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Bookclub: The discussion of Jude The Obscure

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Offline Susanne Reading The Rose Petal Beach by Dorothy Koomson
14 Mar 2013, 03:38 PM | Post: #1

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Bookclub: The discussion of Jude The Obscure

The discussion is now open. Jude The Obscure by Thomas Hardy.

Remember that we will not vote for a new bookclub book until April.
A book is like a garden carried in the pocket. ~Chinese Proverb
Offline Susanne Reading The Rose Petal Beach by Dorothy Koomson
14 Mar 2013, 07:20 PM | Post: #2

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RE: Bookclub: The discussion of Jude The Obscure

I will start by saying that I'm enjoying this book, yes it's slow but the writing is beautiful and it brings me right inside Jude. I read it many years ago, but am finding a new connection. I love the slow pace.

As for the dialect, it's not hard to follow, in fact, it's written as you would pronounce , so easy to understand.

I'm looking forward to getting to know Jude.
A book is like a garden carried in the pocket. ~Chinese Proverb
Offline Cathy Reading travels in Elysium by William Azuski
14 Mar 2013, 10:13 PM | Post: #3

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RE: Bookclub: The discussion of Jude The Obscure

I've got a paper copy but I've downloaded a Kindle copy for this read. Looking forward to re-visiting a wonderful novel. Just been googling it and apparently in its day it was known as "Jude the Obscene" and sold in brown paper bags.
Offline Todd Young Reading Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan
15 Mar 2013, 10:14 AM | Post: #4

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RE: Bookclub: The discussion of Jude The Obscure

This post was last modified: 15 Mar 2013 10:15 AM by Todd Young.
I love this novel. I think "litte father time" is an extraordinary character, and I remember being absolutely shocked by the outcome of the novel.

Looking forward to revisiting it.
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Offline B J Burton Reading Complete Works of H P Lovecraft
15 Mar 2013, 10:56 AM | Post: #5

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RE: Bookclub: The discussion of Jude The Obscure

It's certainly a slow read - it flatly refuses to be hurried. I'm sure it won't suit many readers today who like to read a lot of books in a short time.
I'm finding it a bit ponderous and over-earnest. The large number of quotations from texts I don't know make it heavy going, but there are lighter moments - 'The configuration of the landlord showed that he, too, like his customers, was becoming affected by the liquors he retailed.'
The characters are complex and fascinating. Still a way for me to go.
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Offline B J Burton Reading Complete Works of H P Lovecraft
16 Mar 2013, 01:52 PM | Post: #6

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RE: Bookclub: The discussion of Jude The Obscure

Got to the end. The last 25% was much more gripping.
It's a curious book that left me with mixed emotions. As Cathy said it created a stir on publication and was labelled obscene. The Bishop of Wakefield burned a copy in public, but I don't know what the bish (or anyone else) was objecting to.
There is biting social comment aimed at the pressures imposed on anyone not conforming to social norms and the refusal of the academic institutions to allow access to a working man.
The use of English is beautiful at times and although the general tone is dour and sad, there are lighter moments, such as -
'The landlord of the lodging, who had heard that they were a queer couple, had doubted if they were married at all, especially as he had seen Arabella kiss Jude one evening when she had taken a little cordial; and he was about to give them notice to quit, till by chance overhearing her one night haranguing Jude in rattling terms, and ultimately flinging a shoe at his head, he recognized the note of genuine wedlock.'
The tragic ending is very moving.
A striking weakness is that the plot depends upon a series of unbelievable coincidences.
Regardless of the storyline, the book provides an interesting insight into life in the 1890s. From the efficiency of the postal service and public transport it seems that things have gone downhill.
Reading Jude was time well spent.
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RE: Bookclub: The discussion of Jude The Obscure

I've just finished reading and wow, its re-ignited that love of Thomas Hardy that had been sleeping.

He was years ahead of the times when he wrote this, but if we're honest there where a lot of modern day parallels that can be made.

