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Jude the Obscure (1895)

by Thomas Hardy

Other authors: Fanny William Laparra (Translator)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
10,248141727 (3.87)2 / 507
Classic Literature. Fiction. HTML:

Thomas Hardy's final novel Jude the Obscure explores notions of class, religion, marriage and modernization through its protagonist Jude Fawley, a working-class man who dreams of being a scholar. Provocative and daring for its day, the book was burnt publicly by the Bishop of Wakefield when it was published in 1895.

.… (more)
  1. 70
    Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy (Booksloth)
  2. 41
    The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot (Booksloth)
  3. 20
    On the Slow Train: Twelve Great British Railway Journeys by Michael Williams (John_Vaughan)
    John_Vaughan: A train journey through "Hardy Country".
  4. 21
    Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy (Booksloth)
  5. 21
    The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy (John_Vaughan)
  6. 10
    The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë (Lapsus_Linguae)
    Lapsus_Linguae: Both stories feature a failed marriage and social ostracism. Both were considered "immoral" when published. Both criticize the institution of marriage in their own way. Anne Bronte and Thomas Hardy have many similar topics in their novels.
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    Women in Love by D. H. Lawrence (John_Vaughan)
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» See also 507 mentions

English (132)  Catalan (3)  Spanish (2)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Dutch (1)  French (1)  All languages (140)
Showing 1-5 of 132 (next | show all)
He should have remained obscure. No, seriously, as a story, it was pretty horrid. a young man's hopes and dreams are stymied one by one. As a statement on matrimony and contemporary mores, I get it.

"And so... the two swore that at every other time of their lives till death took them, they would assuredly believe, feel, and desire precisely as they had believed, felt, and desired during the preceding few weeks. What was remarkable as the undertaking itself was the fact that nobody seemed at all surprised at what they swore."

In various ways, the story aimed to show the ludicrousness of this entire situation. ( )
  Tytania | Feb 23, 2024 |
Not since A Farewell to Arms has a scene so twisted my heart as Thomas Hardy has with this little volume concerning the various ails of countryside morality. If one is able to contend with a few hundred pages of tergiversation concerning duelling, yet in of themselves null and void, marriages - that for me did get a little tiring after a while, but each to their own - and view the bickering and frequent flights from one dead marriage to the other as moments within some grand tragic orchestra swelling toward a crescendo of quotidian nineteenth century misery and death then yes.... you might just get a kick out of Jude the Obscure. ( )
  theoaustin | Dec 26, 2023 |
The perfect romantic classic for anyone who ever married the wrong person. Full of angst, regret, and longing for the 'right one'. Marriages were not so easily undone a century ago, and falling in love with a distant cousin was more frowned upon while children out of wedlock was forbidden. Jude must cross all of these lines if he is to have any chance at happiness, and the consequences in his time and place will be dire. Skip the final section and imagine your own happily ever after, if you prefer.

I tried other works by Hardy in university - Tess, Casterbridge - and felt disgust with what I felt was a worldview centered on humanity's helplessness when bad luck is ready to strike. Add thirty years and some life experience, and now I can appreciate how even the most carefully laid plans really can be hurled into disarray. The romance between Jude and Sue is moving and sweetly expressed ("But I jumped out the window!"), the many obstacles and complications painful. I'm not completely convinced the social mores are their entire downfall. These could have been got around except that the bad luck I bemoaned is again a factor, and my other school years gripe is still true to a degree: their decisions are not always top shelf. I'm more willing now to accept those as plot devices rather than worldview and admit that they would not have been so set up for a fall without everyone's frowning upon them.

A better read with more likeable characters than I was braced for. A harsh finale and bitter message for anyone who has to face down a majority's opinion, and an admonishment for that majority to practice more tolerance. ( )
  Cecrow | Aug 5, 2023 |
This was my first introduction to Hardy, it will definitely not be the last. What stands out is Hardy's addressing modern issues. What makes a marriage? Does it require religious certification, civil recognition, consummation, or is the relation between two people the real issue? This book makes one think deeply about what's important. While it does not address the same sex issue which has been a focus most recently, and it does not dwell on another contentious aspect, the prohibition of cousin marrying cousin it does question their relationship.

