Far From the Madding Crowd

Paperback | November 1, 2006

byRandom House Value

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Far From the Madding Crowd is the book that made Thomas Hardy famous, and it is the sunniest and least brooding of his great novels. Bathsheba Everdene and the three men who love her move through a beautifully realized late nineteenth-century agrarian landscape, still almost untouched by the industrial revolution and the encroachment of modern life. Hardy presents the hopes and disappointments of Bathsheba and the three men after her affections: one, a poor sheep farmer, another a respectable farm owner, and the third an army sergeant. Grounded in Victorian romanticism yet paving a path towards realistic literature, Far From the Madding Crowd rightly remains one of the most popular of Hardy's novels.

From the Publisher

Far From the Madding Crowd is the book that made Thomas Hardy famous, and it is the sunniest and least brooding of his great novels. Bathsheba Everdene and the three men who love her move through a beautifully realized late nineteenth-century agrarian landscape, still almost untouched by the industrial revolution and the encroachment o...

Format:PaperbackPublished:November 1, 2006Language:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0307291057

ISBN - 13:9780307291059

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Customer Reviews of Far From the Madding Crowd

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Rated 5 out of 5 by from I wish he had written more!! I was surprised at how easy it was to read, since it was written in 1860 and most literature from that time period has a totally different linguistic style. On that note, I loved how the dialog of the farm hands was written phonetically, reflecting the caste during the time period. Hardy has such a unique plot progression, (as well as in Tess of the Dubervilles) that continues to astound me with his creativity (honestly, who proposes to a woman- who clearly doesn't like him- and then pulls out a shotgun and shoots her "dead" husband?? Who comes up with that?!). I enjoyed the short paragraphs, making it easy for me to stop and start the book on a dime. It was a fast read, he didn't waste time on details or extraneous conversation, everything was incised for a reason.
Date published: 2016-12-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Hardy Paean to Nature, Love, and Literature Reading Hardy in the “age of speed” and “conspicuous consumption” may be an acquired taste, but once acquired it is hard to live without. Let me begin by introducing the heroine of the novel and then give you three reasons for this conclusion. I must admit that what initially spurred me to read Thomas Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd was the new film adaptation (starring Carey Mulligan). Now, having spent the last few weeks in the glorious Weatherbury cabin overlooking the amorous vicissitudes of its heroine Bathsheba Everdene I am terrified that the film will never be able to live up to its literary inspiration. Bathsheba, much like the world she inhabits, is a compound character. She is a little bit like the Biblical Bathsheba (both fall for, or prey to, military malingering types), she has the passion and naiveté of Madame Bovary and Anna Karenina (Wrosnky was a military man too!), and much like Elizabeth Bennett and Jane Eyre she grows (up) to learn that “love which…waters cannot quench, nor the floods drown” may have always been closer to her than she ever imagined. This is not to suggest that Bathsheba is not an original character (or that there are intentional influences at work here). Rather, these affinities only serve to prove the complexity and genuineness of Hardy’s heroine and ipso facto the literary value of the entire project. Anyways, here are my three reason I fell in love with a place Far from the Madding Crowd. Nature: Thoreau’s Walden maybe the closest American analog for the reverence for the raw and the natural Hardy evokes in his novel. But staying in the British Isles, I think it is not too far-fetched to say that what Dickens was to urban London of the 19th century Hardy is to be to the rural Casterbridges and Weatherburys. The fact that both would decry the human cost of industrial progress notwithstanding, the scientific precision, speed, and mechanical-like perfection of the Dickensian plot finds its natural counterpart (and its its antidote) in the simmering and organic ebbs and flows of Hardy’s countryside. Indeed, in the latter’s world of yore plot and characters “move…swell” and mature with the alacrity and rapidity of a country snail or rather young wine – but given sufficient time and space they ripen to become a veritable feast for the senses. Indeed, there are times, as in the following passage (describing spring), when Hardy directly juxtaposes the urban and the rural predictably endowing the latter with the unassuming grace and power over the