Tess of the D’Urbervilles
A Pure Woman
Thomas Hardy’s novel of seduction and abandonment introduced his most memorable tragic heroine, the unworldly maiden Tess. On her morning journey to earn money for her impoverished family, Tess’ horse has an accident, forcing her to seek assistance from some newly rich relatives. There, she is vigorously pursued by Alec, who corners her in a field one night and takes advantage of her. After bearing a child who quickly dies, Tess meets and falls in love with Angel, a minister’s son who is infatuated with the image of Tess as the pure country maid. But when he learns the truth of her past, he shuns his new bride and leaves Tess once again to fend for herself in a world where she is only valued for her uses to others.
Explanatory Note to the First Edition of Tess of the D’Urbervilles:
“In respectof the book’s opinions and sentiments, I would ask any too genteel reader, whocannot endure to have said what everybody nowadays thinks and feels, toremember a well-worn sentence of St. Jerome’s: If an offence come out of thetruth, better is it that the offence come than that the truth be concealed.”
ThomasHardy, November 1891