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Jude the Obscure  
Jude the Obscure title page.jpg
Original title page of Jude the Obscure
Author Thomas Hardy
Original title The Simpletons
Hearts Insurgent
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre(s) Tragedy
Publication date 1895
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
ISBN n/a
Preceded by Tess of the d'Urbervilles
Followed by The Well-Beloved

Jude the Obscure is the last of Thomas Hardy's novels, begun as a magazine serial and first published in book form in 1895. The book was burned publicly by William Walsham How, Bishop of Wakefield, in that same year.[1] Its hero, Jude Fawley, is a working-class young man who dreams of becoming a scholar. The two other main characters are his earthy wife, Arabella, and his cousin, Sue. Themes include class, scholarship, religion, marriage, and the modernisation of thought and society.

Contents

Plot introduction

The novel has an elaborately structured plot, in which subtle details and accidents lead to the characters' ruin. It also develops many different themes. These include how human loneliness and sexuality can stop a person from trying to fulfill his dreams, how, when free from the trap of marriage, one's dreams will not be fulfilled if one is of a lower status, how the educated classes are often more like sophists than intellectuals, how living a libertine life full of integrity and passion will be condemned as scandalous in traditional society, and how religion is nothing but a mistaken sense that the tragedies that wear down an individual are the result of having sinned against a higher being.

There are strong autobiographical references to Hardy's own life in Jude the Obscure. Like Jude, Hardy did not go to university; like Sue, Hardy's first wife, Emma Gifford, also became more and more religious as years passed.

Plot summary

The novel tells the story of Jude Fawley, a village stonemason in the southwest English region of Wessex who yearns to be a scholar at "Christminster", a city modelled on Oxford, England. In his spare time while working in his aunt's bakery, he teaches himself Greek and Latin. Before he can try to enter the university, the naïve Jude is manipulated, through a process he later calls erotolepsy, into marrying a rather coarse and superficial local girl, Arabella Donn, who deserts him within two years. By this time, he has abandoned the classics altogether.

After Arabella leaves him, Jude moves to Christminster and supports himself as a mason while studying alone, hoping to be able to enter the university later. There, he meets and falls in love with his free-spirited cousin, Sue Bridehead. Jude shortly introduces Sue to his former schoolteacher, Mr. Phillotson, whom she later marries. Sue is satisfied by the normality of her married life, but quickly finds the relationship an unhappy one; besides being in love with Jude, she is physically disgusted by her husband, and, apparently, by sex in general.

Sue eventually leaves Phillotson for Jude. Sue and Jude spend some time living together without any sexual relationship; they are both afraid to get married because their family has a history of tragic unions, and think that being legally bound to one another might destroy their love. Jude eventually convinces Sue to sleep with him and, over the years, they have two children together. They are also bestowed with a child "of an intelligent age" from Jude's first marriage, whom Jude did not know about earlier. He is named Jude and nicknamed "Little Father Time".

Jude and Sue are socially ostracised for living together unmarried, especially after the children are born. Jude's employers always dismiss him when they find out, and landlords evict them. The precocious Little Father Time, believing that he and his half-siblings are the source of the family's woes, murders Sue's two children and commits suicide by hanging himself; and the suicide and murder note reads: "Done because we are too menny."[2][3]

Beside herself with grief, Sue turns to the church that has ostracised her and comes to believe that the children's deaths were divine retribution for her relationship with Jude. Although horrified at the thought of resuming her physical relationship with Phillotson, she nevertheless returns to him and becomes his wife again. Jude is devastated, and remarries Arabella in a drunken haze. After one final, desperate visit to Sue in freezing weather, Jude becomes seriously ill and dies within the year, whilst Sue has grown 'staid and worn' with Phillotson.

Reviews

Called "Jude the Obscene" by at least one reviewer,[4] Jude the Obscure received a harsh reception from scandalised critics; it is thought largely for this reason that Hardy made the decision to produce only poetry and drama for his remaining 32 years.

Jude was first published under the title The Simpletons; and then Hearts Insurgent in the European and American editions of Harper's New Monthly Magazine from December 1894 until November 1895. The initial, serialised edition was substantially different from the later novelized form. Many minor changes were made because the magazine publishers insisted — for moral reasons. Large portions of the plot were also different.

D. H. Lawrence, an admirer of Hardy, was puzzled by the character of Sue Bridehead, and attempted to analyse her sexual problem in his essay "A Study of Thomas Hardy" (1914).

At least one recent scholar has postulated that Jude borrowed heavily from an earlier novel The Wages of Sin by Lucas Malet.[5]

Film, TV or theatrical adaptations

The novel has been adapted into two major feature films:

References

  1. ^ Slack, Robert C. Nineteenth-Century Fiction, Vol. 11, No. 4 (Mar., 1957), pp. 261-275
  2. ^ http://www.online-literature.com/hardy/jude_obscure/44/
  3. ^ http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=TAL3P5RPnFQC&printsec=frontcover&dq=jude+the+obscure&cd=1#v=onepage&q=done%20because%20we%20are%20too%20menny&f=false
  4. ^ Book description of Jude the Obscure, edited by Cedric Watts (1999)
  5. ^ Schaffer, Talia. The Forgotten Female Aesthetes: Literary Culture in Late-Victorian England. University of Virginia Press, 2000.
  6. ^ Jude The Obscure (1971) at imdb.com
  7. ^ Jude (1996) at imdb.com

External links

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Jude the Obscure  
Author Thomas Hardy
Original title The Simpletons
Hearts Insurgent
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre(s) Tragedy
Publication date 1895
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
ISBN n/a
Preceded by Tess of the d'Urbervilles
Followed by The Well-Beloved

Jude the Obscure, the last of Thomas Hardy's novels, began as a magazine serial and was first published in book form in 1895. The book was burned publicly by William Walsham How, Bishop of Wakefield, in that same year.[1] Its hero, Jude Fawley, is a working-class young man who dreams of becoming a scholar. The two other main characters are his earthy wife, Arabella, and his cousin, Sue. Themes include class, scholarship, religion, marriage, and the modernisation of thought and society.

