Jude the Obscure

Jude the Obscure

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Overview

Jude's story — his futile desire to better himself through education, his failed marriage and doomed love for the free-spirited Sue Bridehead — shows with heartbreaking clarity the devastating effects of prejudice and oppression upon innocent minds, and forms a passionate plea for tolerance.

Because of its frank treatment of human sexuality and its unflinching fatalism, Jude the Obscure aroused such a storm of controversy upon its publication in 1895 that, partly in response, Thomas Hardy abandoned the art of novel-writing altogether and devoted the rest of his life to poetry. Though we have come a long way in our social attitudes in the ensuing century, nothing about Hardy's masterpiece has lost its power to shock us and disturb our dreams.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780679409939
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 12/28/1992
Series: Everyman's Library
Pages: 568
Sales rank: 836,030
Product dimensions: 5.26(w) x 8.25(h) x 1.23(d)
Age Range: 14 - 18 Years

About the Author

Rosellen Brown is the author of Half a Heart, The Autobiography of My Mother, Tender Mercies and Before and After. She lives in Chicago.

Date of Birth:

June 2, 1840

Date of Death:

January 11, 1928

Place of Birth:

Higher Brockhampon, Dorset, England

Place of Death:

Max Gate, Dorchester, England

Education:

Served as apprentice to architect James Hicks

Read an Excerpt

Part First at Marygreen

“Yea, many there be that have run out of their wits for women, and become servants for their sakes. Many also have perished, have erred, and sinned, for women. . . . O ye men, how can it be but women should be strong, seeing they do thus?” —Esdras.

I.-i.

The schoolmaster was leaving the village, and everybody seemed sorry. The miller at Cresscombe1 lent him the small white tilted cart and horse to carry his goods to the city of his destination, about twenty miles off, such a vehicle proving of quite sufficient size for the departing teacher’s effects. For the schoolhouse had been partly furnished by the managers, and the only cumbersome article possessed by the master, in addition to the packing-case of books, was a cottage piano that he had bought at an auction during the year in which he thought of learning instrumental music. But the enthusiasm having waned he had never acquired any skill in playing, and the purchased article had been a perpetual trouble to him ever since in moving house.

The rector had gone away for the day, being a man who disliked the sight of changes. He did not mean to return till the evening, when the new school-teacher would have arrived and settled in, and everything would be smooth again.

The blacksmith, the farm bailiff, and the schoolmaster himself were standing in perplexed attitudes in the parlour before the instrument. The master had remarked that even if he got it into the cart he should not know what to do with it on his arrival at Christminster, the city he was bound for, since he was only going into temporary lodgings just at first.

A little boy of eleven, who had been thoughtfully assisting in the packing, joined the group of men, and as they rubbed their chins he spoke up, blushing at the sound of his own voice: “Aunt have got a great fuel-house, and it could be put there, perhaps, till you’ve found a place to settle in, sir.”

“A proper good notion,” said the blacksmith.

It was decided that a deputation should wait on the boy’s aunt—an old maiden resident—and ask her if she would house the piano till Mr. Phillotson should send for it. The smith and the bailiff started to see the practicability of the suggested shelter, and the boy and the schoolmaster were left standing alone.

“Sorry I am going, Jude?” asked the latter kindly.

Tears rose into the boy’s eyes, for he was not among the regular day scholars, who came unromantically close to the schoolmaster’s life, but one who had attended the night school only during the present teacher’s term of office. The regular scholars, if the truth must be told, stood at the present moment afar off, like certain historic disciples, indisposed to any enthusiastic volunteering of aid.

The boy awkwardly opened the book he held in his hand, which Mr. Phillotson had bestowed on him as a parting gift, and admitted that he was sorry.

“So am I,” said Mr. Phillotson.

“Why do you go, sir?” asked the boy.

“Ah—that would be a long story. You wouldn’t understand my reasons, Jude. You will, perhaps, when you are older.”

“I think I should now, sir.”

“Well—don’t speak of this everywhere. You know what a university is, and a university degree? It is the necessary hall-mark of a man who wants to do anything in teaching. My scheme, or dream, is to be a university graduate, and then to be ordained. By going to live at Christminster, or near it, I shall be at headquarters, so to speak, and if my scheme is practicable at all, I consider that being on the spot will afford me a better chance of carrying it out than I should have elsewhere.”

