The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy


The central figure of this novel is the returning “native”, Clym Yeobright, and his love for the beautiful but capricious Eustacia Vye. As character after character is driven to self-destruction, the presence of Egdon Heath becomes all-embracing, while Clym becomes a preacher.

Synopsis taken from back cover

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  1. richardbbc

     /  April 23, 2010

    I thoroughly enjoyed The Return of the Native. It struck me as being a self-help book for those afflicted with ‘Twists of Fate’. Have an attitude to the world similar to Diggory Venn and Thomasin and you will get married and have lots of children. Aspire to being upwardly mobile, like Eustacia, or a modern man like Clym and all kinds of tragic and doleful disasters will befall you. I thought Hardy laid the tragic consequences on a bit thick at times though. But at least the characters weren’t half so much aware as we were of every link in the chain of cause and effect that controlled their lives. The ‘country folk’ were the highlight of the novel for me though. Perceptive, blunt in their conversation and above all funny, their supportive and integrated community life put into sharp relief the isolation of the main characters cast adrift in the empty spaces of the Heath. I could also forgive Hardy’s often plodding and didactic prose for the wonderful sweep of action from Diggory’s van coming down the road to when Eustacia finally goes to bed that opens the novel.

  2. michelebbc

     /  April 15, 2010

    I re-read this book recently for our classics meeting and am also now listening to it on audio. I found that I had gained a new perspecitve and shifted my sympathies away from Eustacia Vie to the other characters such as the Diggory Venn and Clym Yoebright.
    The initial descriptive chapter is very difficult to get through for todays reader, but I am finding that some of the descriptions of the heath are wonderful to listen to when the book is read out loud and I am much more appreciative of it.
    I think there is a lot more meaning here than I fully understand, hidden in references to weather and names of characters and locations. Water seems to have a particular significance with reference to the stream that marks the edge of the heath, Eusatia’s first appearance on Rain Barrow, her meetings with Wildeve marked by the sound of a stone thrown into the pond, Clyms first meeting being as he helps to repair her well and brings her water, and her final end in drowning.
    It is also apparant on knowing something of the story beforehand that there are many references to blindness leading up to Clyms actual blindness, with most of the characters in the story unable or unwilling to understand one anothers true characters.
    Although some of the first chapters are difficult the story soons picks up speed and it is worth the inital effort.


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