'I shall do one thing in this life - one thing for certain - that is, love you, and long for you, and keep wanting you till I die.'Gabriel Oak is only one of three suitors for the hand of the beautiful and spirited Bathsheba Everdene. He must compete with the dashing young soldier Sergeant Troy and respectable, middle-aged Farmer Boldwood. And while their fates depend upon the choice Bathsheba makes, she discovers theterrible consequences of an inconstant heart.Far from the Madding Crowd was the first of Hardy's novels to give the name of Wessex to the landscape of south-west England, and the first to gain him widespread popularity as a novelist. Set against the backdrop of the unchanging natural cycle of the year, the story both upholds and questionsrural values with a startlingly modern sensibility. This new edition retains the critical text that restores previously deleted and revised passages.
Far From The Madding Crowd tells the story of Bathsheba Everdene, a beautiful and independent young woman who is sought by three very different suitors. Gabriel Oak is the first man to fall in love with her, and after her rejection he falls upon hard times and is forced to seek work as a shepherd. Of course it is Bathsheba who eventually hires him. Her second suitor is one Farmer Boldwood, a moody and passionate man who is awakened to Bathsheba's charms by a foolish Valentine's Day card she sends him, quite in jest. And the third is a dashing officer, Sergeant Francis Troy, who is as captivating and handsome as he is selfish.
Hardy really takes the time to set up his characters, and they are all very well written. Bathsheba in particular is a fascinating creation. In some ways she is quite a little feminist, having no inducement to the marriage state in the abstract that would tempt her to seize the chance when it is offered her. And after she catches her bailiff stealing, Bathsheba is determined to run her inherited farm herself — an unprecedented act for a woman in that time. But Hardy was something of a misogynist, and often peppers his narrative with derogatory comments about the female sex. One such example is this:
"'It was not exactly the fault of the hut,' she observed in a tone which showed her to be that novelty among women — one who finished a thought before beginning the sentence which was to convey it."
"When women are in a freakish mood, their usual intuition, either from carelessness or inherent defect, seemingly fails to teach them this, and hence it was that Bathsheba was fated to be astonished today."
Everything sensible and strong and intelligent about Bathsheba — and she is all of these things, despite her many faults — is presented as an aberration in her sex. I don't like to judge works by the standards of a different time, but I certainly was occasionally annoyed with this misogyny. Other times, once I understood Hardy was like that, it amused more than offended me.
Hardy's deep cynicism is not just directed toward women. God comes in for a fair share of the blame; Boldwood's disastrous encounters with Troy are called "Heaven's persistent irony" toward him. It is the gargoyles on the church, monstrosities sanctioned by religion, that are responsible for the horrific accident that disfigures Fanny's grave. Because of this mutilation, Troy's half-formed good resolutions produced by Fanny's death are instantly dashed, and the fault laid at Heaven's door:
"To turn about would have been hard enough under the greatest providential encouragement; but to find that Providence, far from helping him into a new course, or showing any wish that he might adopt one, actually jeered his first trembling and critical attempt in that kind, was more than nature could bear."
Apparently it is God's fault for not preventing this accident from occurring, for not helping this near-penitent on his new road. Indeed, it is almost as if God wants Troy to be damned and takes active steps to ensure that it is so. This is classic Hardy.
And yet religion is not portrayed in a uniformly bad light; Gabriel is observed by Bathsheba in the very act of kneeling in prayer, in direct contrast to her agitated and rebellious frame of mind. The reader is left with the idea that this bedtime prayer is a ritual of Gabriel's, and that it has a not inconsiderable share in helping him face his troubles calmly and with dignity. The focus here is on the man, however, and not the God to whom he is praying.
From the first Hardy sets up his characters on a large stage, not so much in their provincial surroundings but by the literary references he uses to describe them. When Gabriel Oak first sees Bathsheba from a distance, he is pictured as "Milton's Satan" watching Eve from a bird's-eye view. When Bathsheba arouses Boldwood's interest, he is compared to Adam awakening from his sleep to behold Eve. Frank Troy is called a "juggler of Satan" by Boldwood, who is then described as "an unhappy Shade in the Mournful Fields by Acheron." Other literary references abound, especially when Hardy describes Gabriel's slow intellectual development and the titles he studies (among them Paradise Lost, Pilgrim's Progress, and Robinson Crusoe). The reader is given to understand that these few titles have a profound effect on Oak and change him from the morally pliable man of the opening chapters to something of a solid rock, dependable and upright in all he does.
Despite the darker themes, Hardy is not all doom and gloom. His sense of humor is most often displayed in the rustic country folk of Wessex, whose mannerisms and foibles are treated with fond indulgence. One character, Joseph Poorgrass, suffers from what he calls "the multiplying eye" — a condition that only assails him in taverns when he's had a bit too much to drink. The relationships among these country folk are also portrayed in a comical light; one instance is the way the worthies of the village try to calm the affronted maltster by agreeing he is the oldest man they know. Young Cainy Ball's breathless recital of what he had seen in Bath is a small masterpiece of comedy, as he chokes and sprays his listeners with crumbs, and is remonstrated for his careless breathing and eating habits. Hilarious!