Contents

Plot introduction

The novel has an elaborately structured plot, in which subtle details and accidents lead to the characters' ruin. It also develops many different themes. These include how human loneliness and sexuality can stop a person from trying to fulfill his dreams, how, when free from the trap of marriage, one's dreams will not be fulfilled if one is of a lower status, how the educated classes are often more like sophists than intellectuals, how living a libertine life full of integrity and passion will be condemned as scandalous in traditional society, and how religion is nothing but a mistaken sense that the tragedies that wear down an individual are the result of having sinned against a higher being.

There are strong autobiographical references to Hardy's own life in Jude the Obscure. Like Jude, Hardy did not go to university; like Sue, Hardy's first wife, Emma Gifford, also became more and more religious as years passed.

Plot summary

The novel tells the story of Jude Fawley, a village stonemason in the southwest English region of Wessex who yearns to be a scholar at "Christminster", a city modelled on Oxford, England. In his spare time while working in his aunt's bakery, he teaches himself Greek and Latin. Before he can try to enter the university, the naïve Jude is manipulated, through a process he later calls erotolepsy, into marrying a rather coarse and superficial local girl, Arabella Donn, who deserts him within two years. By this time, he has abandoned the classics altogether.

After Arabella leaves him, Jude moves to Christminster and supports himself as a mason while studying alone, hoping to be able to enter the university later. There, he meets and falls in love with his free-spirited cousin, Sue Bridehead. Jude shortly introduces Sue to his former schoolteacher, Mr. Phillotson, whom she later marries. Sue is satisfied by the normality of her married life, but quickly finds the relationship an unhappy one; besides being in love with Jude, she is physically disgusted by her husband, and, apparently, by sex in general.

Sue eventually leaves Phillotson for Jude. Sue and Jude spend some time living together without any sexual relationship; they are both afraid to get married because their family has a history of tragic unions, and think that being legally bound to one another might destroy their love. Jude eventually convinces Sue to sleep with him and, over the years, they have two children together. They are also bestowed with a child "of an intelligent age" from Jude's first marriage, whom Jude did not know about earlier. He is named Jude and nicknamed "Little Father Time".

Jude and Sue are socially ostracised for living together unmarried, especially after the children are born. Jude's employers always dismiss him when they find out, and landlords evict them. The precocious Little Father Time, believing that he and his half-siblings are the source of the family's woes, murders Sue's two children and commits suicide by hanging himself; and the suicide and murder note reads: "Done because we are too menny."[2][3]

Beside herself with grief, Sue turns to the church that has ostracised her and comes to believe that the children's deaths were divine retribution for her relationship with Jude. Although horrified at the thought of resuming her physical relationship with Phillotson, she nevertheless returns to him and becomes his wife again. Jude is devastated, and remarries Arabella in a drunken haze. After one final, desperate visit to Sue in freezing weather, Jude becomes seriously ill and dies within the year, whilst Sue has grown 'staid and worn' with Phillotson.

Reviews

Called "Jude the Obscene" by at least one reviewer,[4] Jude the Obscure received a harsh reception from scandalised critics; it is thought largely for this reason that Hardy made the decision to produce only poetry and drama for his remaining 32 years.

Jude was first published under the title The Simpletons; and then Hearts Insurgent in the European and American editions of Harper's New Monthly Magazine from December 1894 until November 1895. The initial, serialised edition was substantially different from the later novelized form. Many minor changes were made because the magazine publishers insisted — for moral reasons. Large portions of the plot were also different.

D. H. Lawrence, an admirer of Hardy, was puzzled by the character of Sue Bridehead, and attempted to analyse her sexual problem in his essay "A Study of Thomas Hardy" (1914).

At least one recent scholar has postulated that Jude borrowed heavily from an earlier novel The Wages of Sin by Lucas Malet.[5]

Film, TV or theatrical adaptations

The novel has been adapted into two major feature films:

References

  1. ^ Slack, Robert C. Nineteenth-Century Fiction, Vol. 11, No. 4 (Mar., 1957), pp. 261-275
  2. ^ http://www.online-literature.com/hardy/jude_obscure/44/
  3. ^ http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=TAL3P5RPnFQC&printsec=frontcover&dq=jude+the+obscure&cd=1#v=onepage&q=done%20because%20we%20are%20too%20menny&f=false
  4. ^ Book description of Jude the Obscure, edited by Cedric Watts (1999)
  5. ^ Schaffer, Talia. The Forgotten Female Aesthetes: Literary Culture in Late-Victorian England. University of Virginia Press, 2000.
  6. ^ Jude The Obscure (1971) at imdb.com
  7. ^ Jude (1996) at imdb.com

External links


Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010

From Wikisource

Jude the Obscure
by Thomas Hardy
Information about this edition
Jude the Obscure is the last of Thomas Hardy's novels, begun as a magazine serial and first published in book form in 1895. The book was burnt publicly by the Bishop of Exeter in that same year. Its hero Jude Fawley is a lower-class young man who dreams of becoming a scholar. The two other main characters are his earthy wife, Arabella, and his intellectual cousin, Sue. Themes include class, scholarship, religion, marriage, and the modernisation of thought and society.
Excerpted from Jude the Obscure on Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.


Speaker Icon.svg one or more chapters are available in a spoken word format.

Jude the Obscure title page.jpg
PD-icon.svg This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1923.

The author died in 1928, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 80 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.


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