The smith and his companion returned. Old Miss Fawley’s fuel-house was dry, and eminently practicable; and she seemed willing to give the instrument standing-room there. It was accordingly left in the school till the evening, when more hands would be available for removing it; and the schoolmaster gave a final glance round.

The boy Jude assisted in loading some small articles, and at nine o’clock Mr. Phillotson mounted beside his box of books and other impedimenta, and bade his friends good-bye.

“I shan’t forget you, Jude,” he said, smiling, as the cart moved off. “Be a good boy, remember; and be kind to animals and birds, and read all you can. And if ever you come to Christminster remember you hunt me out for old acquaintance’ sake.”

The cart creaked across the green, and disappeared round the corner by the rectory-house. The boy returned to the draw-well at the edge of the greensward, where he had left his buckets when he went to help his patron and teacher in the loading. There was a quiver in his lip now, and after opening the well-cover to begin lowering the bucket he paused and leant with his forehead and arms against the frame-work, his face wearing the fixity of a thoughtful child’s who has felt the pricks of life somewhat before his time. The well into which he was looking was as ancient as the village itself, and from his present position appeared as a long circular perspective ending in a shining disk of quivering water at a distance of a hundred feet down. There was a lining of green moss near the top, and nearer still the hart’s-tongue fern.

He said to himself, in the melodramatic tones of a whimsical boy, that the schoolmaster had drawn at that well scores of times on a morning like this, and would never draw there any more. “I’ve seen him look down into it, when he was tired with his drawing, just as I do now, and when he rested a bit before carrying the buckets home! But he was too clever to bide here any longer—a small sleepy place like this!”

A tear rolled from his eye into the depths of the well. The morning was a little foggy, and the boy’s breathing unfurled itself as a thicker fog upon the still and heavy air. His thoughts were interrupted by a sudden outcry:

“Bring on that water, will ye, you idle young harlican!”

It came from an old woman who had emerged from her door towards the garden gate of a green-thatched cottage not far off. The boy quickly waved a signal of assent, drew the water with what was a great effort for one of his stature, landed and emptied the big bucket into his own pair of smaller ones, and pausing a moment for breath, started with them across the patch of clammy greensward whereon the well stood—nearly in the centre of the little village, or rather hamlet of Marygreen.

It was as old-fashioned as it was small, and it rested in the lap of an undulating upland adjoining the North Wessex downs. Old as it was, however, the well-shaft was probably the only relic of the local history that remained absolutely unchanged. Many of the thatched and dormered dwelling-houses had been pulled down of late years, and many trees felled on the green. Above all, the original church, humpbacked, wood-turreted, and quaintly hipped, had been taken down, and either cracked up into heaps of road-metal in the lane, or utilized as pig-sty walls, garden seats, guard-stones to fences, and rockeries in the flower-beds of the neighbourhood. In place of it a tall new building of modern Gothic design, unfamiliar to English eyes, had been erected on a new piece of ground by a certain obliterator of historic records8 who had run down from London and back in a day. The site whereon so long had stood the ancient temple to the Christian divinities was not even recorded on the green and level grass-plot that had immemorially been the churchyard, the obliterated graves being commemorated by eighteen-penny cast-iron crosses warranted to last five years.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements and Editorial Note
Introduction
A Note on the Text
Thomas Hardy: A Brief Chronology
Hardy’s Preface (1895), Revised Preface and Postscript (1912)

JUDE THE OBSCURE

Part First, At Marygreen, I-XI
Part Second, At Christminster, I-VII
Part Third, At Melchester, I-X
Part Fourth, At Shaston, I-VI
Part Fifth, At Aldbrickham and Elsewhere, I-VIII
Part Sixth, At Christminster again, I-XI

Appendix A: Major Textual Changes
Appendix B: Comments by Hardy
Appendix C: Contemporaneous Reviews and a Parody
Appendix D: Hardy’s Outlook
Appendix E: Influences and Contexts: Cultural Extracts
Appendix F: Oxford, Jowett, and Educational Opportunity
Appendix G: Divorce in Jude the Obscure
Appendix H: Map of Wessex Appended to the 1895 Edition of Jude the Obscure

