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Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy, Patricia Ingham

Jude the Obscure

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June 2014 Guest Editor Freya North on Thomas Hardy...

For me, no other writer so definitively captures both the beauty and challenges of Britain - its landscape, weather, village life versus city life and of course the class system. But most of all I love the way that landscape is not merely a backdrop in Hardy's writing, but a leading character in it – something that has become a crucial element of my own writing. I love the paintings of Millet – the unpatronizing dignity he imbued his scenes of rustic life. This is so true of Hardy too and nowhere is this more compelling than in Tess of the D’Urbervilles - one of my all time favourite books.


Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy, Patricia Ingham

Thomas Hardy's last novel, Jude the Obscure is a fearless exploration of the hypocrisy of Victorian society, edited with an introduction by Dennis Taylor in Penguin Classics . Jude Fawley's hopes of an education at Christminster University are dashed when he is trapped into marrying the wild, earthy Arabella, who later abandons him. Moving to Christminster to 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 , with its fearless and challenging exploration of class and sexual relationships, caused a public furore when it was first published and marked the end of Hardy's career as a novelist. This edition uses the unbowdlerized first-volume text of 1895, and 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. Thomas Hardy (1840-1928), born Higher Brockhampton, near Dorchester. Though he saw himself primarily as a poet, Hardy was the author of some of the late eighteenth century's major novels: The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886), Tess of the D'Urbervilles (1891), Far from the Madding Crowd (1874), and Jude the Obscure (1895). Amidst the controversy caused by Jude the Obscure , he turned to the poetry he had been writing all his life. In the next thirty years he published over nine hundred poems and his epic drama in verse, The Dynasts . If you enjoyed Jude the Obscure , you might also like Thomas Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbervilles , also available in Penguin Classics . Visceral, passionate, anti-hypocrisy, anti-repression...Hardy reaches into our wildest recesses. ( Evening Standard ).


'His style touches sublimity' --T.S. Eliot

'The greatest tragic writer among English novelists -- Virginia Woolf

I was a teenager when I read this book. There was something about Hardy's harsh, fatalistic world that appealed to me then. Despite, or maybe because of, the pessimism, I think I found it rather romantic and I read everything of his that I could lay my hands on. Then I got to Jude. And Jude was just so sad, so unfair, so much about fate shafting a good man in all kinds of ways, that I overdosed on Hardy and could never read him again. But I still remember sitting on my bed and crying my heart out at the injustice of it all. I cried so much my mother came upstairs to check I was all right. I think she was worried about a teenage excess of emotion. Maybe that was what I liked about Hardy all along: you can shamelessly feel as you read him.' REVIEWED BY WILLIAM WAKE (Kirkus UK)

About the Author

Thomas Hardy was born in 1840 and wrote both poetry and novels, including The Mayor of Casterbridge, Far from the Madding Crowd, Tess of the D'Urbervilles and Jude the Obscure. He died in 1928.

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Book Info

Publication date

7th May 1998


Thomas Hardy, Patricia Ingham

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Penguin Classics an imprint of Penguin Books Ltd


528 pages


Literary Fiction
eBook Favourites

Classic fiction (pre c 1945)



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