Do you ever want a modern soundtrack to literary fiction? Yes? Me too. That’s the point of this feature. Whereas some people imagine cinematic montages in their head, I create a soundtrack.

Okay, so I actually do both, but I prefer to share my soundtrack.


Today’s mixtape features one of my favorite controversial English literature staples: Tess of the D’Ubervilles. Although it is not my favorite novel by Thomas Hardy (that would be Return of the Native), I do enjoy all of the tragedy featured in this particular story. Consider this my contribution to the lost art of the mixed tape, with a classic literature twist*.

01. Sea of Sorrow / Alice in Chains

You, and those like you, take your fill of pleasure on earth by making the life of such as me bitter and black with sorrow; and then it is a fine thing, when you have had enough of that, to think of securing your pleasure in heaven by becoming converted!

02. Where To Begin / My Morning Jacket

In the ill-judged execution of the well-judged plan of things the call seldom produces the comer, the man to love rarely coincides with the hour for loving. Nature does not often say “See!” to her poor creature at a time when seeing can lead to happy doing; or reply “Here!” to a body’s cry of “Where?” till the hide-and-seek has become an irksome, outworn game. We may wonder whether at the acme and summit of the human progress these anachronisms will be corrected by a finer intuition, a close interaction of the social machinery than that which now jolts us round and along; but such completeness is not to be prophesied, or even conceived as possible.

03. Bridges / Broods

I agree to the conditions, Angel; because you know best what my punishment ought to be; only – only – don’t make it more than I can bear!

04. Wrong Way / Sublime

Thus, the thing began. Had she perceived this meeting’s import she might have asked why she was doomed to be seen and coveted that day by the wrong man, and not by some other man, the right and desired one in all respects…

05. Emotionally Yours / Bob Dylan (so ’80s)

It was then that the ecstasy and the dream began, in which emotion was the matter of the universe, and matter but an adventitious intrusion likely to hinder you from spinning where you wanted to spin.

06. At Least It Was / Emiliana Torrini

She was not an existence, an experience, a passion, a structure of sensations, to anybody but herself.

07. Change / Deftones

His original Tess had spiritually ceased to recognize the body before him as hers – allowing it to drift, like a corpse upon the current, in a direction disassociated from its living will.

08. Just What I Needed / The Cars

Their position was perhaps the happiest of all positions in the social scale, being above the line at which neediness ends, and below the line at which the convenances begin to cramp natural feeling, and the stress of threadbare modishness makes too little of enough.

09. Sympathy for the Devil / Rolling Stones

It was terribly beautiful to Tess today, for since her eyes last fell upon it she had learnt that the serpent hisses where the sweet birds sing.

10. Same In Any Language / I Nine

So do flux and reflux–the rhythm of change–alternate and persist in everything under the sky.

11. Either Way / Beta Radio

Nobody had beheld the gravitation of the two into one.

12. One / Metallica

The clock struck the solemn hour of one, that hour when fancy stalks outside reason, and malignant possibilities stand rock-firm as facts.

13. Love / Daughter

O why have you treated me so monstrously, Angel! I do not deserve it. I have thought it all over carefully, and I can never, never forgive you! You know that I did not intend to wrong you – why have you so wronged me? You are cruel, cruel indeed! I will try to forget you. It is all injustice I have received at your hands!

So there you have it. One modern soundtrack for the tale of a fallen woman in Victorian society. As usual, feel free to contribute – if you’re so inclined. Also, please feel free to share your favorite Thomas Hardy novel. If you haven’t read one, what are you doing here? I’m only kidding, though I do want to know how you plan to rectify that.

*If you’re reading this in real time (meaning Monday, February 3rd), do know that I am actually contributing to society today. I have jury duty. This is my third summons in five years. Ridiculous. Wish me luck and impartiality.


  1. I love Tess! But I haven’t read any others by Hardy, although I have always meant to and I have about 3 others on my shelf. That must be worth something, right?


  2. I once bought all of Thomas Hardy’s novels, thinking I’d read them all as a little project. I started with Jude the Obscure, and I was so depressed after reading it that I haven’t touched Thomas Hardy since. Tess in on my Classics Club list, though. Great soundtrack! And good luck with jury duty . . .


    1. Tess won’t cheer you up any. The Return of the Native isn’t quite as bad, but still isn’t exactly cheery.

      And thanks, I was dismissed during voir dire. So all is well…


    1. Thank you. You made me blush. If I had to guess a song on here that you might like, I would guess Bridges / Broods.

      And if anyone heads the wrong way it’s Tess.


    1. Thankfully I have at least half a functioning brain, so I wouldn’t do that, but no joke one of the first warnings when you sit down is no FB/tweeting/blogging/etc. And yes, they actually list blogging.

      I was dismissed during voir dire. My history is such that it is unlikely I’ll ever serve on a jury for anything more than a traffic violation.


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