08 October 2008

Review: Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy

I referred to my trusty list of 900 books to find this gem. Many people wouldn't like this book, but I absolutely loved it. I had read two other books by Thomas Hardy before- Far from the Madding Crowd and Tess of d'Urbervilles. I read both as a senior in high school and loved the former but loathed the latter. I think if I read Tess again I would quite like it as my tastes in literature have changed substantially since I was in high school.

Jude the Obscure chronicles the life of Jude Fawley, a poor boy who aspires to become a scholar and eventually a clergyman. The book was the last that Hardy published, and apparently, was completely panned by critics. The story-line itself was rather morose as the characters were plagued by their own bad choices as well as unfortunate circumstances. But the story is really the subcontext for Hardy's themes against society and societal norms. While I didn't agree with Hardy's views (basically that marriage is only for some people and can destroy perfectly healthy relationships), I found his criticisms poignant and thought-provoking.

While I didn't really grow to love any of the characters, I did care about them, and I wanted things to end up well for them. The story was beautifully told, very well-written and intriguing. If you like Hardy, I'm sure you'll like Jude the Obscure.


Science Teacher Mommy said...

I read Mayor of Casterbridge my junior year and hated it. I don't remember much about it except that there is such an over-reaching fatalism in his plot and characters that I was quite frustrated with it.

Then, about three years ago, I read "Tess" for the first time. I really loved it. Maturity had given me a better sense of Hardy's work and historical context for the treatment of women shows just how really ground-breaking his work on that theme. The imagery is amazing and the story is such a tragedy. Loved it. Maybe I should try your recommendation.

JaiJai Jillian said...

Sherry are you on GoodReads? I would love to see your 900 book list!