Thursday, January 7, 2016

(Review) Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy

Publication Date: 1999. A magazine series in 1894. First published in book form 1895.
Publisher: Signet Classic.
Genre: Classic literature, fiction.
Pages: 448.
Source: Self-purchase.
Rating: 4 stars for very good.

Amazon .99 cents for the Kindle.

Free @ Project Gutenberg

According to the The Guardian, Jude the Obscure is number 29 on the top 100 list.

Thomas Hardy, 1840-1928. 
Summary:
Victorian era, 19th century.
Jude Fawley is an eleven year old boy living with his "crusty maiden aunt." They live in (fictional) Marygreen, North Wessex, England. As a youth, Jude is fixated on higher education. He dreams of knowledge and career beyond menial labor in a small town. At age 19, Jude met cold and calculating Arabella Donn. Whereas Jude seeks to escape his common world through education, Arabella seeks to escape her common world through a man. In an unwise decision, Jude become entangled in Arabella's teasing embrace.
Jude the Obscure is not a happy novel. It's a sad view of the destruction of people's lives caused by selfish gain, religious toxicity, miscommunication, poverty, exclusion, and despair.

My Thoughts:
I loved this story. Not a five star excellent type of love, but 4 stars for very good.
I can relate to Jude. I have empathy and sympathy for his plight. I too made unwise decisions as a youth, life altering decisions.
It's easy to be a reader who judges characters without thinking about our own past poor judgment; and we might even pass up a book, because book characters can prick our heart and make us squirm.
I love fictional characters, because they bring me out of my small world and into another world, which maybe reminiscent of my world, or perhaps another world all together, either way I can learn, grow, and see life through a different lens. I feel this is one of the marvelous aspects of fiction stories.
On page 25 there is a quote which stood out to me. I feel it is a story theme.
"The tree of knowledge grows there." 
In the book of Genesis, and in the middle of the Garden, "were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil."
I have learned that knowledge without wisdom is going to cause heartache and strife. Jude sought knowledge but what he needed was wisdom.
Jude needed a mentor, a strong father or brother who could take him aside and speak to him about life and relationships. As a result of not having strong guidance, he struggles, guesses, and flounders. (However, even people who have strong guidance sometimes make poor judgment.)
The two female leads in the story are Arabella Donn and Sue Bridehead. The women are as different as night and day. One is part fox and part spider. The other struggles with sexual hang-ups, and vacillates between sensuous feelings and sexual revulsion.
The intermingled relationships between Jude, Arabella, and Sue cause trouble in the towns they live in and with employment. The time period is the Victorian age. People did not divorce or live together without gossip and ostracizing. The consenting adults suffered as well as their children.
Jude the Obscure is the last novel Thomas Hardy wrote. He received criticism for the (so called) filth of the story-line. Hardy focused on writing poetry. He is considered one of the great 20th century poets.

I have a book of poetry by Thomas Hardy that I've decided to re-read.
The Essential Hardy Selected by Joseph Brodsky.




3 comments:

  1. Loved your thoughts on this book, Annette. Just wondering if you've read Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbervilles & how it compares to this one?

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  2. Great review! I've always heard this is a difficult book and I haven't yet read it. I loved Hardy's Tess of the D'Ubervilles and hope to read a couple more of his books for the Classics Club in the upcoming years.

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  3. i've got a copy of this; i guess i''l have to read it because of the bad choices i made when young... i've read several of Hardy's works and enjoyed them. we'll see if he maintains his sense of humor in this one. my guess is probably not...

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