Not so obscure in the annals of great fiction (Hardy)

This is the next to last book that we read in the class on Narratives on Adultery in 19th century fiction. Interestingly it is the only one named for a male character.  This novel is a true heart breaker in which there are tragedies too numerous to mention.  Jude, orphaned young, and  living with his aunt in Hardy’s fictional Wessex, has dreams beyond his social class.  Inspired by a teacher, Jude dreams of going to Christminster, a stand in for Oxford.  He dreams of an education and feels that he will find it in this city of learning.  Jude is determined but also led astray by his desires for sex and alcohol.  He marries unwisely, loves a cousin (perhaps also unwisely), and the novel ends in tragedy.  Some of the people in my class talked of having to take breaks when reading Jude.  No spoilers but one tragedy just is of epic proportions.  I kept wanting to intervene with Jude as if he were a real person.  “Stop,” I wanted to say, “consider what you are doing, what you said you wanted and what you are choosing.”  This is one of those novels that I believe forms a part of a good education.  It is a tough one though.  It is Hardy’s indictment of marriage without love and a statement of the boundaries of social class that cannot be transcended.  Has anyone reading the blog read Jude?  Your thoughts?

 

3 thoughts on “Not so obscure in the annals of great fiction (Hardy)

  1. I haven’t read this particular Thomas Hardy book (though I do love Far from the Madding Crowd). However, it sounds like a cautionary tale, like “this is how not to live your life.” It sounds really interesting but rather sad.

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