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What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"The greatest tragic writer among English novelists."
-Virginia Woolf

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XXJude the Obscure (Barnes & Noble Classics Series) 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 51 reviews.
Mariamosis More than 1 year ago
Between 'Far From the Madding Crowd', 'The Mayor of Casterbridge', and 'Jude the Obscure' I am becoming a true Thomas Hardy fan!(more emphasis put on the latter two) Jude Fawley and Sue Bridehead really bring the book to life, but lurking in the background are numerous others waiting to uproot the lovers happiness. With the curious nature of Father Time and his sinister mother, Arabella, deceit is always around the corner. However, Richard Phillotson, takes a different approach to contol Sue by using his good nature and an unexpected tragedy against her. There are too many plot twists to go into too much detail, however, this book is definitely worth reading.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a very good book. Unfortunately, when Google scanned this one, their OCR software did a terrible job of translation. You're better off getting another copy elsewhere -- perhaps Project Guetenburg.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I can`t honestly say what attrached me to this book, nor why I continued to read it to the very end. The relationship between Jude and Sue is absolutely frustrating, mostly due to Sue`s capricious nature. There are times in the book during which I had the strong urge to strike her. I suppose Sue and her ideals were revolutionary in a way, but not as much as I was led to believe. Her descent in the end completely negates her earlier virtues, and I feel it was almost out of place. The character stopped being Sue. As a comment to the children being trivialized, I agree entirely. All the children, aside from Father Time, aren`t even named, so while the turning point in the characters` lives is affective, the children`s anonimity detracts from the reader`s sympathy. All in all, even though I wasn`t completely thrilled with this novel, it has some redeeming values, and I would recommend it if you had nothing better to read.
seldombites on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Like most books written in the period, Jude the Obscure does have several passages that can be difficult to wade through. However, unlike many such classics, Jude is worth the effort. This book is a bitter-sweet love story set in a time filled with conventions and behavioural expectations that could make life very difficult for those who did not conform. I highly recommend this book.
fig2 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A masterpiece of Victorian tragedy, Jude is tortured, miserable and doomed, but this beautiful novel is profoundly moving. The language is utterly gorgeous and Thomas Hardy is a peerless genius. Truly, absolutely, the best book I have ever read. You will cry.
dreamingtereza on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I am definitely in the minority here, but I believe that "Jude the Obscure" is Hardy at his best. I read all of Hardy's novels in quick succession as a teenager - I believe this was the second or third I encountered. This novel contains some of the most vividly disturbing descriptions in any work of fiction (I remember reading one particularly shocking scene over and over in an attempt to replicate my first impression.), and convincingly questions several unshakable (at least in my mind at the time) Victorian conventions. I came away from the experience with a deep appreciation for Hardy's sensibilities.
jmchshannon on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I thought I loved Thomas Hardy. He has a way with words that places the reader at the scene and brings those scenes to life for any modern reader. However, after careful reflection, I am not too certain I stand by my conviction that I like Thomas Hardy. See, he's too depressing. Most of his characters are put into unfortunate situations, find their way out for a bit and then end up worse than when the reader is first introduced to them. This holds true with Tess of the D'Urbervilles and holds true with Jude the Obscure as well.With Jude, Hardy presents the dreamer beset by reality. This is a clear sign that not all will bode well for dear Jude. As this is a general theme in Hardy's works, one has to wonder that Hardy just did not like those who dreamt of a better life and sought ways to improve themselves. It is such a negative attitude as well as the exact opposite of the American dream.One cannot mention Jude the Obscure without mentioning marriage, as this is where the novel gets all of its tension, which drives the plot forward. As it is believed that Jude the Obscure is relatively autobiographical, make no mistake that Hardy does not have a very positive view of the status of marriage. His is rather a very modern point of view in a Victorian era that is not ready for such ideas. The idea of marriage is a continual issue for Sue, which is where the reader can see the biggest conflict. In Sue, Hardy presents the dichotomy between individual values (no marriage) and society's values (marriage required). According to Hardy, one cannot coexist