“She was not an existence, an experience, a passion, a structure of sensations, to anybody but herself. To all humankind besides Tess was only a passing thought. Even to friends she was no more than a frequently passing thought.” – Tess, Tess of the D’Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy.
I clearly remember reading this sentence. I was in my school uniform which was always uncomfortable to me – a tartan skirt and navy stockings that never seemed to fit laying on my bed. I was getting a bit bored with Shakespeare (Sorry!) and my attention span was good for a teenager but it was hitting its limits until this book came along.I was cranking some rage against the machine and was only half interested in reading it but this book made me actually focus. I turned my cd player off and was hooked. I finished it that night.
I was always good at English, I love language and all its constructs but it wasn’t until I read the above that I fell in love for the first time. Yes. Thomas Hardy was my first love – and to be honest, he’s still a consistent lover! This is my favourite literary work that is categorised as a classic.
Before I go on I really need to preface this with 3 things.
1) I have loved this book since I read it in 1998 in English class – well and truly before fifty shades of shamozles referenced it
2) I take delight that the lovely Eddie Redmayne played Angel in one of the many adaptations – the crush was well and truly cemented back in the day prior to his oscar rise. Just look at him…
3) If I have a daughter I want to call her Tess – who doesn’t want to be named after wonderful literary figures? ! Too bad she has no say!
It was through reading this book that I finally understood what everyone was referring to when they said it’s one of the great classics. I am definitely just reflecting a lot lately and wishing that things were simpler in some ways.
Can’t we go back? Take me back. Delorian? Anyone?
Back to when ‘olden times’ meant a time that was not swamped with facebook, texting, social media etc. If someone ( a man) wasn’t writing you letters, dropping by to your house, asking permission to see you or calling you and arranging to see you consistently – it was very clear, they weren’t interested. Simple.
Fast forward to this whirlwind we are in now. The information superhighway of modernity. Where we put up with people not making the effort. With so many modes of communications there really is no excuse. I won’t even open that issue up …it bothers me immensely. We just take it all for granted now. Words seem to have lost their weight. To someone like me (and my cousin) who love language and etymology, we struggle with how people use language these days…in a somewhat reckless fashion.
What happened to that time where true connection seemed to matter, you took your time to know someone, you couldn’t swipe left or right. The fun was in the discovery and in the process. Now you can just stalk them and instantly know numerous facts about them already.
Throughout all my study through school and then university, I never had the chance to explore the love component of the novel. I was too busy being all ‘academic’ and answering technical questions. I didn’t really mind this because at least this way I didn’t have to dissect the love elements. I let them float around my head.
I definitely think I fell in love with the language used to describe how Angel observes Tess and the way he talks about their love.
Some of my favourite quotes are below – take me back to a time where we talk like this x
“They met continually; they could not help it. They met daily in that strange and solemn interval, the twilight of the morning, in the violet or pink dawn; for it was necessary to rise early, so very early, here.”
“How very loveable her face was to him. Yet there was nothing ethereal about it; all was real vitality, real warmth, real incarnation. And it was in her mouth that this culminated. Eyes almost as deep and speaking he had seen before, and cheeks perhaps as fair; brows as arched, a chin and throat almost as shapely; her mouth he had seen nothing to equal on the face of the earth. To a young man with the least fire in him that little upward lift in the middle of her red top lip was distracting, infatuating, maddening. He had never before seen a woman’s lips and teeth which forced upon his mind with such persistent iteration the old Elizabethan simile of roses filled with snow.
Perfect, he, as a lover, might have called them off-hand. But no — they were not perfect. And it was the touch of the imperfect upon the would-be perfect that gave the sweetness,
because it was that which gave the humanity.”
all this…written by a man. This truly wonderful man.
Thomas Hardy xxx