Author: Thomas Hardy
eNotator: Howard Barbour
The eNotated Tess of the d'Ubervilles
First published by Hardy in 1891, this edition of "Tess" includes a Hardy biography, a chronology of his life, a timeline of major events, 27 illustrations (with eleven original drawings from the 1898 edition) and eNotations that extend Hardy’s writing by providing a new layer of information behind the text the reader can access before, during, and after each chapter. For instance, in Chapter 1, when Hardy mentions hedgerows, Barbour’s eNotation tells us “Before the introduction of barbed wire livestock were detained in fields by stone walls, wooden fences or most commonly trimmed hedges. In medieval times when 'arable' or cropped fields were divided into strips and the strips allocated to the villagers according to station, the 'hedger' always got the strip adjacent to the hedge he tended, thus if the livestock broke through the hedge it was his crop they ruined first.
Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles: A Pure Woman Faithfully Presented, is perhaps Hardy’s most beloved book - but his poignant and insightful novel is filled with 19th century agricultural terms, geographical and literary references, and Wessex idioms that may be lost to the modern reader. Howard Barbour, born not far from Hardy’s Wessex, grew up listening to stories of late 19th century rural life told by a disappearing generation, and then as a young man worked in and studied agriculture just as the last vestiges of age-old practices were being swept away by the new. In this eNotated edition of “Tess,” Barbour provides the background and explanations readers need to thoroughly understand, appreciate, and enjoy Hardy’s classic by adding hundreds of electronic annotations linked to words and phrases in Hardy’s original text.
The eNotated Far from the Madding Crowd
First published by Hardy in 1874, this edition of "Madding Crowd" includes a Hardy biography, a chronology of his life, a timeline of major events, 63 illustrations, and eNotations that extend Hardy’s writing by providing a new layer of information behind the text the reader can access before, during, and after each chapter.
For instance, in Chapter 2, when Hardy mentions a shepherd's hut, Barbour’s eNotation tells us “These huts were mounted on wheels and drawn from pasture to pasture in order that the shepherd might stay close to his flock. They were used particularly at lambing time, but some shepherds stayed with the flock year round” and he adds an illustration of a shepherd's hut.
Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd is perhaps Hardy’s positive Wessex novel - a story of how a single woman struggles to maintain her independence in a patriarcal world - but it is filled with 19th century agricultural terms, geographical and literary references, and Wessex idioms that may be lost to the modern reader. Howard Barbour, born not far from Hardy’s Wessex, grew up listening to stories of late 19th century rural life told by a disappearing generation, and then as a young man worked in and studied agriculture just as the last vestiges of age-old practices were being swept away by the new. In this eNotated edition of Far from the Madding Crowd Barbour provides the background and explanations readers need to thoroughly understand, appreciate, and enjoy Hardy’s classic by adding hundreds of electronic annotations linked to words and phrases in Hardy’s original text.
Thomas Hardy, (2 June 1840 – 11 January 1925), was born at Higher Bockhampton, a hamlet in the parish of Stinsford in the county of Dorset, England. His father Thomas (d.1892) worked as a stonemason and local builder. His mother Jemima (d.1904) educated Thomas until he went to his first school at Bockhampton at age eight. For several years he attended Mr. Last's Academy for Young Gentlemen in Dorchester, where he demonstrated considerable academic potential. However, a family of Hardy's modest standing lacked the means for a university education, and so his formal education ended at the age of sixteen when he became apprenticed to James Hicks, a local architect.
Hardy trained as an architect in Dorchester before moving to London in 1862; there he enrolled as a student at Kings College, London. He won prizes from the Royal Institute of Architects and the Architectural Association. However Hardy never felt at home in London. He was acutely conscious of class divisions and his social inferiority, which spurred his interest in social reform and the works of John Stuart Mill. He had gained some recognition for his writing and so after five years in London and as he had become increasingly concerned about his health, he decided to return to the clear air of Dorset and dedicate himself to writing full time.
Hardy set his novels largely in the second half of the 19th century, a period of great social and economic change. The age of steam had arrived and the railway, which served this part of southwest England, opened in 1847 with the local Dorset branch line opening in 1875.
