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Jude the Obscure Paperback – Sep 1 1998

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reprint edition (Sept. 1 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140435387
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140435382
  • Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 2.3 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 340 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (101 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #336,202 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

From Library Journal

Jude the Obscure created storms of scandal and protest for the author upon its publication. Hardy, disgusted and disappointed, devoted the remainder of his life to poetry and never wrote another novel. Today, the material is far less shocking. Jude Fawley, a poor stone carver with aspirations toward an academic career, is thwarted at every turn and is finally forced to give up his dreams of a university education. He is tricked into an unwise marriage, and when his wife deserts him, he begins a relationship with a free-spirited cousin. With this begins the descent into bleak tragedy as the couple alternately defy and succumb to the pressures of a deeply disapproving society. Hardy's characters have a fascinating ambiguity: they are victimized by a stern moral code, but they are also selfish and weak-willed creatures who bring on much of their own difficulties through their own vacillations and submissions to impulse. The abridgment speeds Jude's fall to considerable dramatic effect, but it also deletes the author's agonizing logic. Instead of the meticulous weaving of Jude's destiny, we get a somewhat incoherent summary that preserves the major plot points but fails to draw us into the tragedy. Michael Pennington reads resonantly and skillfully, his voice perfectly matching the grim music of Hardy's prose, but this recording can only be recommended for larger public libraries.
-John Owen, Advanced Micro Devices, Sunnyvale, CA
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.


'His style touches sublimity'
—T.S. Eliot

'The greatest tragic writer among English novelists'
—Virginia Woolf

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

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By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on July 30 2010
Format: Audio CD
"For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish." -- Galatians 5:17 (NKJV)

I always avoided Jude the Obscure, largely due to its title that just doesn't appeal to me (although I like it better now after understanding its references). But with several long driving trips planned, I thought it would be worth giving it a shot with the unabridged CDs narrated by Jenny Sterlin for Recorded Books. I am happy I made that choice. I'm not sure I would have been able to finish reading the book, with its painful portrayals of how Jude Fawley and his cousin, Sue, struggle with trying to overcome the flesh to live spiritual lives. The morality that Thomas Hardy portrays isn't quite that simple, suggesting that perhaps the road to happiness includes more fleshly satisfactions than those who are committed to living in the spirit might enjoy. Ms. Sterlin's reading kept those conflicts fresher and more interesting for me than the printed page would have done.

I found the book much more appealing in the beginning as Jude explored his dream of becoming a learned man . . . up until the time he met the manipulative flirt, Arabella.

From then on, I found myself instead admiring the astonishing plot design more than I was immersed in feeling as though I identified with the characters or was attracted by Thomas Hardy's philosophies.

Should you decide that Jude the Obscure is a must for your reading list, do yourself a favor and enjoy this reading.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Having said that, I think reading Jude the Obscure was a worthwhile experience.
It concerns the young man Jude, stonemason by trade, who dreams of a university education. His hopes and dreams are high at the beginning of the novel. But a series of events ensures that life does not have happiness in store for him. His academic aspirations are thwarted, he marries a vain girl in a moment of lust, and watches his real love - Sue - marry another. When he finally gives everything up, job security, social respect, his ambitions, to live with Sue "in sin", there is a brief, uncertain ray of happiness on them before tragedy stikes again.
The emotions I went through while reading Jude's journey and ultimate disappointment in life were intense. I felt despair, sadness, shock, and was ultimately left feeling quite bitter about his plight. BUT, I enjoy reading books that wrench out your heart and make you feel deep emotion, whether happy or not. Few books do that well in my opinion. That fact that Jude the Obscure did that for me, even though the emotions were negative, was the reason I gave it 5 stars.
If you don't like being depressed by what you read, it is probably wise to avoid this one. If, however, you want a truly momentous emotional experience, you should definitely take time to read Jude the Obscure. Just be aware that the feelings it arouses are not pleasant, but it will definitely leave you deeply moved.
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Format: Paperback
A widely challenged novel, Thomas Hardy's _Jude the Obscure_ encompasses issues and sides of humanity from a different angle; his issues discussed you will rarely see in 19th century literature. Yes, Dickens often did challenge poverty and social injustice, but Hardy goes so far as to scorn Christianity and gender roles. As I read through this horribly depressing tale, I was stunned by Hardy's ideas. This man was very much ahead of his time, as his morals and thoughts are still often disregarded in society today.
Jude Fawley, a poor boy with humble beginnings and a vehement love of learning, has ambitions and dreams which only prove unattainable. (Instead of leading to eventual success in his novel, Hardy shows painfully well true difficulties and unrealities.) Jude struggles to fit into society, and acquires a wild relationship with his cousin. Though she is also a display of the often times frivilous and jealous nature of women, she defies many gender roles, and Jude tries to make her see as he does. Certain events turn this story unusually morbid, and Jude certainly ends his life as an obscure and unimportant man ... a depressing reminder that this is the fate which awaits us.
One of my favorite characters of all time, Jude Fawley won my admiration for being the man who would not mold to society. His actions were noble, his ideas bold, his thoughts different, but because he could not submit, his life was tragic. Eventually he fell into obscurity, to merely an unknown name, meaning nothing to society on the whole.
Consider the time period in which this was written, and you will be amazed by the dark and catastrophic events, the sexual nature, and the downplay of Christianity. Thomas Hardy has distinguished himself by understanding society rather than hiding the truth. Much like Jude, Hardy could not fit into the norm, yet took no shame in writing this book.
Highly recommended.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I've read all of Thomas Hardy's novels, and Jude is my favorite, followed closely by The Mayor of CasterBridge. I love Hardy's details; he almost always uses symbolism in his character and place names. Did you know Jude is the smallest book in the Bible? Well it is, and accordingly, Jude is a diminuitive character from appearances. Hardy's complex views on marriage and relationships really stood out to me in this novel.
Above all, Jude values education's enlightenment, not just a degree. But the fool marries Arabella (for impatient, youthful lust), a worldly woman who could care less about Jude's unpractical philosophy. He, in turn, abhors her family's pig slaughtering business. Eventually, she runs away.
Over time, Jude comes to know and love Sue Bridehead. She is an intelligent teacher whose love is mutual, but she refuses to marry him. First of all, he never officially got divorced from Arabella, and secondly, she is superstitious. Both have a history of luckless marriages in their family histories (they are cousins). Eventually they come to the decision that since they are morally upright, they can be married without the formalities. They have three children. All goes ok for a time.
Then Arabella comes back with a child, Jude's child. She cannot keep him. This child is barely older than the other three and severely depressed. The child does not understand why people have children in such a cruel world. I won't tell you the ending, but be assured it ends in the worst possible way. I love the novel anyways; it has artistic integrity. The final collapse of Judes relationships is a moment of 'pathetic catharsis.' Catharsis is always associated with tragedy (Greek, ie - Oedipus), but I think Hardy actually pulls it off in this pathos story.
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