The ending was sad, but based on the characters involved and the course of events, didn't really come as a suprise.
Offline Notoriety Reading Five Days in May by Andrew Adonis
18 Mar 2013, 05:43 PM | Post: #8

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RE: Bookclub: The discussion of Jude The Obscure

Discussion has been a bit slow and I guess some may still be reading it.  I've been a bit busy lately.

I read it a few years back and it still made a huge impact.  Partly it's the bleakness of the fate of the two main characters but for me it's also the extraordinary emotional tension between Jude and Sue.  The possibility of a mutually satisfactory relationship but then it slips between their fingers.  On one level it's boy meets girl, loses girl, meets girl again etc.  On the other it's the pressure of social customs and the unintended consequences of actions - though they have some idea.  For me it's how Hardy interweaves the personal story with the almost social campaign for tolerance.  Occasionally it started to feel like Hardy was preaching to the reader but then I was drawn back into Jude and Sue and how they were trying to make something that was increasingly appearing as impossible work between them.  I wasn't so bothered about the coincidences as they were meetings between the characters rather than dei ex machina as sometimes happened in Nicholas Nickleby we read here recently.  Hard Times touches on some similar issues to Jude but this feels different, more like the beginning of the modern novel - almost. 

What do we all think about Jude?  The best that could be said boils down to something like "God loves a trier" - and did he try!  So I felt quite sorry for him at the beginning but by the end I felt a bit that he could have read the writing on the wall - he probably would have done if it had been in Latin!  Rolleyes  Sue thought that a platonic relationship was a possibility - Jude would have been happy discussing Plato but wanted something "more", rather delicately alluded to.  And he's not very good at seeing through Arabella - a wonderful juxtaposition with Sue.  Jude can work within the inert physical world of stone and of course the realm of ideas that lets him down so badly.  He thinks he understands women and in so many ways he does, missing some vital ones, but he does not understand himself. 

Tony
Arab proverb: Only a fool lends his books and only a fool returns them.
Offline Susanne Reading The Rose Petal Beach by Dorothy Koomson
18 Mar 2013, 07:14 PM | Post: #9

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RE: Bookclub: The discussion of Jude The Obscure

Thank you Tony for the review,I now feel the need to keep reading. I'm currently at the point where I want to shake Jude and tell him to look at what's happening to him, being taken for a fool by Arabella. This is something I really think about, the fact she tricked him and his innocence.

I'm not too far into the novel, but I find this aspect fascinating. A farmer girl, not of any intellect, exhibit with a lot of cunning, who snared Jude because of her wish to better herself and poor Jude being taken in because of innocence and lust. And, what's more, the fact they separated. Was that common in those days?

Jude was obviously not a a wealthy man but was thought by Arabella to have a good future as a scholar and Arabella is dissatisfied when she finds he is poor and her hope of marrying well is thwarted.

Arabella' s cunning and Jude' s innocence, although he now understands what he has taken on, is fascinating. We could probably link that to the present day.
A book is like a garden carried in the pocket. ~Chinese Proverb
Offline B J Burton Reading Complete Works of H P Lovecraft
19 Mar 2013, 09:30 AM | Post: #10

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RE: Bookclub: The discussion of Jude The Obscure

(18 Mar 2013 05:43 PM)Notoriety Wrote:  What do we all think about Jude? 
Tony

I liked and admired him - and felt sorry for him.
Despite coming from a troubled family background, and having to live with a great-aunt from an early age, we soon find that he is instinctively kind to animals and is inspired by the village teacher to develop a love of learning.
He teaches himself Latin and Greek, reads widely, but also becomes a skilled craftsman as a stonemason. The university colleges of Christminster become symbolic to him of the inherent good of learning. Even after they reject him, the academic aura of the colleges keeps drawing him back.
He has a passionate nature and that drives him to act too impulsively for his own good.
He's unlucky with the two women in his life. Arabella is streetwise, physical, but offers no intellectual stimulation. Sue brings more than enough intellect, but no passion.
The novel is well named. Poor Jude comes from an obscure family background and is doomed to remain an unnoticed member of society.
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