"'Now, Cainy!' said Gabriel, sternly. 'How many more times must I tell you to keep from running so fast when you be eating? You'll choke yourself some day, that's what you'll do, Cain Ball.'
'Hok-hok-hok!' replied Cain. 'A crumb of my victuals went the wrong way — hok-hok!, That's what 'tis, Mister Oak! And I've been visiting to Bath because I had a felon on my thumb; yes, and I've seen — ahok-hok!'"
In addition to the funny parts, there are some insightful and deftly written passages, like these:
"The suddenness was probably more apparent than real. A coral reef which just comes short of the ocean surface is no more to the horizon than if it had never been begun, and the mere finishing stroke is what often appears to create an event which has long been potentially an accomplished thing."
"A man's body is as the shell; or the tablet, of his soul, as he is reserved or ingenuous, overflowing or self-contained. There was a change in Boldwood's exterior from its former impassibleness; and his faceshowed that he was now living outside his defences for the first time, and with a fearful sense of exposure. It is the usual experience of strong natures when they love."
I listened to this on audiobook published by Tantor Media and read by John Lee. I very much enjoyed his narration, though I did find the lengthy descriptions of nature to drag a bit. Lee's character voices are excellent, with the exception of the female characters; a deep-voiced man just can't create a believably feminine voice.
I don't think I will ever enthusiastically recommend Hardy; he isn't an author whose works can really be loved, at least not by me. But they do have a quality about them that invites contemplation, mainly of the flaws of humankind and the apparently indifferent God reigning over the chaos we make of our lives. It's a different perspective for me, and one that I find deeply unattractive — and yet fascinating, in a grim sort of way. Hardy will never be a comfort read for me, but he does provoke thought, if not exactly admiration.
Gabriel Oak is a young farmer when he first sees Bathsheba Everdene. She is coming to stay with her aunt who is a neighbour of Gabriel's. Gabriel is quite taken by Bathsheba and he asks her to marry him. She declines saying that she has nothing and he is on his way up in the world and should have a wife who would help him achieve his goals. Soon after the tables turn. Gabriel loses everything he has and Bathsheba inherits her uncle's farm near Weatherbury. Fortune brings them together again with Gabriel working for Bathsheba. However, since Gabriel now has no prospects he cannot hope to marry her but he does everything he can to make sure her farm prospers. A neighbouring farmer, Mr. Boldwood, takes notice of Bathsheba and also proposes to her. She doesn't turn him down outright and indicates she might accept his offer in the future. Then along comes Sargeant Troy who grew up in Weatherbury. He is a dashing, good looking soldier and Bathsheba is swept off her feet. She marries Troy but soon regrets her decision. She also regrets how she treated Mr. Boldwood. Troy disappears in circumstances that make it appear he has died. Boldwood again asks Bathsheba to marry him when she is legally able and this time Bathsheba agrees even though she is honest with him that she does not love him. Then Troy reappears while Boldwood is throwing a Christmas party. Boldwoood shoots Troy and kills him. He is sentenced to be hung but after his neighbours petition for clemency his death sentence is commuted to life imprisonment. Oak is finally rewarded for his patient love and support of Bathsheba and they marry.
Hardy's descriptions of the countryside and the farming operations are so vivid that I could picture them exactly. Some of the scenes that really stood out for me were the storm on the night of the harvest celebration and the sheep-shearing scene. Perhaps having grown up on a farm that, although more modern still carried out those essential tasks, made it easier for me. It will be interesting to see if the other members of my book club who, for the most part, are urban raised felt the same way.
My first experience with Hardy came from Tess of the d'Urbervilles, which completely
Bathsheba Everdene is spirited and independent and fiercely determined to be able to run her uncle's farm after firing the stealing bailiff (manager). This was the part of her I most admired. She cared about the farm and her employees, she was resourceful and clever - I hadn't realised that female characters like her popped up in literature from the 1800s. What let me down was her stupidity when it came to men (although I realise without this there may have been no story!)
Gabriel Oak is our other main character in this story, and in him I can find few faults. His loyalty to Bathsheba may be considered a bit extreme but at least he wasn't crazy like Farmer Boldwood. No matter Gabriel's feelings, he put them aside to do his work and to build a friendship with Bathsheba that is perhaps one of my favourite literary friendships. He was the only one who would be completely honest with her and she respected his opinion even if she didn't always like it. What progressed seemed very natural, unlike her romances with Sergeant Troy and poor infatuated Farmer Boldwood, who I felt sorry for but really needed to just let go. He wanted her because he felt he deserved her, he loved her but without taking into account her feelings on the matter. There was no foundation for either of these romances like there was between her and Gabriel.
Hardy writes a great story although some of his description can get a bit tedious, I guess he just liked to set his scene. I really enjoyed the supporting characters in this novel as well as Bathsheba and Gabriel and I think it is a great addition to anyone's library.
