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Jude the Obscure (1895)

by Thomas Hardy

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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8,807117650 (3.87)2 / 456
Jude the Obscure tells the story of a stonemason, tricked into a loveless marriage, who craves a formal education and a finer existence. Separated from his wife, Jude begins a new life with his cousin, and the couple defies social convention at every turn.
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English (111)  Catalan (2)  French (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (116)
Showing 1-5 of 111 (next | show all)
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. ( )
  bookworm12 | Dec 20, 2020 |
Jude the Obscure is the last of Thomas Hardy’s novels. Its hero Jude Fawley is a lower-class young man who dreams of becoming a scholar. The two other main characters are his earthy wife, Arabella, and his intellectual cousin, Sue. Themes include class, scholarship, religion, marriage, and the modernization of thought and society.

In two parts on Lenovo and in Groove Music.
  Gmomaj | Oct 5, 2020 |
This is a novel of despair. It paints a sad picture of a young man with a dream and what happens when that dream dies. Because of class, marriage, etc. because of circumstances Jude's hopes of a university education are crushed. The reaction to Thomas Hardy's last novel was fierce and swift. The book was banned, ostracized, and in a few cases burned. Hardy never wrote another novel, switching his focus to poetry. ( )
  Steve_Walker | Sep 13, 2020 |
Jude is definitely the most complex character Hardy puts into any of his novels (at least, any of his novels I've read to date). A smart, ambitious, hard-working man, Jude's virtues make him a hero you can't help admiring. This makes his long, slow decline to a tragic end all the more heartbreaking. But, each step in his path toward doom feels authentic. He falls in love with the wrong woman because he's young and foolish. He fails to get into college because he's poor and can't afford the tuition, and can't compete for a scholarship against wealthier young men who've had the advantage of tutors and guidance, in contrast to his self taught education. He's a man who stuffs his head with knowledge, but who makes his living as a stonecutter, and the contrast between all his beautiful knowledge and the grinding hardship of his daily labor increasingly becomes unbearable.

The book felt relevant and timely to me. We live in an era of seemingly equal opportunities, but wealth and poverty continue to have an overwhelming grip on people's abilities to take advantage of these opportunities. Hardy was aware--and angry--that an intelligent, hard-working, honest man would be barred by his poverty from rising in the world. Hardy is also plainly angry at the morality of his day, the fact that the world would judge so harshly people who fell in love but didn't choose to shackle that love in the chains of marriage.

I should say that, by the end of the book, I felt as if Hardy had stacked the deck a bit too much against Jude. It would have been too much to ask for a happy ending for the character, but Hardy seems to twist the knife by having Jude's wife leave him dead in his bed to go out and immediately start flirting with other men who might support her. Still, I put the book down feeling as if I'd read something important and truthful, and I can think of no better compliment to give this book. ( )
  James_Maxey | Jun 29, 2020 |
Nobody turns a phrase like Hardy. The man has a true gift with language. As for the story, a lot is to be desired. That is not to say I don't appreciate what Hardy is doing. To perhaps a very large extent he is indicting religion by pitting faith against reason, sentiment against logic, the church against the human mind, dogma against the soul's inclination toward self-exploration. Suicide and martyrdom remain constant threads through the novel, threads I haven't quite studied enough to understand fully. And Sue: Is she an inconsistent, impetuous child? Or an example of what happens when the human spirit is stifled by the institution? She is, on one hand, the most exasperating character I have ever encountered in literature and, on the other, one with whom I completely identify. ( )
  BeauxArts79 | Jun 2, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 111 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (151 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Thomas Hardyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bayley, JohnIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brown, RosellenIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hynes, SamuelIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Luciani, GiovanniTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Miller, J. HillisIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Monzó, QuimTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Parker, Agnes MillerIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Reddick, PeterIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sisson, C. H.Contributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sisson, C. H.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sisson, C. H.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thorne, StephenNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Watts, Cedric ThomasEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Jude (1996IMDb)
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Epigraph
"The letter killeth"
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The schoolmaster was leaving the village, and everybody seemed sorry.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Jude the Obscure tells the story of a stonemason, tricked into a loveless marriage, who craves a formal education and a finer existence. Separated from his wife, Jude begins a new life with his cousin, and the couple defies social convention at every turn.

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Average: (3.87)
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Penguin Australia

3 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140435387, 0141028890, 0141199830

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