A new edition of Thomas Hardy's 1891 novel Tess of the d'Urbervilles, with an introduction and notes by Margaret Elvy.
Tess of the d'Urbervilles is a novel of anger, a text which rages against time, God, industrialization, and social institutions such as marriage, Chrisianity, the Church, law and education. What does Tess Durbeyfield do that is 'wrong'? Thomas Hardy explains in the book: '[s]he had been made to break an accepted social law, but no law known to the environment in which she fancied herself such an anomaly.'
Tess of the d'Urbervilles was produced for the Graphic maagzine, in weekly instalments in 1891. The novel underwent a number of changes, from its appearance in Graphic, to the 'episodic sketches' in Fortnightly Review and the National Observer, to the editions of 1891, 1892, 1895, 1902 and 1912. At the stage of the one-volume edition of Tess, Thomas Hardy was still changing plot and character; it was not a finished text, as most of Hardy's other books were by this stage.
The serialization demanded plot development in each installment, as in weekly TV soap operas. The serial Graphic Tess of the d'Ubervilles contained more sensational elements than the novel; or, more correctly, Hardy put in some of the more lurid scenes to spice up the installments, and left them in the novel in the first edition and in following editions.
In the Life, his autobiography, Hardy relates how the serial of Tess of the d'Urbervilles was rejected by Murray's Magazine and Macmillan's Magazine; so, before sending it to the third editor, of the Graphic Magazine, Hardy edited it. He took out the offending chapters, planning to publish them separately, and corrected the text. Hardy 'carried out this unceremonious concession to conventionality with cynical amusement,' he says in the Life, 'knowing the novel was moral enough and to spare.' As he notes, the work was drudgery, and it might have been easier for him to have written a new story.