with the other, and a person must choose between either set of values. However, to choose against society requires a thick skin and a level of patience and/or ignorance of society's scorn - neither of which could be used to describe Sue. As for the institution itself, Hardy still is rather pessimistic. At one point in time, the narrator mentions that a truly married couple did not act affectionate but rather should yell and argue and throw furniture at each other. Both Sue and Jude marry people that repulse them, yet their love for each other is not allowed to flourish because it is not contained within the institution of marriage. The message the reader cannot help but take away from these occurrences is that love has no place in marriage. Interesting, no?Hardy's discussion of children is just as depressing. There is much talk about whether children would be better off never having been born if they are to be born into a poor family. "'I think that whenever children be born that are not wanted they should be killed directly, before their souls come to 'em, and not allowed to grow big and walk about!'" (pg. 355) This begs the question whether Hardy is trying to tell us that Jude was essentially doomed to a life of suffering from the moment he was born. Either way, it is a powerful statement, about an issue that has been an ongoing, and passionate debate for years. All of these issues leads to a very dark, morose novel. I struggled to get behind the characters, as Sue drove me insane with her waffling and inability to make a decision and stick with it, and Jude was not forceful enough. I kept waiting for the moment for Jude to stand up for his beliefs and his happiness. Rather, he sits back and accepts everything that happens to him, without making an effort to change it for his own benefit. It wasn't that Jude lacked backbone; he just lacked a desire to stand and fight. I remained disappointed with Jude and distracted by Sue throughout the novel, even while I kept hoping that either character would change. Neither one did.Overall, I cannot say that I truly enjoyed Jude the Obscure, but I did glean a bit more about life in Victorian England for the desolate and downtrodden. Having to leave one town for another when the work ran out, having to past muster with a potential landlord just to rent a room, living in such small towns that were geographically close
joririchardson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Of all the classic European authors, Thomas Hardy is my favorite. I just love his themes of despair and bitter social commentary. "Jude the Obscure" was the last book that he ever wrote, and it was received with such controversy and scandal that he decided to write only poetry afterward.It is the story of Jude Fawley, a studious and intelligent young man who aspires to become a scholar, a writer, and a professor. Instead of running and playing with his peers, he spends his time reading, and he teaches himself Greek and Latin. (How could I not love him?) However, his organized plans are interrupted when his sweetheart, Arabella, announces that she is pregnant. Compelled to do the honorable thing, Jude marries her at once. But upon finding that Arabella has tricked him into wedlock, the two fall into disagreement and part ways. After this, Jude becomes aware of the existence of a cousin of his named Sue, and after seeking her out, falls deeply in love with her. But before he has a chance to reveal his feelings, she agrees to marry another man. She and Jude begin a long affair together, always mindful of the words that Jude's aunt so sternly warned him, that their families were not made for marriage, and their unions were fated to meet an unlucky end."Jude" is typical Hardy, and his writing is at its best here. It is the culmination of his success and progress as a writer, and if you have read other books of his, it makes it even easier to see how strong this last one is. His invented English region of Wessex is a very real place that Hardy brings to life seemingly effortlessly. By now, I would imagine that he knows his Wessex inside and out, and no longer has to think up new details about it, as he already knows them all. It seemed very natural, and I loved the focus on Christminster (based on Oxford) as a sort of dreamy paragon of aspiration to Jude, one that is always in reach but never attainable. Jude travels around the Wessex area quite a lot in the book, so we get to see quite a few different towns and cities. It made looking at the familiar map of Wessex on the first pages even more interesting.I loved our hero, Jude. From the beginning, he shows himself to be a thoughtful, bright, and good-hearted young boy. He is, perhaps, a bit too good, and ultimately it ruins him. A foreshadowing of this is in the first couple pages of the book, when as a child he is hired to scare birds off the grain fields by throwing stones at them. But Jude is so tender that he cannot bear to see a rock hit one of the birds, and imagines them hungry, so he lets them eat the grain. He is promptly fired, and his crusty aunt scolds him exasperatedly "If ye can't skeer birds, what can ye do?"His strong sense of honor and morality (perhaps developed due to reading so many books about dashing heroes?) also begin and set in motion the long series of events concerning women, love, and