Jude, the Obscure was the first book I've read off my phone. That's right, my phone. I had wanted to read a Thomas Hardy novel while I was travellingJude, the Obscure was the first book I've read off my phone. That's right, my phone. I had wanted to read a Thomas Hardy novel while I was travelling and carrying around a huge book sounded unwieldly, so I checked out the e-book from library and downloaded it to my iPad. Then I forgot the stupid iPad, and after having a moment of temp panic, I realized I could download the app to phone. So, instead of using my phone as a photo-taking, text-device, I finally accepted the challenge of maximizing the smartness of my phone and I read a freaking Thomas Hardy novel.
It went much smoother than you would expect. Of course, holding a book incites a whole series of physical feelings associated with reading a book, but reading on your phone allows you to maintain a sense of always reading in the now. Since you cannot see how many pages are left to read (yes, it does tell you how pages are left in a chapter, but those are cellphone pages and you learn to ignore them), you are constantly picking up the “book” and reading as though there is no beginning or end. Also, it makes carrying around the “book” really easy and whipping out your phone to read in the train, while waiting in line, or in a restaurant really easy. Plus, Hardy’s language is funny and clear and seems to translate well for the screen. The one big downside of reading on your phone is that people will think you’re not doing anything serious and will be more likely to interrupt you.
The novel itself has a similar trajectory to other Hardy novels I have read in which the hero who desires become a unique individual struggles mightily against a stifling society which wants to keep the hero in his lowly place. The ups and downs, the disappointments and loves of sincere Jude did keep me emotionally attached to his story and outcome. I don’t know why he is obscure though; perhaps because his desire for learning and education makes him uncertain, unknowable? In any case, like the other Hardy novels, Jude’s dreams are lofty and beautiful, but his path to get there is riddled with irritating obstacles and tragedy. It seems the others around him cannot give him the society for him to reach this dream. In the end, you feel defeated and sad. ...more
Surprisingly good and introspective. I read this for the Book Riot's challenge to read a book written by an author under 25; Radiguet was 18 when he wSurprisingly good and introspective. I read this for the Book Riot's challenge to read a book written by an author under 25; Radiguet was 18 when he wrote this. At first, it comes off like a French "Cather in the Rye" but the insightful and psychological clarity of the language comes through. It is understandable that Radiguet was touted highly by his modernist contemporaries. Quite an enjoyable, yet tense read....more
Not sure why I had this on my to-read list, I suspect it was included in another listing of strange Victorian literature or that descriptions of the bNot sure why I had this on my to-read list, I suspect it was included in another listing of strange Victorian literature or that descriptions of the book were mysterious and adventurous. It mostly interesting to me because of when it was written and the biases and shortcomings of the writer’s thought. The description of the landscape and lands in which the story takes place piques one’s curiosity; but the whole millennium-old love story was a real downer. ...more
A little word about the actual book I read. I had purchased it from a sidewalk sale in the Castro neighborhood in San Francisco. It is one of those olA little word about the actual book I read. I had purchased it from a sidewalk sale in the Castro neighborhood in San Francisco. It is one of those old classic hardcover library series and the cover had been stabbed a number of times. The stabs are so deep that a few pierce at least 60 pages into the novel. And just for good measure, there a few stabs on the back cover too. I cannot think of why a previous reader would be so vexed to attack this book, the story at times was very frustrating, but not enough (for me) to puncture the book.
A few words about the story: reading this I realized how lucky I am to live now as opposed to then (19th C). The lack of agency, the lack of education, the lack of opportunities, the oppressive social strictures- all very depressing, especially for a woman. The second item that came to mind while reading this is my awareness that novels written around this time and earlier are not so much representatives of reality, but ideas. None of these early novels are realistic in plot, but are concepts being worked out by the writer. For the contemporary reader, some of the plot events may seem ridiculous, but knowing that the plot is a structure to show a thought, may make it more palatable. In this novel, Hardy uses the plot to reveal some of the hypocrisy of religion and its detrimental effects on individuals. Tess is a stand-in for a natural spirituality, one based on the land and looks upon a person as naturally good. While Angel Clare represents man’s intellect in revolt of Christianity, however, despite his rebellion, his morality is still shaped by the religion. The dairy farm is their Eden and the subsequent fall results in Tess going through purgatory (working at the farm in Flintcomb-Ash) while Clare works out the kinks of his personal philosophy in the wonderfully heathen country of Brazil. The crime Tess does commit is greater than the act she was judged for and all ends in tragedy for her- just to make sure you get the point.
