Jude The Obscure

Jude The Obscure

4.1 54
by Thomas Defendant Hardy

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Jude Fawley, poor and working-class, longs to study at the University of Christminster, but he is rebuffed, and trapped in a loveless marriage. He falls in love with his unconventional cousin Sue Bridehead, and their refusal to marry when free to do so confirms their rejection of and by the world around them. The shocking fate that overtakes them is an indictment of a


Jude Fawley, poor and working-class, longs to study at the University of Christminster, but he is rebuffed, and trapped in a loveless marriage. He falls in love with his unconventional cousin Sue Bridehead, and their refusal to marry when free to do so confirms their rejection of and by the world around them. The shocking fate that overtakes them is an indictment of a rigid and uncaring society. Hardy's last and most controversial novel, Jude the Obscure caused outrage when it was published in 1895. This is the first truly critical edition, taking account of the changes that Hardy made over twenty-five years. It includes a new chronology and bibliography and substantially revised notes.

Editorial Reviews

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 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

Wilder Publications
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6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.83(d)

Read an Excerpt

Part First at Marygreen

“Yea, many there be that have run out of their wits for women, and become servants for their sakes. Many also have perished, have erred, and sinned, for women. . . . O ye men, how can it be but women should be strong, seeing they do thus?” —Esdras.


The schoolmaster was leaving the village, and everybody seemed sorry. The miller at Cresscombe1 lent him the small white tilted cart and horse to carry his goods to the city of his destination, about twenty miles off, such a vehicle proving of quite sufficient size for the departing teacher’s effects. For the schoolhouse had been partly furnished by the managers, and the only cumbersome article possessed by the master, in addition to the packing-case of books, was a cottage piano that he had bought at an auction during the year in which he thought of learning instrumental music. But the enthusiasm having waned he had never acquired any skill in playing, and the purchased article had been a perpetual trouble to him ever since in moving house.

The rector had gone away for the day, being a man who disliked the sight of changes. He did not mean to return till the evening, when the new school-teacher would have arrived and settled in, and everything would be smooth again.

The blacksmith, the farm bailiff, and the schoolmaster himself were standing in perplexed attitudes in the parlour before the instrument. The master had remarked that even if he got it into the cart he should not know what to do with it on his arrival at Christminster, the city he was bound for, since he was only going into temporary lodgings just at first.

A little boy of eleven, whohad been thoughtfully assisting in the packing, joined the group of men, and as they rubbed their chins he spoke up, blushing at the sound of his own voice: “Aunt have got a great fuel-house, and it could be put there, perhaps, till you’ve found a place to settle in, sir.”

“A proper good notion,” said the blacksmith.

It was decided that a deputation should wait on the boy’s aunt—an old maiden resident—and ask her if she would house the piano till Mr. Phillotson should send for it. The smith and the bailiff started to see the practicability of the suggested shelter, and the boy and the schoolmaster were left standing alone.

“Sorry I am going, Jude?” asked the latter kindly.

Tears rose into the boy’s eyes, for he was not among the regular day scholars, who came unromantically close to the schoolmaster’s life, but one who had attended the night school only during the present teacher’s term of office. The regular scholars, if the truth must be told, stood at the present moment afar off, like certain historic disciples, indisposed to any enthusiastic volunteering of aid.

The boy awkwardly opened the book he held in his hand, which Mr. Phillotson had bestowed on him as a parting gift, and admitted that he was sorry.

“So am I,” said Mr. Phillotson.

“Why do you go, sir?” asked the boy.

“Ah—that would be a long story. You wouldn’t understand my reasons, Jude. You will, perhaps, when you are older.”

“I think I should now, sir.”

“Well—don’t speak of this everywhere. You know what a university is, and a university degree? It is the necessary hall-mark of a man who wants to do anything in teaching. My scheme, or dream, is to be a university graduate, and then to be ordained. By going to live at Christminster, or near it, I shall be at headquarters, so to speak, and if my scheme is practicable at all, I consider that being on the spot will afford me a better chance of carrying it out than I should have elsewhere.”

The smith and his companion returned. Old Miss Fawley’s fuel-house was dry, and eminently practicable; and she seemed willing to give the instrument standing-room there. It was accordingly left in the school till the evening, when more hands would be available for removing it; and the schoolmaster gave a final glance round.

The boy Jude assisted in loading some small articles, and at nine o’clock Mr. Phillotson mounted beside his box of books and other impedimenta, and bade his friends good-bye.

“I shan’t forget you, Jude,” he said, smiling, as the cart moved off. “Be a good boy, remember; and be kind to animals and birds, and read all you can. And if ever you come to Christminster remember you hunt me out for old acquaintance’ sake.”

