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Archived Group Reads 2014 > Jude The Obscure - Background

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Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) Please post anything that would help in the setting, time, and character development of the novel.


Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) Renee has kindly agreed to lead the discussion of Jude the Obscure. Thank you Renee!


message 3: by Lily (last edited Apr 27, 2014 04:27PM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 1289 comments http://www.victorianweb.org/victorian...

Here is the Victorian Web location focusing on Hardy. Many branches from here, including other WWWeb resources (e.g., 10 pages of thumbnails, many in Wessex).

I'd also suggest not missing the setting pictures here:
http://www.victorianweb.org/victorian...

"Thomas Hardy wrote that he found inspiration for the eponymous Jude the Obscure in Marius the Epicurean."

http://www.victorianweb.org/victorian...

Not an allusion I understand.


message 4: by Lily (last edited Apr 27, 2014 04:44PM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 1289 comments "Critical literature about Thomas Hardy’s fiction is diverse and vast in extent, and it has been changing gradually in emphasis and evaluation. It becomes apparent that every generation of critics sees something different in Hardy’s writing. This article surveys only some of the immense number of publications devoted to Hardy’s work." [Bold added.]

More here: http://www.victorianweb.org/victorian...

Have only skimmed, but will definitely return to these paragraphs, roughly chronological.


message 5: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2507 comments I think it may be useful to remind ourselves that Hardy grew up in the region he wrote about so lovingly. He knew it and its people well.


message 6: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 1289 comments If you have read Jude before or completed it recently, you may enjoy perusing this poem. Otherwise, you may prefer waiting at least until it is mentioned in the text. (Hope this is not a spoiler to someone who perhaps happens to know the poem extremely well, but not Jude.)

I can't get the text of the entire poem to load tonight, but you may have better success with Google and some link I haven't found yet.

from Epipsychidion By Percy Bysshe Shelley

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/...


message 7: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 1289 comments Everyman wrote: "I think it may be useful to remind ourselves that Hardy grew up in the region he wrote about so lovingly. He knew it and its people well."

I love that statement, particularly the first sentence, quite agreeing with it, and struggling mightily to figure out how it applies, or even does it, to Jude.


message 8: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 1289 comments A modern look at college struggles:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/08/opi...


message 9: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2507 comments Lily wrote: Everyman wrote: "I think it may be useful to remind ourselves that Hardy grew up in the region he wrote about so lovingly. He knew it and its people well."

I love that statement, particularly the first sentence, quite agreeing with it, and struggling mightily to figure out how it applies, or even does it, to Jude. "


The landscape, your implication is right, doesn't play as big a role in Jude (at least not yet) as it does in some of his other works (The Woodlanders, Return of the Native, several others), but I think his grasp of the people is very much on point.


message 10: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 1289 comments Everyman wrote: " but I think his grasp of the people is very much on point. ..."

Agreed. My innuendo applied to "wrote about it so lovingly."


message 11: by Lily (last edited May 16, 2014 08:15PM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 1289 comments This is a continuation of discussion of the process of writing Jude, as described by excerpts from Claire Tomalin's biography.

"For him it was not so much a matter of replacing Mrs. Henniker as adding another name to his pantheon. He needed a muse, the position Emma had once filled but did so no longer. Ideally his muse should also be his mistress -- as Mary Godwin became Shelley's -- and there is no doubt he longed to take hold of a woman and make her his own in defiance of the rules of the Church and conventional society. But Mrs. Henniker had taught him a lesson by her cool, definite withdrawal from anything more than flirtation, and he had to settle for admiring beautiful women, taking his inspiration from them, accepting their flattery when offered without considering its motives too closely, helping them where he could, and taking pleasure in being with them, talking with them and, if he was lucky, getting a hand to hold. He was now fifty-five years old. When he looked at himself he was dismayed by what he saw: his hair receding and thinning, and hi skin showing the creases of age. Yet his eyes remained bright and he still aspired to a youthful look, ...." (p252)

Is any of this relevant to the development of Jude, the book?


message 12: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 1289 comments Be careful of spoilers in this post if you are sensitive on the subject.

Pages 254-261 describe the novel and the critical reaction to it, but they do not really deal with how Hardy continued to write and develop his plot. I believe I saw somewhere else information on how/when he added some key plot elements near the end. I'll try and find that and come back and post, but it may be a few days -- this weekend has some other demands.

These do speak a bit to development: p254 "Reading Jude is like being hit in the face over and over again. I think Hardy intended this, although he expressed surprise at his earliest critics....."