Of course, there are other themes throughout the novel that one can delve into and write papers about- hence why the classics have such a long shelf life. Overall, Tess is a pretty enjoyable read that reels you in with sympathy for the characters and although the novel plot is not realistic, the details get you close to inhabiting that place and time (Wessex England). ...more
I read this book a few years ago and while I was reading it I was thinking- why read this? I rather disliked it- reading it was torture. I understandI read this book a few years ago and while I was reading it I was thinking- why read this? I rather disliked it- reading it was torture. I understand that it being published in 1935, that it is an allegory of the irrationality and violence that overcame Europe between the two world wars. However now, the minute parade of grotesqueries is excessive. It is also perhaps the only book I know where the repulsion and malice the author has for his characters and for his work is so pulsatingly palpable. If someone were to tell me that Canetti was an absolute misanthropist, I would not be surprised. Anyway, after a few years of puzzling this book out, I found the perfect review from NYRB:
I was flagged, I guess quoting from an article is a no-no according to GoodReads, so you will have to go to the link to read it yourself, which is sad because I don't think many people will look at the link and the quote was really entertaining. I can't even imagine why anyone would be so up-in-arms. It was obviously a quote, as I italicized it and put quote lines. But I guess there are readers of reviews who's only interest in life is to flag other reviews. So fitting, considering the book, I hope you feel important, good day. ...more
When I was 11 or so, my father received a pile of paperback, from whom or why, I never knew. The paperbacks lined up on a shelf in the basement guestrWhen I was 11 or so, my father received a pile of paperback, from whom or why, I never knew. The paperbacks lined up on a shelf in the basement guestroom. During the summers, I would be stuck at home without access to books, so I started to read the paperbacks. They were for adults and covered grown-up themes. I remember most of the books: Bellefleur by Joyce Carol Oats; Goodbye, Janette by Harold Robbins; Cashelmara by Susan Howatch; Falling in Place by Anne Beattie; and this book, Ragtime. There may have been another book, but I do not remember. I read these books over and over during the summer for a few years until I was able to get my hands on some other books.
As an adult, I noticed that Ragtime was often on top 100 novel lists, so I thought to myself, I will re-read this book, (or really finally read it) since I could not remember anything about it from my juvenile reads. So that day came. When I started reading this book, certain memories started coming back to me from the dark depths of forgotten books plots buried deep in my mind. I remembered that the main family of which the book’s plot swings around have no names. They are called: Father, Mother, Grandfather, Younger Brother.
Now, I can see why I did not remember much of this book, I think I just didn’t get it. It has a pretty complicated plot based around 1902 and involves historical characters such Houdini, Emma Goldman, J.P. Morgan, and more. The family is a stand in for typical white American values and its intersection with the changing history around it. The emerging minorities, labor uprising, women’s rights, etc.
It takes a lifetime wresting with becoming an adult, facing the complex world and its changing center of meaning to get this book. The conflicts that come up are not that far from where are here, over a hundred years later. This was an enjoyable read, I don’t think I can say the same for the rest of those other paperbacks that were on that shelf. I actually felt sad in the end. Now I can check off this book from the 100s lists and not feel guilty. ...more
There are many very good essays and reviews written about this book, I could not possibly say anything to add, see three good links at the bottom of mThere are many very good essays and reviews written about this book, I could not possibly say anything to add, see three good links at the bottom of my “review”. I can only speak of my experience, which I suppose is why goodreads exists, to capture our fleeting reading life in hopes of sharing it with a few good allies and perhaps to be a memory jostler in the future. I find it helpful to read what little lines of thoughts of a book I have read years back, to remember and to re-think of what I feel about it now, which was the future. II also wish I took better notes on how I was inspired to read a book, I could create a lovely conceptual map of how books come to my attention, but alas, I need to pay better attention.
The Leopard was a book that has been knocking around my bookscape for sometime, I suspect the final push was an article in the NYRB, but I cannot say for certain. I brought this book along on a trip to Paris, thinking that it would be dense and heavy and it would be fitting for sleepless, jetlagged nights. I was wrong. Although written around the 1950s, the novel takes place in Sicily @ 1860, chronicalling the royal family of Salina’s descent; it is novel of memory, nostalgia and loss. I was intimidated and anticipated that it would be stuffy and a bit old-fashioned, but The Leopard is quite a treasure. I was struck by the lucidity of the writing, not baroque, but poetically descriptive and touched with humor. The characters were written so humanely that I was sad to leave them at the end. And the story is a good balance of relationships and of the political environment of Sicily and Italy at that pivotal time before unification. It was a joy to read and a sadness to finish reading. PS. pay attention to the dog.