The cousins involved are Jude Fawley and Sue Bridehead. Their family provides them with no role models of successful families. He's a country boy who is more interested in reading than social interactions. He aspires to the life of a scholar and learns to read the classics in the original Greek and Latin. Unfortunately he's sidetracked by a young woman who tricks him in to an early marriage, falsely claiming pregnancy before abandoning him for Australia without letting him know she's become pregnant. After a few years delay attempting to become a farmer he resumes his quest to become a scholar and moves to Christminster. Sue has moved from London to Christminister. She's a beautiful free thinker who seeks him out and they immediately become close friends. She loses both her job and her place in a girls school and turns to Jude in desperation. Knowing she is qualified to become a teacher Jude gets her a position as an assistant to his former teacher, Mr. Phillotson. That's where things go wrong for her. She agrees to marry Phillotson but quickly realizes she can not stand him. She abandons Phillotson with his consent. Jude gets rejected by the Masters of the Colleges in Christminster ending his aspiration to become a scholar. Eventually he decides to reject academia and sets his lowered sights on a lay religious position. They turn to each other to make their way through these reduced circumstances. Jude at least is an accomplished stone mason and is able to provide some support as he restores Churches.

Their relationship deepens and they admit to each other that they love each other but circumstances prevent them from actually marrying and become husband and wife in the eyes of both the Church and the State. They both seek and eventually receive divorces but they are still reluctant. She is not inclined to proceed to sexual relations and yet she is very aware that people disapprove of their living together and they move from city to city to avoid both perceived and real disapproval. They go through everything needed to wed, schedule a date but at the last minute she can't go through with it. He remains supportive and understanding. At one point his former wife appears and wants to meet. This frightens Sue to the point where she agrees finally to consummate their relationship. They have two children but Jude's former wife reappears and this time lets him know he has a son which she is no longer able to keep and asks Jude to accept the son he's never known. The son has clearly been abused and is exceedingly withdrawn and unresponsive.

Here is where the story takes a very dark and unexpected turn. When they are asked to leave because they have children and are unmarried the son decides he would be helping if there were no children and when the mother is out kills himself and the other children. Sue is totally distraught and decides this must be God's way of punishing them for living in sin. She decides she has to abandon Jude and remarry Phillotson. When Jude persists in trying to bring her back to her senses she reacts by deciding to consummate her marriage to Phillotson. All this brings us to ask wasn't her relationship with Jude a real marriage? And why didn't Hardy title this Sue the Confused?

I found buried on YouTube a 1996 Polygram film with Kate Winslet as Sue. It's a faithful adaption of this book with a few important exceptions. It does shorten the tale by eliminating some less important parts. One bothersome omission is any mention of divorce which was an important aspect of the book. More important was turning what I would have expected to be a PG rated story into an R rated film. In the book Jude and Sue sleep in separate rooms which underscores her reluctance in advancing to a sexual relationship. In the movie they are sleeping together but the dialogue underscores the platonic nature so far. In the book at the moment Sue decides to consummate their relationship it is handled with minimal description. In the movie Sue pulls back the sheets and seduces Jude with full frontal nudity. That's when I understood how this got an R rating. ( )
  Ed_Schneider | Aug 4, 2023 |
Hardy called this novel Jude the Obscure. If you ask me, he should have called it Jude the Looser. Jude has two women in his life and both of them make an absolute fool of him. And to make matters worse, neither one of them is even close to being worth it. The book often seemed like a modern day soap opera but to its credit, the book also acts an interesting look into the very, very strange institution of marriage as practiced in 19th century England. ( )
  kevinkevbo | Jul 14, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 132 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (58 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hardy, ThomasAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Laparra, Fanny WilliamTranslatorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bayley, JohnIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brown, RosellenIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cecchi D'Amico, SusoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dàuli, GianTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Faria, Otávio deTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Franco, MariaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Galindo, Caetano W.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hynes, SamuelIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Κράλλη, ΜαρίαTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jaloux, EdmondPrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Luciani, GiovanniTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Miliūnienė, KristinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Miller, J. HillisIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Monzó, QuimTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nascimento, Cabral doTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Parker, Agnes MillerIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Reddick, PeterIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Roz, FirminTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schumann, EvaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Storm, ArieTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thorne, StephenNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Torres Oliver, FranciscoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Watts, Cedric ThomasEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"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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Classic Literature. Fiction. HTML:

Thomas Hardy's final novel Jude the Obscure explores notions of class, religion, marriage and modernization through its protagonist Jude Fawley, a working-class man who dreams of being a scholar. Provocative and daring for its day, the book was burnt publicly by the Bishop of Wakefield when it was published in 1895.

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