“Letters I’ve written, never meaning to send”*

*from “Nights in White Satin” by Justin Hayward: “I was nineteen or twenty at the time, living in a two-room flat in Bayswater with Graeme [Edge, Moody Blues drummer] and our girlfriends. I came back from a gig one night, around four or five in the morning, when the birds were just twittering, sat on the side of the bed and wrote a couple of verses.

From Wikipedia:

Tess of the d’Urbervilles: A Pure Woman Faithfully Presented is a novel by Thomas Hardy. It initially appeared in a censored and serialised version, published by the British illustrated newspaper The Graphic in 1891, then in book form in three volumes in 1891, and as a single volume in 1892. Though now considered a major 19th-century English novel, even Hardy’s fictional masterpiece, Tess of the d’Urbervilles received mixed reviews when it first appeared, in part because it challenged the sexual morals of late Victorian England.

Summary

“…Angel returns to Talbothays Dairy and asks Tess to marry him. This puts Tess in a painful dilemma: Angel clearly thinks her a virgin, and she shrinks from confessing her past. Such is her love for him, though, that she finally agrees to the marriage, pretending she had only hesitated because she had heard he hated old families and thought he would not approve of her d’Urberville ancestry. However, he is pleased by the news, as he thinks it will make their match more suitable in the eyes of his family.

As the marriage approaches, Tess grows increasingly troubled. She writes to her mother for advice; Joan tells her to keep silent about her past. Her anxiety increases when a man from Trantridge, named Groby, recognises her and crudely alludes to her history. Angel overhears and flies into an uncharacteristic rage. Tess, deciding to tell Angel the truth, writes a letter describing her dealings with d’Urberville and slips it under his door. When Angel greets her with the usual affection the next morning, she thinks he has forgiven her; later she discovers the letter under his carpet and realises that he has not seen it. She destroys it.

The wedding ceremony goes smoothly, apart from the bad omen of a cock crowing in the afternoon. Tess and Angel spend their wedding night at an old d’Urberville family mansion, where Angel presents his bride with diamonds that belonged to his godmother. When he confesses that he once had a brief affair with an older woman in London, Tess finally feels able to tell Angel about Alec, thinking he will understand and forgive.

Angel is appalled by the revelation and makes it clear that Tess is reduced in his eyes. Although he admits that Tess was “more sinned against” than sinning, he feels that her “want of firmness” against Alec may indicate a flaw in her character and that she is no longer the woman he thought she was. He spends the wedding night on a sofa. After a few awkward days, a devastated Tess suggests they separate, saying that she will return to her parents. Angel gives her some money and promises to try to reconcile himself to her past, but warns her not to try to join him until he sends for her.

After a brief visit to his parents, Angel takes a ship to Brazil to see if he can start a new life there. Before he leaves, he encounters Tess’s milkmaid friend Izz and impulsively asks her to come with him as his mistress. She accepts, but when he asks her how much she loves him, she admits “Nobody could love ‘ee more than Tess did! She would have laid down her life for ‘ee. I could do no more!” Hearing this, he abandons the whim, and Izz goes home weeping bitterly…”

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