marriage that are to take up most of his disappointing life.He forces himself to marry Arabella after she tells him she is pregnant, even though he acknowledges that it ruins all his dreams, and he knows she is "not worth a great deal as a specimen of womankind."Later, his attention and concern for womanly sensitivity prevent him from telling Sue of his feelings for her, and once she announces that she is engaged, Jude politely congratulates her rather than speaking his mind.I liked Jude very much, and I loved his scholarly attitude toward things. I kept hoping that things would work out for him in the end - that he would have a true, happy marriage and fulfill his dream of being a learned professor. But the further the book goes, the more sharply we see how unlikely this is.Sue Bridehead, the most prominent and memorable of the female characters, was the only woman that Jude ever truly loved. From the first time he sees her, he is fascinated by her. Unlike many women of her time, Sue is worldly and well read, and she makes a living off teaching jobs. She and Jude have many
Rue_full on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
If you have ever felt that it is all for naught - then read Hardy; he's in your corner. Take that, all you Pollyanna's! Existentialists know in our darkest hearts that we could all be Jude, the Obscure. That in many ways we ARE Jude, the Obscure. The romance between Jude and Sue reminds me of fan fiction for Moulin Rouge played out to it's terrible, not so Spectacular Spectacular end... they turn to drink, they are mean, they are alone. Why was it not enough for them to love, and be loved in return? SPOILER*** after the tragedy that did befall their family, I'm not sure that I could have managed to go on at all. We read these novels and comfort ourselves that at least we're not yet on our deathbed, asking for water. EMO[IMO] young people should be encouraged to read all Hardy's work - in fact, publishing houses - might I suggest for a new paperback run a cover with black eyed, scary scrawny youths in drab garb clutching each other against a menacing cathedral. I would buy it - again.
HankIII on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the kind of book that spans the critical reader's spectrum: from a total and complete loathing of the novel to recognizing it as a masterful writing work of a literary genius. Yes, it's terribly depressing, and it doesn't pull any punches with reality itself. It's not a Victorian gala affair, nor is it a Dickensian ending. Hardy possesses a great voice for narration, and an even better voice for description and characterization:A powerful novel that still resonates 12 years later after I read it. I still haven't got the initiative to read it again. I still remember the ending. WOW!
bookworm12 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As a young boy, Jude Fawley reads everything he can get his hands on and dreams of going to college. He¿s an orphan living in the English countryside yearning to move to Christminster (based on Oxford). When he finally gets the opportunity to begin to make his way in the world he meets a saucy milkmaid, Arabella, and is lured away from his goals. Jude¿s true love is his cousin Sue Bridehead, who shares his passion for intellectual pursuits. Unfortunately their timing always seems off. When he¿s tied to Arabella, Sue is free and when he¿s free, Sue is tied to a school teacher named Phillotson. Jude is such a tragic character. His every effort to attain a happy life seems to be thwarted by things that are out of his control. The tragedy seems unavoidable even when you¿re hoping the characters make different decisions. Without Hardy¿s beautiful writing this book would be unreadable because it¿s so depressing, but he makes it enthralling. In some ways it reminded me of a more likeable version of Wuthering Heights. The same premise of two souls made of the same stuff, but both ill-matched in marriages and kept apart. Only in Jude there¿s no crazy, selfish character and in Wuthering Heights there¿s less religion. One of the novel¿s main themes is marriage. The characters are constantly at odds with the union, which surprised me because it was published in 1895. I¿m sure the book caused quite a stir when it first came out. This was my first foray into Thomas Hardy and from what I¿ve heard his other books have similar themes. This one was hard to rate, because though I loved the writing, the story leaves you aching for Jude and wishing you could have made his life better. So it¿s not a book I feel like I loved. I will definitely read more of his work, (I¿ve got Tess of the D¿Ubervilles and Far From the Madding Crowd on my TBR list), but I may have to wait a bit before diving into another heartbreaker.
stephxsu on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Wow, Thomas Hardy, I thought you were alright after Tess of the d'Ubervilles. A little depressing, perhaps, but not too badly written. However, Jude the Obscure is just...can I get my six hours back, please? Sue and Arabella are quite possibly the two worst females in the whole field of literature. They are pushy, flighty, and utterly selfish. Instead of pitying Jude, however, I just want to kick his butt for always being pushed around by them.My problem in this wasn't with the writing or the depressing attitude, but in the characters themselves. I simply cannot stand reading about purely selfish people who think they're blameless and actually the victim, much like I can't stand interacting with these people in real life.
