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Jude the Obscure (Penguin Classics) [Paperback]

Thomas Hardy
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
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Book Description

11 Aug 2003 Penguin Classics

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'

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Product details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; 1 edition (11 Aug 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140435387
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140435382
  • Product Dimensions: 20.1 x 2.3 x 12.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 198,447 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'His style touches sublimity' --T.S. Eliot 'The greatest tragic writer among English novelists' --Virginia Woolf

Book Description

A brooding tragedy which scandalised Hardy's contemporaries on first publication --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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The schoolmaster was leaving the village, and everybody seemed sorry. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not what I expected... 31 July 2006
When I received this book for Christmas last year, I looked at it and wondered if I would ever read it. Fortunately, I decided to about a month ago and did not regret it. It was a real hard-hitting read;don't be fooled by the blurb which sort of suggests it is a romantic sweet book as it is more powerful than that. It was one of few books that I can honestly say, when finished, left me with a shocked almost sad look on my face(and thats saying something as Iam an avid reader and not much hits me that much). The ending is completely unexpected which keeps you hooked. I highly recommend it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars depressing.....but brilliant! 14 Nov 2011
A fantastic (if depressing) read. As with most Hardy, Jude is pretty harrowing, in my opinion the bleakest of all his work (who could forget the "done because we are too menny" part!). Be prepared to weep over this!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Jude the Obscure 27 Oct 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Being a fan of Hardy, I could not help but enjoy this book. It's gripping and easy to read. However, like many of Hardy's works, it is not a happy story, so if you're looking for an uplifting,light-hearted tale this isn't the book you want. I would definitely recommend this - well worth reading!
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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Modern Hardy 7 Mar 2007
If like me, your were put off Hardy by studying him at school or if you have in your mind's eye a writer obsessed with Wessex and a kind of moralising pastoralism, then try reading Jude. Here is a novel written with real emotional conviction and shot through with an anger which only comes from real experience. It is really a book about rebelling against conventions particularly about sexual morality and the aspirations of the artisan. Jude Fawley is an abandoned child who from his earliest years dreams of a richer fuller life both culturally and physically which he believes will be opened to him through higher education, symbolised by the distant spires of Christminster (Oxford). The passion with which Jude adores everything the venerable university stands for is only matched by his awareness of the futility of his dreams but that does not stop his hunger for books and learning which occupy his every free moment as he practices the trade of a stonemason. However, his sensual appetites override his academic ambitions and he finds himself imprisoned in a marriage devoid of the passion that brought it about. Meeting Sue Bridehead who he perceives as his soul mate underlines his captive state and they both come to question the very purpose of marriage resolving to live together without the need for a piece of paper. Yet the consequences of offending Victorian social codes are severe: from social exclusion to the loss of employment and indirectly the death of their children. Sue's response involves a return to the mindset she eschewed in her youth, Jude remains defiant bemoaning the fact that he was `fifty years ahead of his time' and coming to hold his beloved Oxford and its metaphysics in contempt. Rarely has the anguish of broken dreams had more resonance than here. Read more ›
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jude the Obscure 12 Feb 2006
By P
Like many, I read Hardy novels at school rather than through choice. I was put off by his ability to take what seemed like pages to describe a tree!! This book was a gift and I am so grateful for it.
Jude's story is beautiful, heart-breaking, plausible and sincere. His desire to live a content life, demanding very little from society, is thwarted by poverty - and women! I shared his hope, his frustration, his sense of loss and his love for Christminster. I feel richer for having spent my time with Jude and plan to return to Hardy as a grown-up to see what it can offer me today. Do yourself a favour, read this book.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not for the faint hearted! 22 Oct 2004
By Gregory
This is a dreary and depressing novel.......and as such is one of Hardy's finest! Widely renowned, this was Hardy's last novel in his long and rich days of writing. Worth reading perhaps just for that!
Though, let me warn you, this is not to be entered into lightly. It is real reading. The plots are intricate and beautifully proportioned, the characters are stark and individual, and the ending leaves you feeling short of breath and in need of a glass of whiskey.
Hardy has managed to create a deluge of characters that are so incompatible you know that life cannot go on happily for long. Jude the weak and Arabella, Jude the tragic and Sue - it proves to be a stimulating though saddening life story as Hardy follows Jude around his fantasy of Southern England, centring on the towers of Christminster (Oxford).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
This person (Sotger) has taken books from my site (globalgrey) (where they are completely free) and which I worked hard on formatting, and is selling them on Kindle, passing them off as their own.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Marriage under scrutiny 31 Dec 2011
In the postscript to the preface of Jude The Obscure, Thomas Hardy quotes a German reviewer of the novel. Sue Bridehead, the heroine, was described there as "the first delineation in fiction of the woman ... of the feminist movement - the slight pale `bachelor' girl - the intellectualised, emancipated bundle of nerves" that modern conditions were producing. The book's reception `cured' Hardy of the desire to write another novel, and all of the above happened before the dawn of the twentieth century.

Jude The Obscure is a novel about relationships within marriage. Hardy's opinion was that legal ties between men and women ought to be breakable once the union had achieved dysfunction. It was an opinion that differed from that expected by the age. It prompted a bishop to burn the book, rather than the writer, who was unavailable at the time.

Thomas Hardy's Jude Fawley was adopted into a baker's family, and harboured an ambition to self-teach himself into a classical education in Christminster's learned colleges. His schoolmaster, Mr Phillotson helped a little. Jude's ambition was always somewhat far fetched, though he applied himself diligently to his studies and achieved a great deal. In his formative years, he also learned the stonemason's trade to allow the earning of a living. On a country walk he then took up with Arabella, the daughter of a pig farmer. Having found himself stuck, he tried to learn how to stick real pigs but somehow the penetration never came easy. The couple parted, apparently childless.

Sue, Jude's cousin and thus a co-member of a family reputed for its marital failures, was always a soul mate for the young man. But she never quite seemed up to the task of giving herself, giving of her self.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 2 days ago by Sallly Pond
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 12 days ago by peter
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't be fooled.
Yep, this seller is selling these ebooks, which are taken without permission from the free site, GlobalGrey. All his books are from that website, and are available there for free.
Published 17 days ago by Naji
5.0 out of 5 stars Love it!
The OUP editions are always lovely to read because they include really useful notes on chronology and a great critical introduction. Read more
Published 2 months ago by sarahs92
1.0 out of 5 stars The Characters are humans
Which is the best part. All downhill from there. Apparently more words are required, in fact this will double the length of the review, possibly more, which is appropriate.
Published 5 months ago by Ferdia
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, Hardy
Depressingly Good. Thomas Hardy at his very best presented in a distinctive volume that looks good on anyone's shelf, well done.
Published 6 months ago by Marcus Gregorius
2.0 out of 5 stars Heaven help me
another worthy writer and another dreary book. Just read it because it was on the book club list but it was awful
Published 7 months ago by Maude1963
2.0 out of 5 stars SAD
It is no surprise to most readers that this is the gloomiest of Hardy's many gloomy books. Read it for a real view of rural ambition.
Published 8 months ago by Mrs. R. L. Gillett
5.0 out of 5 stars Another great Hardy novel!
Having decided to read Hardy novels I hadn't read as a teenager, I went for the big guns & this certainly does not disappoint. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Kate from London
5.0 out of 5 stars Jude the Obscure (Wordsworth Classics) Jude the Obscure (Wordsworth...
Jude the Obscure (Wordsworth Classics)
Jude the Obscure (Wordsworth Classics) this is undoubtably one of Thomas Hardy's best novels and why he is regarded so fondly by his... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Mr. I. Williams
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