former: “The vegetable world begins to move and swell and the saps to rise, till in the completest silence of lone gardens and trackless plantations, where everything seems helpless and still after the bond and slavery of frost, there are bustling, strainings, united thrusts, and pulls-all-together, in comparison with which the powerful tugs of cranes and pulleys in a noisy city are but pigmy efforts” This certainly is a delightful David vs. Goliath metaphor, but the most evocative passage, which also perfectly encapsulates the title of the novel, comes in one of the early chapters where Hardy invites his readers to solitarily ponder the majestic beauty of the night sky from a country hilltop: “To persons standing alone on a hill during a clear midnight such as this, the roll of the world eastward is almost palpable…The poetry of motion is a phrase much in use, and to enjoy the epic form of that gratification it is necessary to stand on a hill at a small our of the night, and, having first expanded with a sense of difference from the mass of civilized mankind, who are dreamwrapt and disregardful of all such proceedings at this time, long and quietly watch your stately progress through the stars. After such nocturnal reconnoitre it is hard to get back to earth, and to believe that the consciousness of such majestic speeding is derived from tiny human frame.” There is raw, visceral beauty in this Thoreau-like passage where “the madding crowd” is likened to “the mass of civilized mankind”, but we should note that its aims are as descriptive as they are prescriptive. No, it is not that we should all become farmers, hermits, or Luddites, but to truly appreciate Hardy’s novel – indeed to “suck the marrow out of life”, to use Thoreau’s phrase – it sometimes becomes necessary to be as “uncivilized” as the solitary stargazer in this passage. Love: Thus far I have attempted to give the potential reader a sneak preview of the pastoral beauty Hardy brings to his novel, but what elevates a mere novel to a classic worthy of our investment centuries after its birth is the quality of its plot – in this case, the masterful love narrative. No, I do not intend to give away what must be earned to be appreciated, but I will only say that the readers enamored with the likes of Austen, Bronte, and Dickens or continental writers of the period like Hugo or Dumas shall not be disappointed. Yes, as mentioned before, the natural engines of Hardy’s countryside may take their time to get going, but far from the madding crowd does not mean far from maddingly amorous twists and turns – and Weatherbury, as it turns out, may have as many of these as London or Paris. In fact, with only few chapters remaining the story seems to have distended to an unmanageable size for any satisfying denouement, but Hardy (perhaps himself under time pressure) masterfully resolved all the loose ends and somewhat paradoxically quenched my aesthetic thirst while leaving me wanting more. Literature: The art of style is where Hardy completes his literary hat trick. First of all, what unlike many of the other literary giants mentioned before, he endows his characters with something akin to second consciousness. What I mean is that Hardy (seemingly anticipating the post-modern reckoning with moral dualism) not only refuses to compartmentalize his protagonists as good or bad, but there are times where he dares to bare the darker (uglier) hues of their souls thus humanizing what we, readers longing for patterns and order, would rather continue to see as one-dimensional and therefore specious. It is difficult to give an example of this without giving away the plot, but Hardy himself describes the feelings he endows his characters with as “strange complications of impulses” and “lower instincts of uncharitableness”. Finally, Far from the Madding Crowd is a place pithy phrases and sublime metaphors abound. “Ordinary men take wives because possession is not possible without marriage…ordinary women accepts husbands because marriage is not possible without possession” is just one example of the former; and, “Bathsheba was lonely and miserable now; not lonelier actually than she had been before her marriage; but her loneliness then was to that of the present as the solitude of the mountain is to the solitude of a cave” is, I think, a divine example of the latter. As I read and reread each passage in this wonderful book I realized that to write like this is well-nigh impossible in the 21st century. Computers, internet, social media seem to have crowded our already congested time and space changing both the writers’ and readers’ aesthetic tastes buds. This, I think is OK because change is OK. But in that spirit of change occasional rebooting or rewiring our systems may enable us to delight in things we wouldn’t have thought enjoyable before. Well, Far the Madding Crowd is a perfect place to do just that and I wholeheartedly hope I will see you there.
Date published: 2015-07-05