsin¿s cousin is coming for a visit. He¿s a clever and promising young man, a diamond trader who lives in Paris ¿ Paris the heart of civilization, culture and beauty. But how will she manage a visit to the home of her rival? Eustacia begins to scheme. The characters carry their passions, pride and false assumptions about the motives of their fellows with them as they criss-cross the heath, but ultimately human plans are overwhelmed by the geographies of heath, history, and social convention. But in this reading is of the final, 1912, edition of the novel, only one is able to fulfill his desire. Architect turned novelist Hardy constructs from a realistic masterpiece of beautiful and brooding tragedy. And for the listener, the combination of Hardy¿s prose and Rickman¿s voice is a rich and sensual delight.
eleanor_eader on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Eustacia Vye lives with her grandfather on Hardy¿s famous Egdon Heath, suffering its loneliness by waiting for rescue in a state of undirected passion. At first attracted to the unavailability of the formerly attentive Wildeve, she next clings to the arrival of Clym Yeobright, who falls in love with and marries her; but her notion of rescue involves leaving the heath far behind, and Clym means to stay; and, as this is Thomas Hardy, events tend tragedy-wards.It took me an inordinately long to time to get around to listening to this; my lassitude was caused in part by being bitten by Tess of the D¿Urbervilles at an early age, and in part by not being sure whether I¿d want to read along, or just listen (I don¿t often `read¿ by audiobook, and the experience wasn¿t something I imagined I¿d enjoy without a book in hand as well). As it turns out, all one can do is listen; Alan Rickman¿s voice is tyrannical in its insistence on absolute devotion of attention.I was hooked from word one¿ what rapturously bleak descriptions of the heath-land Hardy embarks upon, and my own inner voice would have done it scant justice; if the entire book had simply been Mr. Rickman vocalising Hardy¿s lyrical rural scenic creation, I wouldn¿t have cared, even though once he began to bring the voices of characters alive I was captured anew. Then the plot begins to emerge, people move about and Mr. Rickman slips gracefully into the background and lets the story do its work... the story is a grand mixture of the unfortunate, the desperate, the hysterical, the passive and the hopeful that I have met in Hardy¿s other works; his plots, while readable, are secondary to the description, as with no other writer but each of the characters in The Return of the Native inspire pity and interest in the listener.I have no idea if the experience of simply reading The Return of the Native would have moved me to a five-star rating; I only know that this edition of the book, with its sublime marriage of writing and reading, has absolutely captivated me for hours on end.
lit_chick on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
2007, BBC Audiobooks, Read by Alan RickmanThe Return of the Native, set exclusively on Egdon Heath, opens with reddleman Diggory Venn transporting home a naïve, disgraced Thomasin Yeobright, who was to have married innkeeper Damon Wildeve, earlier in the day. Wildeve, we soon learn, is preoccupied with the novel¿s heroine, Eustasia Vye, undoubtedly one of literature¿s great characters. Eustasia is intelligent, devious, passionate, and a manipulative object of desire ¿ I did not find her likeable, but she was completely enthralling. Believing herself superior, she detests life on the Heath, and in this vein, she sets out in self-serving pursuit of Clym Yeobright, the ¿native,¿ who has just returned to Egdon from Paris, where he has been living a prosperous life as a diamond merchant. Twists of fate thwart even the best laid plans, of course, and the characters are inexorably entwined in complex relationships which Eustacia¿s ambition has set in motion.Hardy¿s language is beautifully mellifluous; the novel¿s narrative is richly layered, read in many voices. Themes include the celebration of the pagan, the primitive, and the pastoral. Hardy glorifies the simplicity of life for the working classes and celebrates the pastoral for its superiority. Egdon Heath is a character in its own right; Clym experiences perfect harmony with nature when he goes to work cutting furze:¿Bees hummed around his ears with an intimate air, and tugged at the heath and furze-flowers at his side in such numbers as to weigh them down to the sod. The strange amber-coloured butterflies which Egdon produced, and which were never seen elsewhere, quivered in the breath of his lips, alighted upon his bowed back, and sported with the glittering point of his hook as he flourished it up and down. Tribes of emerald-green grasshoppers leaped over his feet, falling awkwardly on their backs, heads, or hips, like unskillful acrobats, as chance might rule; or engaged themselves in noisy flirtations under the fern-fronds with silent ones of homely hue. Huge flies, ignorant of larders and wire-netting, and quite in a savage state, buzzed about him without knowing that he was a man. In and out of the fern-dells snakes glided in their most brilliant blue and yellow guise, it being the season immediately following the shedding of their old skins, when their colours are brightest. Litters of young rabbits came out from their forms to sun themselves upon hillocks, the hot beams blazing through the delicate tissue of each thin-fleshed ear, and firing it to a blood-red transparency in which the veins could be seen.¿ (Bk 4, Ch 2)The Return of the Native is timeless, the mark of a true classic for me. I cannot say enough about Alan Rickman¿s accomplishment as narrator. Sublime! Highly recommended.
mritchie56 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Hardy's wife has been quoted as saying that, for all the memorable female characters he created, Hardy knew nothing about real women. I can believe that. Though I enjoyed this book, it plays out like a variation on Far From the Madding Crowd, with another woman, Eustacia Vye, who suffers and causes others to suffer, yet doesn't seem to act in a psychologically consistent or realistic way. As in Madding Crowd, the most sympathetic character gets some happiness in the end, but no one else does. Physical descriptions are gorgeous.