The economy of ‘Hardy’s Wessex’, a region, once a kingdom, but having no political recognition, was largely dependant on agriculture, with livestock farming being a slightly better proposition than crops. Much to the chagrin and occasional outright opposition of the farm laborers, machines were replacing hand labor. Hardy describes reaper and thresher operations in Tess, both of which were targets of wrecking gangs, fearful of the loss of their jobs.
Farmers always seem to do well out of wars on foreign soil, in this case the Napoleonic war 1799-1814, but after these relatively good times on the land, which lasted until the 1830’s, farm prices and particularly wheat, began to fade. The more scientific approach to farming and the increased productivity of machinery, led to surpluses which were further added to by imports from the European continent and overseas, particularly North America. Industrialists rejoiced in the fact that their increasing labor force could be fed less expensively, to farmers and landowners however lower prices brought no joy.
Here perhaps I should digress to point out who actually owned the land. Hereditary landowners, some of whom could trace their ownership back to the 11th century, owned 75% of the land, some of which they farmed as ‘in-hand’ with the help of a manager or bailiff, but by far the largest proportion of these large estates were rented out to tenant farmers, some of whom had held the land as tenants for generations. The remaining 25% of the total farmable land in the country was divided between, Gentleman Farmers, not aristocrats but neither were they working farmers, Yeomen Farmers or working owner occupiers and various agencies including The Church of England, ancient colleges, hospitals and schools.
By 1870 a full blown agricultural depression was in force, exacerbated by the most appallingly wet and cold summers ever recorded. As commodity prices fell so too did the wages of the farm workers. Wessex was already one of the lowest paid regions in the country, providing the adult worker with 7-8 shillings [approximately 1.50 dollar] per week, compared with 11-12 shillings in the midlands and North of England, where due to competition from industry, labor was scarcer. Housing for the workers was usually tied to the job and was pretty rudimentary by even industrial worker standards. The following is part of a report on housing submitted by a Dr. John Fox in 1842, subsequent to an outbreak of Cholera in the village of Cerne Abas, right in the heart of Hardy country.
Most of the cottages are of the worst description, some mere mud hovels and situated in low damp places with cesspools and accumulations of filth close to the doors. In a family of six persons, two had the fever; the mud floor of the cottage was at least a foot below the level of the road outside. Persons living in theses cottages are generally very poor, very dirty, living almost wholly on potatoes and scarcely ever tasting meat. Consequently they are highly susceptible to disease and very unable to contend with it should it come.
Sir James Caird a prominent Victorian whilst crossing Salisbury Plain in 1850, enquired of a passing local a description of his life and learned that a farm worker’s weekly wage to be 7 shillings a week, with a shilling of that to be paid as rent, the man was a carter and so looked upon as a skilled worker.
We were curious to know how the money was economized and heard this account of his daily diet. After preparing his horses for the day's work he takes his breakfast, which is made of flour with a little butter and water from the kettle poured over it. He then takes to the field a piece of bread and [if he has not a young family and can afford it] a piece of cheese to eat at midday. He returns home in the late afternoon to a few potatoes and possibly a little bacon. His supper after another hour or so putting up the horses is usually bread and water.
Attempts were made by the workers to improve their working and living conditions, trade unions were formed, but owing to the scattered nature of their employment few thrived. Added to that the experience of the six men of Tolpuddle, Dorset, who downed tools and refused to work for less than 10 shillings a week, dampened much union ardor.
The action of these men, later known as the “Tolpuddle Martyrs”, was legal, but since they had sworn an oath of solidarity they were accused of swearing a seditious oath, tried, convicted and sentenced to Transportation to Australia. The sentences were imposed and all six were shipped off to Botany Bay, however the public outcry was sufficient to collect 800,000 signatures of support, which led to their subsequent release and repatriation.
This depression, which afflicted the workers most direly, also impacted farmers and landowners. Some farmers simply gave up and either emigrated or sold up and moved to the cities. Landowners were faced with untenanted farms. Some recruited farmers from Scotland to come south and farm at reduced rent or even rent free for one or two years. The farm population shrank considerably. The census of 1851 listed 249,000 farmers with 1.4 million male workers and 200,000 females working their land, but by 1911 this number had dropped to 665,000 total workers.