Luli81 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Duty or freedom? Marriage or passion? Faith or despair? A book full of contrasts, it marked a deep change at the time.
jayne_charles on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Typical Hardy - full of sex (minus the descriptions of course) and some desperate sadness. I like the way he doesn't find it necessary to have everyone living happily ever after by the end of the book.
pallavi11 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Jude the Obscure is Hardy's masterpiece. As in, the work an apprentice submits to prove that he is now good enough become a master. There is no other way to read this polemic against church, marriage and higher education. It is coming-out-of-the-closet, showing-his-colours, rest-on-his-laurels masterpiece. And though it was recieved with more brickbats than laurels, he did rest on it, and never wrote any other novel after this. Once you read this book, you realize why. There was nothing more to say. He has said it all.And said it well. Not even once does this book drag, there are no paragraphs spanning pages and pages. In a book which is meant to decry everything that was wrong- and indeed is still wrong- with society, there are no 4 page speeches to skip. Hardy's characters show, and do not tell. His working class, self taught hero never gets into Oxford, and his 'luminously' intelligent lover doesn't even think of it- you don't need speeches about stultified education after that. And Hardy manages to depict bad marriages between essentially good people, without demonizing anyone, and even Arabella is treated with more kindness that she can expect from a novel like this- which is about all that is fine in humanity, storybook fine, that is. Not practical, cheerful, cut-your-lossses-and-move-on there-is-a-life-to-be-lived fine, the way Arabella is.Sue Bridehead on the other hand, is certainly not practical, whatever else she might be. In fact, she is more than a character, she is a compilation of the reasons this novel exists. She is the mouthpiece for Hardy's views on all that is holy, she is the mirror he holds up to reflect society's hypocrisy, she is every bit a dream lover, and her impracticality is the only justification we get for the rather flimsy plot.This pretty lady almost certainly drives three men to early graves, but even then, I suppose that if you had to look for a lover in Victorian literature, she would be a much better option than, say, Elizabeth Bennett. One, ten minutes with her will perhaps be more interesting than any amount of time with Miss Elizabeth, who is actually not all that uninteresting herself, and two, she lives in a world where sex exists. I read somewhere that Sue is among literature's first feminists, and indeed, she is one of the greatest heroines of literature. She has the burden of carrying the novel on her slim shoulders, and she manages it with grace, though it proves too much for her in the end.
Carmenere on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Jude Fawley is a kind, gentle and at times gullible young man. His is the story of a man's struggle to realize his dream by furthering his education to become a minister. "He considered that he might so mark out his coming years as to begin his ministry at the age of thirty - an age which much attracted him as being that of his exemplar when he first began to teach in Galilee." But Jude is torn between two women, the one he loves and the one to which he is married. Both are responsible for his complete downfall. He desires to do what is right in the eyes of the church and society but that is in direct contrast to the beliefs of his lover, Sue Bridehead, a woman 50 years ahead of her time. Through tragedy, Sue turns to the church while Jude turns away. Jude's desire to do right is now Sue's to the extent that she's become fanatical. Sue believes that in order to save her soul she must leave the man she loves.Hardy's last novel is long, tedious and wordy yet the love quadrangle needs to be rectified so one plods on. I have found Hardy to be a very forward thinking man who's many thoughts in this book have come to fruition. He delves into subject matter that was, no doubt, shocking for his time. I am certainly happy to have read Jude the Obscure and thought it a fascinating study of humanity in the late 19th century but it's certainly not for everyone. If you have enjoyed Hardy in the past and know what to expect from him I would recommend this one.
C.Vick on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Tess has to be one of my favorite novels of all time. I devoured it. Devoured Far From the Madding Crowd after that and you can just imagine how much I was looking forward to Jude."The masterpiece," I was told. "Classic!" "Like Tess, only better!"Imagine my horror when going through my LibraryThing account looking for books to tag, star, and review, when I can across Jude and realized I had forgotten I was reading it.Sure, sometimes I'll be reading one book, and one that has more claims on my time will come along (obligated to read and review, has holds on it at the library), but I don't think I've ever put a book down before, and simply forgotten about it.And that pretty much sums up the problems I had with Jude. Maybe the ending is magnificent, but the middle is so dreadfully dull that it is awfully hard to get to. I don't mean it is bad, I just mean it is, well, forgettable. If you want to read a good Hardy novel of self-destruction, I'm afraid I'm still going to have to recommend Tess.