RicDay on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I think this is the best of Hardy's novels. Dark, complicated, with characters who make difficult and not often happy decisions. Eustacia Vye is especially well drawn. Worth reading more than once.
aethercowboy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Return of the Native is one of those books you're forced to read in high school. And as such, you're prone to hate it, because high school English teachers make you dissect the creature of literature before you actually get a chance to observe it in action, and you are forced to make observations on the structure of the cold, dead literature, instead of actually observing the living literature in its natural environment.If this is you, please give it a second chance.The story itself is all in the title: someone comes (back) to town. This town, Egdon Heath (one of the few towns in non-genre literature to be widely considered a character in its own right), and its inhabitants receive Clement "Clym" Yeobright back from Paris.It was Thomas Wolfe to whom we attribute the quote "You can never go home again." This is not to mean "We'll lock up behind you, and post sentries," but rather, as time flows, nothing is truly immutable. When you do come back home, it won't be the same. Some furniture will be moved, everybody will be older, and things will be different.But things that are different aren't always bad. You could meet that nice raven-haired lady everyone thinks is a witch, and end up marrying her. You, thinking about settling down, her, thinking about escaping the malevolent town in which she lives.Such is life, especially life in Edgon Heath.This book is recommended for those who have read and enjoyed other works by Hardy, or who enjoy other literary achievements of the time. Also recommended for rereading anybody who was forced to read it in high school.
GlennBell on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A sad but interesting story. The story includes several tragic characters of which several die. Thomas Hardy twines an interesting set of relationships and personalities in the story. He is an excellent author and I highly recommend his writings.
Audacity88 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The eloquence and grandeur of Hardy's writing cannot disguise the soap-opera nature of his story. Melodrama and coincidence figure largely, removing the interest from the actions of its intriguing characters.
RobertDay on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read this first in the early 1970s as a set book at school. We had a little joke, inspired by the then UK Prime Minister Edward Heath; we expressed the view, privately amongst ourselves, that 'Egdon Heath' was a character, perhapos the key character in the novel. But we never dared breathe a word of this to our teacher, becausae we were sure we were just being daft.imagine my surprise, years later, in finding that many critics agree with us! Egdon Heath, the setting of this novel, is considered to be a major character, with a brooding poresence throuighout the novel and affecting the actions andf disposition of the muchmore minor, merely human characters.
bilblio on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Oh how I hate this book. I had to study it for English A-level and reading it was torturous. It took me so long, as I kept falling asleep I was so bored.Chapter 1 describes a moor. Chapter 2 describes a man walking across the moor. Chapter 3 describes the man meeting someone on the moor... and so on.The moor is the main character in the book (we concluded at A-level), and while I can spend hours watching the changes on the moors opposite my house I don't really want to spend hours reading about one. I really like Hardy's other novels but I'll only be reading this again if I'm suffering from a prolonged bout of insomnia.
branful on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What¿I cannot agree with this novel is most of the important actions in this novel are detemined by the unconfirmed presumptions (by Eustacia, Clym and Mrs Yeobright). No characters in the book or the unconfirmed presumptions (by Eustacia, Clym and Mrs Yeobright). No characters in the book or thE narrator try to rectify this error. This is unacceptable and deprives the basic sympathy narrator try to rectify this error. This is unacceptable and deprives the basic sympathy toward this book from me. On the other hand, I am charmed by the good prose and the right words. In this head, HardThemots just.y is much better than Austin or Forster. I should like to admit that I am rather sympathetic with Wildeve. Although he was not loyal to Eustacia through and through, his indecision was understandable and eventually, he proved to be faithful at heart to Eustacia. That is a comparative feat, and as much as possible for an average man.
JediJane on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Return of the Native is simply a fictional marvel; moving me as a teenager as much as it did as an adult. Its characters are so rich, yet none so omnipresent and foreboding as the Heath itself, which pervades the lives of all of the book's characters. I don't often give 5stars, but just thinking about this makes me want to read it again.
wenestvedt on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
There's nothing like a heavy dose of dark Hardy to wring a deep sigh from the cheeriest breast.