London: Smith, Elder, & Co., 1878. 2 pp undated ads in Vol II. Bound in full dark blue morocco, dentelles ornately gilt, blue linen endpapers.
First Edition, which consisted of only 1000 copies. This is one of the four novels typically cited as constituting the peak of Hardy's oeuvre -- the others being THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE, FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD and TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES. It is Hardy's tale of Damon Wildeve of Egdon Heath and the two women who love him, Thomasin Yeobright and Eustacia Vye -- and the return of the native (Thomasin's cousin, Clym Yeobright) from his stint as a diamond merchant in Paris. The book was controversial upon publication, due to its frank treatment of sexuality (including an extramarital affair); present also is Hardy's usual mercilessness of the fates. "The twin triumphs of the book are Eustacia -- rebellious, passionate, longing for another sky and different air -- and Egdon Heath itself" [CGEL].
THE RETURN OF THE NATIVE was originally bound in decorated brown cloth (bound in at the rear of each of these volumes), but this copy is rebound in full dark blue morocco, dentelles ornately gilt, blue linen endpapers; all three half-titles and the sole ad leaf (Vol II) were retained. Since most of the first edition went directly to the lending libraries and were then read to death, a good percentage of the copies are today rebound. Condition is just about fine (only a trace of chafing at the joints). Purdy pp 24-27; Sadleir 1113; Wolff 2989. Item #14816