"It was in the chapters of Far from the Madding Crowd...that I first ventured to adopt the word 'Wessex,'" wrote Thomas Hardy and so described the birth of that fictional region in the southwest of England where the hauntingly familiar names - Egdon Heath, Christminster, Casterbridge - have come to evoke the melancholy grandeur of Hardy's world. The rural sheep-raising country of this early novel escapes the gloom that permeates the landscape and he characters of such later tragedies as Jude the Obscure and Tess of the D'Urbervilles. But the relentless accidents of an indifferent nature, combined with the ill-fated passions of beautiful Bathseba Everdene and her lovers, create the thwarted purposes and shattering griefs that make this a characteristically powerful Hardy novel.
Graced with the splendid illustrations executed by Helen Paterson for the first edition of the novel, this special Collector's Edition of Far from the Madding Crowd also features handwritten letters and drawings by Hardy, as well as rare and intimate portraits of the author and his first wife, Emma. Here, too, readers are granted a fascinating and touching glimpse of how two great imaginative writers interact with one another: This edition reproduces the handwritten pages from Virginia Woolf's diary in which she recounts her now-famous visit with the very aged Thomas Hardy at his home, Max Gate, in 1926.
From the Hardcover edition.
Margaret Drabble edited The Oxford Companion to English Literature and The Genius of Thomas Hardy. Her novels include The Waterfall and The Gates of Ivory, and, most recently, The Witch of Exmoor and The Peppered Moth. She lives in England.
“Far from the Madding Crowd is the first of Thomas Hardy’s great novels, and the first to sound the tragic note
for which his fiction is best remembered.”
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