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Recently, I did something that I rarely do. I watched a movie (actually, a BBC mini-series) based on a classic novel, before reading the novel itself. It’s a novel that I have put off reading for too long a time…
Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy.
Before reading it, I thought the title made it sound like a classic, young adult novel. I had somehow avoided reading the book in college.
And I have NEVER been more wrong. At least, this is the judgement I have made after binge-watching the very well-made BBC miniseries. As soon as it ended, I immediately got online to search for a copy of the book – because I now know I must read it. There were very clear moments in the mini-series where I felt I needed the book to show me the inner workings of Tess’ mind. I needed to hear her inner dialogue to fully understand her.
Because I have not yet read the book, I cannot fully comment on Tess of the d’Urbervilles as a feminist text, though, you should expect that commentary in the future. And, to be completely honest, I am surprised at feeling so compelled after watching a story written by a man, about a woman.
For the past few years, I have stuck to literature written by women. Perhaps it is the madness swirling around us and the election of a misogynist president that catapulted me into the world of women authors. Perhaps it is because university English courses still tend to focus on literature written by men and so there is so much women’s literature left for me to read. Likely, it is because I think Jane Austen and the Brontes are the bee’s knees. But, no matter the reason, I felt myself thirsting for the female perspective.
At this very moment, I am in the process of figuring out what my next home will look like. I am hoping that wherever I land, the space will have a nook to serve as a library. Because I want a library to call my own, I have been thinking more and more about beginning a collection of lovely hardcovers for said library.
Tess of the d’Urbervilles seems the perfect place to start on my collection. It is a difficult decision. I am looking for a beautiful, affordable, and durable collection of books. To be honest, I’d collect antique editions of everything if I had endless resources and could guarantee that they wouldn’t come to harm, but that is not the case. I plan to read them (again, in some cases) and I hope my children will too.