Jude the Obscure

Front Cover
Penguin Books Limited, 1998 - Fiction - 484 pages
52 Reviews

Thomas Hardy's last novel, Jude the Obscure is a fearless exploration of the hypocrisy of Victorian society, edited with an introduction by Dennis Taylor in Penguin Classics.

Jude Fawley's hopes of an education at Christminster university are dashed when he is trapped into marrying the wild, earthy Arabella, who later abandons him. Moving to Christminster to work as a stonemason, Jude meets and falls in love with his cousin Sue Bridehead, a sensitive, freethinking 'New Woman'. Refusing to marry merely for the sake of religious convention, Jude and Sue decide instead to live together, but they are shunned by society, and poverty soon threatens to ruin them. Jude the Obscure, with its fearless and challenging exploration of class and sexual relationships, caused a public furore when it was first published and marked the end of Hardy's career as a novelist.

This edition uses the unbowdlerized first-volume text of 1895, and includes a list for further reading, appendices and a glossary. In his introduction, Dennis Taylor examines biblical allusions and the critique of religion in Jude the Obscure, and its critical reception that led Hardy to abandon novel writing.

Thomas Hardy (1840-1928), born Higher Brockhampton, near Dorchester. Though he saw himself primarily as a poet, Hardy was the author of some of the late eighteenth century's major novels: The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886), Tess of the D'Urbervilles (1891), Far from the Madding Crowd (1874), and Jude the Obscure (1895). Amidst the controversy caused by Jude the Obscure, he turned to the poetry he had been writing all his life. In the next thirty years he published over nine hundred poems and his epic drama in verse, The Dynasts.

If you enjoyed Jude the Obscure, you might also like Thomas Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbervilles, also available in Penguin Classics.

'Visceral, passionate, anti-hypocrisy, anti-repression ... Hardy reaches into our wildest recesses'
Evening Standard

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - m.belljackson - www.librarything.com

Thomas Hardy first gives readers an admirable Jude, his dreams set on becoming a Christminster scholar. Next follows a set of unusual marriages, a horrific tragedy, and the interminable resultant ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - PhilSyphe - www.librarything.com

With all the hype surrounding “Jude the Obscure”, I had high hopes, though sadly my hopes weren’t realised. I prefer some of Hardy’s lesser-known tomes to this one. I enjoyed parts of this novel, but ... Read full review

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References to this book

The Flesh Made Word
Helena Michie
Limited preview - 1990
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About the author (1998)

Thomas Hardy was born on June 2, 1840. In his writing, he immortalized the site of his birth—Egdon Heath, in Dorset, near Dorchester. Delicate as a child, he was taught at home by his mother before he attended grammar school. At sixteen, Hardy was apprenticed to an architect, and for many years, architecture was his profession; in his spare time, he pursued his first and last literary love, poetry. Finally convinced that he could earn his living as an author, he retired from architecture, married, and devoted himself to writing. An extremely productive novelist, Hardy published an important book every year or two. In 1896, disturbed by the public outcry over the unconventional subjects of his two greatest novels—Tess of the D'Urbervilles and Jude the Obscure—he announced that he was giving up fiction and afterward produced only poetry. In later years, he received many honors. He died on January 11, 1928, and was buried in Poet's Corner, in Westminster Abbey. It was as a poet that he wished to be remembered, but today critics regard his novels as his most memorable contribution to English literature for their psychological insight, decisive delineation of character, and profound presentation of tragedy.

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