The cart creaked across the green, and disappeared round the corner by the rectory-house. The boy returned to the draw-well at the edge of the greensward, where he had left his buckets when he went to help his patron and teacher in the loading. There was a quiver in his lip now, and after opening the well-cover to begin lowering the bucket he paused and leant with his forehead and arms against the frame-work, his face wearing the fixity of a thoughtful child’s who has felt the pricks of life somewhat before his time. The well into which he was looking was as ancient as the village itself, and from his present position appeared as a long circular perspective ending in a shining disk of quivering water at a distance of a hundred feet down. There was a lining of green moss near the top, and nearer still the hart’s-tongue fern.

He said to himself, in the melodramatic tones of a whimsical boy, that the schoolmaster had drawn at that well scores of times on a morning like this, and would never draw there any more. “I’ve seen him look down into it, when he was tired with his drawing, just as I do now, and when he rested a bit before carrying the buckets home! But he was too clever to bide here any longer—a small sleepy place like this!”

A tear rolled from his eye into the depths of the well. The morning was a little foggy, and the boy’s breathing unfurled itself as a thicker fog upon the still and heavy air. His thoughts were interrupted by a sudden outcry:

“Bring on that water, will ye, you idle young harlican!”

It came from an old woman who had emerged from her door towards the garden gate of a green-thatched cottage not far off. The boy quickly waved a signal of assent, drew the water with what was a great effort for one of his stature, landed and emptied the big bucket into his own pair of smaller ones, and pausing a moment for breath, started with them across the patch of clammy greensward whereon the well stood—nearly in the centre of the little village, or rather hamlet of Marygreen.

It was as old-fashioned as it was small, and it rested in the lap of an undulating upland adjoining the North Wessex downs. Old as it was, however, the well-shaft was probably the only relic of the local history that remained absolutely unchanged. Many of the thatched and dormered dwelling-houses had been pulled down of late years, and many trees felled on the green. Above all, the original church, humpbacked, wood-turreted, and quaintly hipped, had been taken down, and either cracked up into heaps of road-metal in the lane, or utilized as pig-sty walls, garden seats, guard-stones to fences, and rockeries in the flower-beds of the neighbourhood. In place of it a tall new building of modern Gothic design, unfamiliar to English eyes, had been erected on a new piece of ground by a certain obliterator of historic records8 who had run down from London and back in a day. The site whereon so long had stood the ancient temple to the Christian divinities was not even recorded on the green and level grass-plot that had immemorially been the churchyard, the obliterated graves being commemorated by eighteen-penny cast-iron crosses warranted to last five years.

Meet the Author

Patricia Ingham is Fellow and Tutor in English at St. Anne's College, Oxford University.

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Jude the Obscure (Barnes & Noble Classics Series) 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 54 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
jane70 More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Gino More than 1 year ago
All aboard the Feels Train! I'm not gong to give you a plot summary like many do, trying to convince you with the quality of the story. I'm just going to tell you that out of the almost twenty classic novels that I have read in my life, Jude the Obscure quickly crept up to the top, becoming my favorite over titles like Catch 22, Grapes of wrath, and Wuthering Heights. However, no matter how good it is, I don't recommend it if you are a sensitive person, or a teenager under 15 years old. Even though the last words of Arabella leaves you with a surprising satisfaction after enduring over 300 pages of suffering, it is the need to read all those pages and watching Jude go through so much, that will make the kind of people I just mentioned feel either down, or downright depressed. I'm 20, but kind of sensitive, and this book touched me. Every night after finish reading, I felt different emotions, mad when the Jude felt mad, happy when he felt so, but towards the last few parts, the feeling it left me with was very heavy and sad. I'm not saying this is bad, because if a book manages to do this to you, then it automatically becomes a master piece; however, this book is definitely going to mess with your feels, and not everyone enjoys that. If you are OK with that pick it up, if what I said sounds like too much, there are countless titles out there to try out. But still, this book deserves to be at the top, along with the best books ever written by man, because it is a marvel of the human intelligence. Thomas Hardy was a boss.
Catherine-E-Chapman More than 1 year ago
A Very Accessible Nineteenth Century Novel The most striking thing about ‘Jude the Obscure,’ as far as I’m concerned, is how very easy it was to read, compared with most novels of comparable length written in the Nineteenth Century. This is not to say it’s a ‘light’ read by any means – it’s pretty bleak – but very compelling. Also, the length of chapters is such that it’s an easy book to dip into at regular intervals; before sleeping, for instance. The morality in Jude is extreme, and Jude and Sue are unconventional characters. However, I found the story had resonance with modern life in its illustration of how individuals can pervert religion in order to interpret it in a way that is contrary to basic principles of humanity. I’d recommend reading ‘Jude the Obscure’ if you’ve enjoyed other Thomas Hardy novels but I’d also say it’s a book that’s worth reading if you just enjoy novels that explore complex emotional situations and contain interesting characters. If you wouldn’t normally read Nineteenth Century novels, I’d say have a go with this one as it’s rather modern in the moral questions it raises, despite the fact that its conclusion is necessarily mired in the social constraints of the Victorian times in which it is set.
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