In the beginning, I actually laughed out loud a few times. Was it meant to be funny? Hell if I know, but Gabriel Oak is such an awesome character. No matter what happens, he just keeps pushing steady forward in life. Bathsheba Everdene is such a girl. She has three men sniffing around, and of course she picks the looser. And the one semi-holding the #2 spot is a psycho stalker. Then, there's Oak just over there being all normal and moving on up in life while all this drama is going on. Some parts are probably meant to be sad, but I wasn't sadden a bit. I was just waiting to see what craziness these people would come up next. Ahh, good times.
I'll definitely be checking out more Thomas Hardy books in the future.
Bathsheba Everdeen and Gabriel Oak are the two co-protagonists, while Boldwood and Troy seem to be secondary characters that, to me, appear on the scene only to offset Bathsheba's weaknesses. Though Bathsheba is at the center of it all and, for a woman of that era, is certainly a redoubtable personality, Gabriel Oak seems to be the most positive and appealing character out of the four. Hardy dwells on the village life of the area, going into detailed description of nature and the colorful local characters - whose life, though "far from the madding crowd", gets suddenly disrupted by the unpredictable and volatile events. And yet, somehow, for me, neither the plot nor the deliverance of the narrative were at the level of Hardy's two aforementioned novels.
I both listened and read this book - great narration by Nathaniel Parker (the Artemis Fowl narrator) who gives a stellar performance of the quirky rural characters in this book. This is only the 2nd Thomas Hardy that I've read, but I've enjoyed them both. Great author.
Far From the Madding Crowd
This classic starts off in the usual ho-hum way of introducing a main character through a description of his lineage, how he came to be where we find him, and the background of his present occupation. Don't get complacent. Both the fate of the main
Recommended March 2014
After Troy and Bath sheba get married .Troy see that girl again ,but that girl died at the second day ,so Troy very sad ,and fall into river .Every body think he is died .So Bathsheba get married with a middle-aged man Boldwood ,who has never been in love before . .On their wedding ,Troy appears.So Bathsheba does not want get married with Boldwood .It makes Boldwood very angry , and he kills Troy. The result is Troy died and Blodwood go to prison.
At the end, Bathsheba’s love is Dak , only he accompany with she .So they get married
Such a contrast to Tess of the D'Urbervilles. Wouldn't Tess wish she were Bathsheba Everdene? Other than some undisclosed things that happened before the book
A truly amazing book: rich, beautiful writing and a page turner. A big step forward in his writing, I felt. Proud Bathsheba thinks she can outwit love but is floored bu it; her suitors have very different fates from one another and the landscape, the
I studied this for O level but had forgotten the story, although certain rather random scenes and descriptions, such as Gabriel's face and the round hill he stands upon, were very familiar. Truly a privilege and a joy to re-read this book.
The thing is the honest, hard working shepherd; the flighty, beautiful woman; the cad and the bounder; the mentalist top man – they are all sympathetically written and likeable. The supporting cast all have lives of their own and behave normally and both have, and behave in, character. And they have fun. Quite often. Their lives happen whilst the plot unfolds. Not because of the plot, or to make the plot move on. I like these people. And the place. Not that I’d want to live there: Too much cider.
The three tragic episodes – the death of the girl, the accident that puts an end to the shepherds start in life and the murder of the cad and bounder - are all told in such a way as to make you feel the tragedy emotionally, to care, to connect. It is a nicely told tale.
And it has a happy ending. The newly married couple send ‘a bit of something’ down to the pub so the locals can have a piss up. What more could you ask from life?
Its a fable in my opinion that says the 'steady reliable' man will win a fair maidens hand in the long run.
It reads and feels like a penguin classic novel. I can imagine all the 15 yrs old pawing over the language and clever pieces of prose.
Me - well I thought it was ok but I must say that the
Its perfect for those of you who like a clever use of language and lots of smart descriptions. If you like me who are so keen on such things then it can be hard work at times
This is the first Thomas Hardy novel that I have read and I was not sure what to expect. I have read very mixed reviews of his work and I was not sure how I was going to like this book. I have to admit that I liked it a lot more than I thought I would. I think the strongest aspect of this book is the fact that all of the main characters have faults that readers can identify with even to this day. Bathsheba is really a woman before her time, she just wants to make a mark on the world and she is very ambitious and her main fault is her vanity. She is really like almost every woman I know, she just wants to be told that she is beautiful but at the same time she wants to be independent. It is easy to imagine her and identify with her; she really is one of the most honest characters I have read in a long time. Similarly, the three main men who compete for Bathsheba’s attentions all have their faults. Gabriel Oaks is probably the most honest, hardworking, steadfast man in the novel but at the same time he is also a little boring and not super cultured. Mr. Boldwood takes his passion for Bathsheba to desperate levels, and is subject to dark and changing moods. As for Sergeant Troy, he is a rake, scoundrel and at times a cad.
Overall, at times the story could move slowly but I thought that for the most part it flowed well and kept my attention. I will be looking forward to reading later novels by Thomas Hardy to compare with this one.