A change from the original manuscript: pp254-5(view spoiler)


message 13: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 1289 comments "....It speaks sense about the painful difficulties of life for the poor and intellectually aspiring who have lost their roots in any place and their faith in any god. When Ruskin College was founded in Oxford for working men some years later, people wrote to Hardy saying it should be called after Jude, something he was rightly proud of...." p255 Ibid.


message 14: by Lily (last edited May 16, 2014 09:19PM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 1289 comments About how the final story may have come to Hardy:
Pp257-8 (view spoiler)

Has Tomalin overstepped in her descriptions or has she so completely absorbed her subject that she earned the right to speak thusly?



message 15: by Peter (new)

Peter Lily wrote: "About how the final story may have come to Hardy:
Pp257-8 "...he sent another letter to Gosse, thanking him for a review, regretting that Jude was not a good as it had been in his mind, and also s..."


Lily

Thank you very much for the patience, insight and knowledge you gave my question about Hardy. I feel that I am on more solid ground now. You pose a very interesting question about the point where biographers may overstep their descriptions. A strict presentation of factual material, letters and such is certainly necessary when discussing an author's life, and yet this approach, while accurate and correct, will lack colour, nuance and personal intellectual insight. For me, I want the colour, but only if I am convinced that the biographer is speaking from an objective base. Let's face it, if a biography was just a litany of facts few of us would probably complete the reading of it.

I have not read any Hardy biographies, but have read several on Dickens. I think Tomalin and even Ackroyd push the speculative boundries a bit too much for my liking concerning Dickens, yet both are scholars I respect very much. I plan to read the Tomalin Hardy because of your introduction.

Again, thank you for your insight and time.

Peter


message 16: by Renee, Moderator (new)

Renee M | 1933 comments Mod
*Adds Tomalin's biography of Hardy to basket at Amazon.* :)


message 17: by Lily (last edited Jun 23, 2014 11:54AM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 1289 comments Resources, biographical:

Thomas Hardy by Claire Tomalin. 2006.

Guardian review: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2006...

Thomas Hardy: The Guarded Life by Ralph Pite. 2007, Yale University Press.

Guardian review: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2006...

NYT review: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/18/boo...

Excerpt on Sue Bridehead: (view spoiler)

Excerpt on Arabella: (view spoiler)

Another frequently mentioned:
Thomas Hardy: A Biography by Michael Millgate. 1982.


message 18: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2507 comments Lily wrote: "Excerpt on Sue Bridehead: (view spoiler)
"


Lots to think about in that fairly short little extract. Thanks for posting.


message 19: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2507 comments Lily wrote: "Not sure I agree with Pite's assessmen [of Arabella], but find it of interest to consider."

I'm actually more in agreement with his assessment of Arabella than of Sue.

But I do agree with him that they form an almost diametrically opposed pair.


message 20: by Lily (last edited May 24, 2014 08:07AM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 1289 comments Everyman wrote: "I'm actually more in agreement with his assessment of Arabella than of Sue..."

I think I understand where you are coming from. The one on Sue was surprising to me, and I have to think a bit to figure out Pite's justification for what he writes -- and whether I agree. My problem with the assessment of Arabella is the extent to which Hardy was playing the either/or game in depicting womanhood or rather just using extremes so certain attributes and their effects could be more obviously observed. I find it a bit difficult to perceive Emma was so blatantly and deliberately compared to Arabella as Pite seems to claim.


message 21: by Lily (last edited Jun 23, 2014 12:20PM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 1289 comments Just finished watching the second disk of the BBC version of Jude the Obscure. It has been several days since I started it. Certainly a fine production that seemed faithful to the spirit of the original, if not always the detail. Jude as a character seems clearer to me after the viewing. Arabella felt a bit different -- the expressions of her manipulations toward own objectives almost softer and more realistic/believable than the text. Sue, on the other hand, feels even more perplexing as a character or representation of a real live person. Richard Phillotson comes across particularly humanely, and I can see that, if one had seen the film before reading the story, that portrayal could impact one's reading. I don't believe that there is very much about Phillotson's original encouragement of Jude towards his dreams.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0066674/


message 22: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 1289 comments Some old postcards here showing the architecture at Oxford (3-4 scattered among next several scenes).

https://www.flickr.com/photos/strider...


message 23: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 1289 comments Yes, I'm still playing around with Jude. Finally finished a book of criticism that I can recommend:

Margaret Elvy's Thomas Hardy's Jude the Obscure: A Critical Study

I continue to be puzzled by the figure of Sue Brideshead. This book both reinforced some of my own observations while bringing to my attention those of others, even as some aspects remain mysterious to me.

I would consult this book again on any future reread of Jude. Like Hardy himself, I believe Ely offers insights I haven't fully plumbed.

She particularly suggests this resource, which I did not pursue: The Sense of Sex: Feminist Perspectives on Hardy by Margaret R. Higonnet


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