Life in the country was hard, but for all that it seemed to be tolerated by the common folk. There were fairs and festivals, dances and harvest suppers; not all landowners and farmers were beastly to their workers. Life was tenuous and insecure, but healthier than it was in the festering slums of industrial England. This was the world into which Tess was born and raised.
About eNotator Howard Barbour
Staying on the small-holding of a relative, he decided right then, at age eight, that farming would be his life. In 1956 at age twelve, he began working on a local farm, in time to see the last vestiges of the farming life Thomas Hardy describes, disappear.
In those days there were still village blacksmiths, barbers, wart charmers, corpse dressers and dousers, a few workhorses and the old men who handled them. These old men regaled him with stories of terrible horse accidents, steam traction engines, threshing gangs, game keepers and poachers, and the hard slog that was the life of these men and their wives. He remembers twenty Gypsy caravans on the village green and snowball or horse turd wars with the gypsy kids.
After an apprenticeship then college, he settled to managing a 100 cow dairy unit. A temporary but debilitating injury gave him pause to reconsider and he opted for a more secure career in teaching. Howard taught agriculture in both Scotland, and England.
Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
Five Stars: Great way to read the classics
By NMA ,May 21, 2012, Amazon Kindle
I first read Tess of the D'Urbervilles back in college. I loved it. My paperback edition is underlined & highlighted throughout.
Recently, I read 50 Shades of Grey (note: my only defense is that I had to because it was a Book Club pick!) and because Tess is referred to all the time in 50 Shades I decided to re-read it.
I read it on my iPad and it was just as I remembered it. Sad, but delightful. Loved reading the eNotated edition as it was easy to reference the annotations, and quite a few images are included as well.
Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
I had planned on The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy as my last book for the Victorian Celebration but then I received an offer from eNotated Classics to read one of their ebooks so I chose Tess of the D'Urbervilles - same author, different title.
I first read it many years ago as a teenager and really only remembered how terribly tragic Tess's personal story was and the buckets of tears I cried. This time I had more understanding of the themes and appreciation of Thomas Hardy's depiction of rural English life.
The story begins one day when the parson tells Tess's father, Jack Durbeyfield, he is descended from an ancient noble family, the D'Urbervilles. The irresponsible Durbeyfield parents, poor but also prone to drinking away what little they do have, discover a local family D'Urberville and send their daughter to work for them in the hopes of improving their fortunes and finding Tess a rich husband. But Tess is seduced by Alec D'Urberville and returns home pregnant, a 'fallen woman'.
Three years later Tess again leaves home to work as a dairymaid and meets Angel Clare, the man she will marry and who will also betray her.
Thomas Hardy's beautiful, lyrical prose vividly depicts the rural way of life - the dialect, the old customs, superstitions and beliefs are fascinating and after thirty years as a farmer's wife some of the descriptions are dear and familiar. "The red and white herd nearest at hand, which had been phlegmatically waiting for the call, now trooped towards the steading in the background, their great bags of milk swinging under them as they walked."
Hardy attacks the Victorian double standards, their attitudes to sexuality, class and women through Tess's relationships with Alec and Angel . Despite her good qualities and perseverance Tess is continually condemned to be a victim and powerless to defeat the stronger forces against her. Tess is symbolic of the old way of life, centered materially and spiritually around Mother Nature; both doomed to be destroyed by masculine greed and a repressive, patriarchal religion. It's a tragedy that is so heartbreaking to read but with an ending that you know is inevitable. A deeply moving and thought provoking story of love and loss.
I love Thomas Hardy!
eNotated Classics editions partner a classic with an expert on the author and period who create notes for the reader. It's the same as having notations at the bottom of a printed page and I found it very useful having them at my fingertip as I read. The eNotator for Tess of the D'Urbervilles is Howard Barbour.
This edition of Tess also includes a biography of Thomas Hardy, a chronology of his life, a timeline of major events and 27 illustrations.