31 May 2009

May Classic: Tess of the D'Urbervilles

Ahhh...so I completely forgot I was doing the may classic, not Alcott, which is why this one is so late. Oops. Which means my review comes without a re-reading of this classic - was planning to have a bit of a refresher read before my June classic review. No matter - I studied this one at school so god knows I had to read it over and over and over and over and over...
Which is really too bad for me because I hate this book. I rarely say that about books - even while disliking just about every character in Wuthering Heights I was able to appreciate it as a great piece of literature - I can see where people are coming from with that. Tess of the D'Urbervilles not so much. Seriously, Thomas Hardy: What was your problem? Do you hate happiness that much? Would it have killed you to give Tess a skerrick of joy in her miserable depressing life?

Tess Durbeyfield is a poor girl sent to rich relations to get cash, the rich son takes a liking to her and so rapes her. She gives birth to a kid called 'Sorrow' who dies, she falls in love, on her wedding night tells her new husband of her past, he chucks her, her father dies and her family is facing life on the streets so she becomes rich-son-who-raped-her's mistress. Husband comes back feeling bad, she tells him its too late, then angry at life, stabs rich guy to death, kisses husband one last time before being hung. The End. 

Can you hand me that straight razor?

The thing is, not only is the book incredibly depressing, but it is a chore to read, each chapter drags on and on and on and on and on...AND its confusing too. Half of my year eleven English class didn't even realise that Alec had raped Tess. Suddenly this random baby turns up and you have to turn back a chapter and realise that when Alec 'gives her a flask' you're supposed to assume he give her something else as well. Wink wink. Except in my second hand old copy the text is still censored so Alec 'gives her his cloak'. Wink?

Maybe there is something I am not getting: my English teacher assured me that in 30 years time I will have grown to appreciate the wonder that is Tess. I think not. Feel free to disagree though...

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