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Jude the Obscure : Wordsworth Classics - Thomas Hardy

Jude the Obscure

Wordsworth Classics

By: Thomas Hardy, Norman Vance (Introduction by)


Published: 5th August 2000
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This book includes introduction and notes by Norman Vance, Professor of English, University of Sussex.

Jude Fawley is a rural stone mason with intellectual aspirations. Frustrated by poverty and the indifference of the academic institutions at the University of Christminster, his only chance of fulfilment seems to lie in his relationship with his unconventional cousin, Sue Bridehead.

But life as social outcasts proves undermining, and when tragedy occurs, Sue has no resilience and Jude is left in despair.

About the Author

Thomas Hardy was born on 2 June 1840 at Higher Bockhampton in Dorset. His father was a stonemason. Hardy attended school in Dorchester and then trained as an architect. In 1868 his work took him to St Juliot's church in Cornwall where he met his wife-to-be, Emma. His first novel, The Poor Man and the Lady, was rejected by publishers but Desperate Remedies was published in 1871 and this was rapidly followed by Under the Greenwood Tree (1872), A Pair of Blue Eyes (1873) and Far from the Madding Crowd (1874). He also wrote many other novels, poems and short stories.

Tess of the D'Urbervilles was published in 1891 and he published his final novel, Jude the Obscure, in 1895. Hardy was awarded the Order of Merit in 1910 and the gold medal of the Royal Society of Literature in 1912. Emma died in 1912 and Hardy married his second wife, Florence, in 1914. Thomas Hardy died on 11 January 1928.

Review by John Purcell

Thomas Hardy didn’t write another novel after publishing Jude the Obscure. The public reaction to the novel depressed him and gave him no way forward. He turned to poetry exclusively, and if you have had the pleasure of reading Hardy’s late poetry, you can be thankful for that.

Over time the reaction of readers to Jude the Obscure has not greatly changed. It is unique among novels for its impact on the reader. It eviscerates a person. Truly. This book is not for the weak at heart or the strong at heart. Not for those who want to remain insensitive to the horrors of humanity. It isn’t for those who believe in love or marriage or for those who have hope that humanity can redeem itself.

To my mind, Jude the Obscure is one of the world’s great works of art. It goes further in its subject than any book I have yet read. Hardy strode unwaveringly into the abyss and took up residence there.

I don’t recommend you read Jude the Obscure now. Buy it. Put it on your shelf. One day it will call for you. When that day comes, it will be up to you whether or not you answer the call.

I can tell you this, though, I am better for having read it.

Acknowledgementsp. vi
General Editor's Prefacep. vii
Map of Hardy's Wessexp. viii
Introductionp. xi
Note on the Textp. xxii
Select Bibliographyp. xxvi
A Chronology of Thomas Hardyp. xxix
Jude the Obscurep. 1
Explanatory Notesp. 399
Table of Contents provided by Rittenhouse. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9781853262616
ISBN-10: 1853262617
Series: Wordsworth Classics
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 376
Published: 5th August 2000
Publisher: Wordsworth Editions Ltd
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 19.2 x 12.6  x 2.4
Weight (kg): 0.259
Edition Type: New edition