Far from the Madding Crowd
Far from the Madding Crowd was British writer Thomas Hardy’s fourth novel, and his first successful literary effort. Published in 1874, the book was originally serialized anonymously in Cornhill Magazine, where it gained critical acclaim. Hardy later revised the novel for 1895 and 1901 editions.
The plot of Far from the Madding Crowd follows Gabriel Oak, a young shepherd, who falls in love with Bathsheba Everdene. Despite their friendship, Bathsheba scorns his proposal of marriage and moves away to Weatherby. After this, Gabriel loses his flock and becomes penniless. Bathsheba has inherited her late uncle’s estate, and hires Gabriel as her shepherd.
After several suitors woo Bathsheba, she marries Sergeant Troy, who later disappears. Bathsheba agrees to marry Boldwood, but Troy returns. Boldwood then shoots Troy, and is condemned for murder. Throughout all of this, Bathsheba comes to realize that the only person she can rely on is her oldest friend, Gabriel. Just as he is about to leave for California, she realizes that she wants to be with him, and the two are quietly married.
Far from the Maddening Crowd is an example of Thomas Hardy’s rural Wessex, where he set many of his novels. Hardy invented Wessex to represent Southwest England, where he grew up. A similar fictionalization of an area occurs in many of the novels by William Faulkner.