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Jude the Obscure (Penguin Classics)by Thomas Hardy
Synopses & Reviews
‘I’m an outsider to the end of my days!’
Jude Fawley’s hopes of a university education are lost when he is trapped into marrying the earthy Arabella, who later abandons him. Moving to the town of Christminster where he finds 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, Hardy’s last novel, caused a public furor when it was first published, with its fearless and challenging exploration of class and sexual relationships.
This edition uses the unbowdlerized text of the first volume edition of 1895, and also 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.
Jude Fawley, the stone-mason, whose academic ambitions are thwarted by poverty and the indifference of the authorities at Christminster, appears to find fulfilment in his relationship with Sue Bridehead. Both have fled from broken marriages.
Now considered his best work, Thomas Hardy's novel about a stonemason excluded from the privileged world of learning by class, and his relationship with an emancipated woman, scandalized the late Victorian establishment and marked the end of his career as a novelist. This new Penguin Classics edition reprints the original 1895 edition and includes Hardy's "Postscript" of 1912.
Novel tracing Jude Fawley's life from his aspirations of intellectual freedom to his early death.
In a letter after the publication of Jude the Obscure, Hardy said of his tragic novel that it was "really addressed to those into whose souls the iron of adversity has deeply entered at some time of their lives". Suffering is central to this novel about Jude Fawley, a stonemason excluded by class from the privileged world of learning at Christminster, and his relationship with a modern emancipated woman, Sue Bridehead. Both have left earlier marriages and together attempt to brave the harsh world of law and convention, relying on their own impulses.
Hardy's fearless exploration of sexual and social relationships and his radical critique of marriage scandalized the late Victorian establishment and marked the end of his career as a novelist. With Jude the Obscure Hardy has given us an extraordinarily complex heroine, an English Emma Bovary or Anna Karenin, and perhaps the most poignant expression of modern tragedy. This new Penguin Classics edition reprints the unbowdlerized first volume edition of 1895 with Hardy's "Postscript" of 1912.
Includes bibliographical references (p. xxxv-xxxvi).
About the Author
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 DUrbervilles 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 Poets 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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