One of Thomas Hardy's most powerful works, The Return of the Native centers famously on Egdon Heath, the wild, haunted Wessex moor that D. H. Lawrence called "the real stuff of tragedy." The heath's changing face mirrors the fortunes of the farmers, inn-keepers, sons, mothers, and lovers who populate the novel. The "native" is Clym Yeobright, who comes home from a cosmopolitan life in Paris. He; his cousin Thomasin; her fiancé, Damon Wildeve; and the willful Eustacia Vye are the protagonists in a tale of doomed love, passion, alienation, and melancholy as Hardy brilliantly explores that theme so familiar throughout his fiction: the diabolical role of chance in determining the course of a life.
As Alexander Theroux asserts in his Introduction, Hardy was "committed to the deep expression of [nature's] ironic chaos and strange apathy, even hostility, toward man."
About the Author
Thomas Hardy was born in 1840 in Dorchester, Dorset. He enrolled as a student in King s College, London, but never felt at ease there, seeing himself as socially inferior. This preoccupation with society, particularly the declining rural society, featured heavily in Hardy s novels, with many of his stories set in the fictional county of Wessex. Since his death in 1928, Hardy has been recognised as a significant poet, influencing The Movement poets in the 1950s and 1960s.
Alexander Theroux is an award-winning novelist, poet and teacher whose prose works include Laura Warholic or, The Sexual Intellectual, Estonia, and the two artist monographs The Strange Case of Edward Gorey and The Enigma of Al Capp. His novel Darconville s Cat was chosen by Anthony Burgess as one of the 99 greatest post-war novels. He lives in Massachusetts with his wife Sarah-Son Theroux.
"This is the quality Hardy shares with the great writers...this setting behind the small action the terrific action of unfathomed nature."
--D. H. Lawrence