MeditationesMartini on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Jude the obtuse. Jude the feckless. Jude the petty. Jude the wet. If ,Far from the Madding Crowd is essentially anachronistic, and Tess very much of its moment, this book is kind of about what happens when those worlds come screeching together - like, in idyllic no-madding Wessex Jude and Arabella would have stuck by one another and he would have found his dream, and in a putative Sue she would have been the heroine and been spit out with all her stupid Greeks, but this is neither fantasy or cautionary tale - Hardy seems to be trying to be real with us, but he doesn't know what real is and ends up with characters that oscillate between purple harlequin-romance prose and clumsy sensationalism (he actually seems to seriously for real be arguing that Jude was brought low by drink, and that it was up to the women to stop him). Everybody in this book is a pointless waste sleepwaling their way through life, though, and I guess it's real and contemporary in that sense. Everybody comes out bad, but the women have to take responsibility for the men as well as themselves, and that allows the men to come out somewhat better, and that troubles me. Ugh, Victoria England!
meggyweg on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Midway through this, I called my boyfriend, who has an English lit degree, and asked, "Um, besides all the spouse-swapping, is anything actually going to happen in this book?" He laughed and said, "Trust me. Something's going to happen."Something did.I finished the book at 3:00 a.m. and couldn't sleep all night. I staggered down to breakfast and sat in the cafeteria with such a traumatized expression that several friends asked me what had happened. Thomas Hardy happened, that's what. Little Father Time happened.
jillianmarie on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
My favorite book in the whole world, with the most realistic moral to any book life is rubbish and then it's just going to get much moch worse!
jd234512 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Hardy, why must you always do this. If you're looking for an optimistic book to keep you happy then you're in the wrong place. The characters in this are so painful, but they make you feel in a way that other writers can't accomplish. This is most definitely a book that stays with you afterward and forces you to wrestle with what is presented.
edwardhenry on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I've avoided Thomas Hardy for most of my life: first from ignorance, then on the advice of a few friends whose taste I trust. Then I read an inspirational article in the TLS this summer, on the relationship -- both personal and working -- between Hardy and Henry Ibsen, which directed me towards Jude the Obscure. The description I found there led me to hope that the novel's themes (anticlericism, the emerging modern person, etc) would be right up my alley. So I took the dive.I wish I hadn't. The themes I was looking for are present in this novel, but Hardy's breathless, exuberant style was hard to handle. The first half of the book wasn't great, but I knew the good stuff -- Jude's relationship with Sue and their struggle with the external world -- was yet to come. It came, and kept coming until the book's final pages, but Hardy's overbearing style (especially the dialog) made the final 200 pages, which should have been deeply tragic, a chore to read. I truly wanted this novel to be good, even great, but unfortunately that was not the case.Sorry, Hardy: I've had enough of you, and won't try again, unless I have no choice.
williamcostiganjr on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Encompasses Hardy's flaws and strengths. The narrator is phlegmatic and almost stilted, but somehow enjoyable to "listen" to. The plot has Hardy's hallmarks--the past coming back incessantly to haunt you, incredible coincidences, and forgotten individuals returning to the main character's life at key points.One key problem I had was that I don't think Jude's love for his cousin was ever properly explained. I could not figure out his infatuation with her.I don't know what it is about Hardy, because his plots are absurd, the writing does not seem particularly impressive, but somehow I find him fun and readable. This is the second one I've read by him, and would not hesitate to try another.
HagbardCeline on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This picture of an ordinary life in the 19th centuary was extremely contreversial when first published. The story concerns a rural man trying to better himself and become some more than he was born as. Despite his best efforts this leads to tragedy. A totally compelling tale beautifully set with much to say about class - many comparisions can stil be drawn with the present day.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago