Jude the Obscure (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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Jude the Obscure, by Thomas Hardy, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:
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Jude the Obscure (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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Overview

Jude the Obscure, by Thomas Hardy, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:
  • New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars
  • Biographies of the authors
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  • Comments by other famous authors
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  • Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate
All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.

Virginia Woolf called him “the greatest tragic writer among English novelists,” but Thomas Hardy was so distressed by the shocked outrage that greeted Jude the Obscure in 1895 that he decided to quit writing novels. For in telling the story of Jude Fawley, whose many attempts to rise above his class are crushed by society or the forces of nature, Hardy had attacked Victorian society’s most cherished institutions—marriage, social class, religion, and higher education.

A poor villager, Jude Fawley longs to study at the elite University of Christminster, but his ambitions are thwarted by class prejudice—and an earthy country girl who tricks him into marriage by pretending to be pregnant. Entrapped in a loveless marriage, he becomes a stonemason and falls in love with his cousin—the intellectual, free-spirited Sue Bridehead, who is also unhappy in marriage. Sue leaves her husband to live with Jude and eventually bears his children out of wedlock. Their poverty and the weight of society’s disapproval begin to take their toll on the couple, forcing them into a shattering downward spiral that ends in one of the most shocking scenes in all of literature.

A stunning masterpiece, Jude the Obscure is Hardy’s bleakest and most personal novel.

Amy M. King is an Assistant Professor of Literature at the California Institute of Technology, and the author of Bloom: The Botanical Vernacular in the English Novel, forthcoming from Oxford University Press. She is also the author of articles on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century British literature and culture, and has taught widely in the English novel at Haverford College and Caltech. King received her doctorate in 1998 from Harvard University in English and American Literature and Language.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781593080358
  • Publisher: Barnes & Noble
  • Publication date: 8/1/2003
  • Series: Barnes & Noble Classics Series
  • Pages: 480
  • Sales rank: 80,877
  • Product dimensions: 5.19 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Thomas Hardy
Amy M. King is an Assistant Professor of Literature at the California Institute of Technology, and the author of Bloom: The Botanical Vernacular in the English Novel, forthcoming from Oxford University Press. She is also the author of articles on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century British literature and culture, and has taught widely in the English novel at Haverford College and Caltech. King received her doctorate in 1998 from Harvard University in English and American Literature and Language.

Biography

Thomas Hardy was born on June 2, 1840, in the village of Higher Bockhampton, near Dorchester, a market town in the county of Dorset. Hardy would spend much of his life in his native region, transforming its rural landscapes into his fictional Wesses. Hardy's mother, Jemima, inspired him with a taste for literature, while his stonemason father, Thomas, shared with him a love of architecture and music (the two would later play the fiddle at local dances). As a boy Hardy read widely in the popular fiction of the day, including the novels of Scott, Dumas, Dickens, W. Harrison Ainsworth, and G.P.R. James, and in the poetry of Scott, Wordsworth, Byron, Shelley, Keats, and others. Strongly influenced in his youth by the Bible and the liturgy of the Anglican Church, Hardy later contemplated a career in the ministry; but his assimilation of the new theories of Darwinian evolutionism eventually made him an agnostic and a severe critic of the limitations of traditional religion.

Although Hardy was a gifted student at the local schools he attended as a boy for eight years, his lower-class social origins limited his further educational opportunities. At sixteen, he was apprenticed to architect James Hicks in Dorchester and began an architectural career primarily focused on the restoration of churches. In Dorchester Hardy was also befriended by Horace Moule, eight years Hardy's senior, who acted as an intellectual mentor and literary adviser throughout his youth and early adulthood. From 1862 to 1867 hardy worked in London for the distinguished architect Arthur Blomfeld, but he continued to study -- literature, art, philosophy, science, history, the classics -- and to write, first poetry and then fiction.

In the early 1870s Hardy's first two published novels, Desperate Remedies and Under the Greenwood Tree, appeared to little acclaim or sales. With his third novel, A Pair of Blue Eyes, he began the practice of serializing his fiction in magazines prior to book publication, a method that he would utilize throughout his career as a novelist. In 1874, the year of his marriage to Emma Gifford of St. Juliot, Cornwall, Hardy enjoyed his first significant commercial and critical success with the book publication of Far from the Madding Crowd after its serialization in the Cornhill Magazine. Hardy and his wife lived in several locations in London, Dorset, and Somerset before settling in South London for three years in 1878. During the late 1870s and early 1880s, Hardy published The Return of the Native, The Trumpet-Major, A Laodicean, and Two on a Tower while consolidating his pace as a leading contemporary English novelist. He would also eventually produce four volumes of short stories: Wessex Tales, A Group of Noble Dames, Life's Little Ironies, and A Changed Man.

In 1883, Hardy and his wife moved back to Dorchester, where Hardy wrote The Mayor of Casterbridge, set in a fictionalized version of Dorchester, and went on to design and construct a permanent home for himself, named Max Gate, completed in 1885. In the later 1880s and early 1890s Hardy wrote three of his greatest novels, The Woodlanders, Tess of the d'Urbevilles, and Jude the Obscure, all of them notable for their remarkable tragic power. The latter two were initially published as magazine serials in which Hardy removed potentially objectionable moral and religious content, only to restore it when the novels were published in book form; both novels nevertheless aroused public controversy for their criticisms of Victorian sexual and religious mores. In particular, the appearance of Jude the Obscure in 1895 precipitated harsh attacks on Hardy's alleged pessimism and immorality; the attacks contributed to his decision to abandon the writing of fiction after the appearance of his last-published novel, The Well-Beloved.

In the later 1890s Hardy returned to the writing of poetry that he had abandoned for fiction thirty years earlier. Wessex Poems appeared in 1898, followed by several volumes of poetry at regular intervals over the next three decades. Between 1904 and 1908 Hardy published a three-part epic verse drama, The Dynasts, based on the Napoleonic Wars of the early nineteenth century. Following the death of his first wife in 1912, Hardy married his literary secretary Florence Dugdale in 1914. Hardy received a variety of public honors in the last two decades of his life and continued to publish poems until his death at Max Gate on January 11, 1928. His ashes were interred in the Poets' Corner of Westminster Abbey in London and his heart in Stinsford outside Dorchester. Regarded as one of England's greatest authors of both fiction and poetry, Hardy has inspired such notable twentieth-century writers as Marcel Proust, John Cowper Powys, D. H. Lawrence, Theodore Dreiser, and John Fowles.

Author biography from the Barnes & Noble Classics edition of Far from the Madding Crowd.

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    1. Date of Birth:
      June 2, 1840
    2. Place of Birth:
      Higher Brockhampon, Dorset, England
    1. Date of Death:
      January 11, 1928
    2. Place of Death:
      Max Gate, Dorchester, England
    1. Education:
      Served as apprentice to architect James Hicks

Read an Excerpt

From Amy M. King’s Introduction to Jude the Obscure

Hardy’s stature as a novelist when Jude the Obscure was published guaranteed him a certain degree of critical attention, but the attention he was to receive was so negative as to alter the course of his career. Jude the Obscure was Hardy’s final novel. In one of the strangest turns in literary history, Hardy at the age of fifty-five turned to poetry, which he continued to write until his death in 1928 at the age of eighty-eight. In letters to close friends he pretends a somewhat jaunty indifference to the negative response to Jude, but in an essay entitled “The Profitable Reading of Fiction,” which appeared in the journal Forum in 1888, Hardy’s defensiveness about readers suggests the effect the reception of his novel would have upon him:

A novel which does moral injury to a dozen imbeciles, and has bracing results upon a thousand intellects of normal vigor, can justify its existence. . . . It is unfortunately quite possible to read the most elevating works of imagination in our own or any language, and, by fixing the regard on the wrong sides of the subject, to gather not a grain of wisdom from them, nay, sometimes positive harm. What author has not had his experience of such readers?—the mentally and morally warped ones of both sexes, who will, where practicable, so twist plain and obvious meanings as to see in an honest picture of human nature an attack on religion, morals, or institutions.

If Hardy had become wary of a certain kind of reader, his bitterness toward what he calls “the mentally and morally warped ones” did not prevent him from continuing to believe that such “imbeciles” numbered in the dozens, not the thousands. He continued to tinker with the novel in subsequent editions. In the 1903 edition he tempered the scene in which Arabella throws the pig genitals at Jude, while in the 1912 edition he introduces some two hundred small but nevertheless effectively important changes. These changes, which the edition you read here reflects, are generally considered to have been softening gestures to the depiction of Sue. For instance, as the bibliographical critic Robert Slack has shown, in the 1903 edition Jude threatens to return to Arabella unless Sue consents to live with him (and, it is inferred, become his sexual partner), and Sue agrees to it because he has “conquered” her; in the 1912 edition, Sue’s acquiescence is the result of love. The key words “I do love you” are included seventeen years after the first publication of the novel. The revisions that Hardy makes go beyond an author’s usual attention to errors in early editions. Jude clearly stayed with Hardy in the years following his switch to poetry, though whether we should understand that switch in light of a renunciation inspired by the extremity of the negative reaction to Jude or as an excuse for returning to the genre (poetry) with which he began his writing career is less certain; it was, if nothing else, a decisive one.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 51 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2005

    great

    i thought that this book was excellent. it was very sad and almost depresing. in the begining i thought that it was rather dull but once i got into it it was very good. also on the back of the book it says 'ends in one of the most shocking scenes in literary history' i didnt know what could be so shocking. but there was something. it was diffinitely worth reading. although i feel that this book is not as good as Thomas Hardys other novel 'Tess' which it is supposed to be better than, it was stil an amazing book by an amazing author.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 28, 2011

    I agree with all the reviewers comments and would add the following....

    There are some books you read where the story leaves you soon after it is put down. Jude and his story, is not one of these. His hopes, dreams, goals, disappointments, loves and heartbreak, stay with you forever. Hardy appears to have been a man who challenged the inequities of his time through his great literary talent. The social underpinnings of the times are intricately woven into the lives of the meticulously defined characters and we are witness to the fallout and impact of the injustices of the times. Greed, jealousy, nepotism, elitism, status, expectations and more, negatively impacted Jude's life......but wait.....are we still not impacted today by these very traits? While some positive changes in the way society manages our lives have been made since Hardy's times, Read the book to see if you think if we are free of barriers to hardwork bringing success for all strata's of today's society.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2007

    Not Fit For Everyone

    Jude the Obscure is one of the most depressing novels in all of literature. Although I don't dispute that literature, like other art forms, need not be merely entertainment, the emotions evoked from this book, while a testament to Hardy's skill, are not for everybody. An author selects his audience, just as much as readers select their authors (if not more so). If you are inclined towards uplifting literature, or even works which permit the existence of hope, this book is not for you.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 16, 2007

    A clever and tragic read

    This book was the first I had ever read of Hardy's works and I loved it. It is rich with imagery and contains clandestine symbolism throughout the entire work, Hardy paints a perfect nightmare.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 9, 2006

    wonderfully tragic

    Unrealized dreams, emotionally and spiritually tortured lovers, unimaginable grief. Thomas Hardy does a great job of telling this wonderfully tragic story without sending the reader into a state of depression. After reading dozens of classics, a stunning and unexpected story development is a pleasant surprise.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 30, 2008

    For the lover of classic literature.

    I read this book to find out the big secret alluded to on the back cover. The novel is full of surprises and is very somber. It's a great read for anybody interested in the classics.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 9, 2004

    An Incredible Book

    I have always been a fan of the classics, and this is one of my favorites. It is a haunting story that never really leaves me. It is a sad, bleak story of an unfortunate man. I have always heard that you can achieve whatever you want in life if you work hard. I do believe that, but I also believe that some unlucky souls never get what they want out of life even if they've worked hard for it. This is the story of one of those people. It is a great, sad, bleak, haunting book, and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys the classics of literature.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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