Works of Thomas Hardy discussion

Far From the Madding Crowd
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Far from the Madding Crowd > Far From the Madding Crowd: Book Discussion

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message 1: by Amy (last edited Aug 01, 2014 12:46PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Amy | 120 comments Mod
Far from the Madding Crowd  by Thomas Hardy Far From the Madding Crowd was Hardy's fourth novel and first major success (those of you who have read the first 3 with us can understand why). The Guardian lists it as the #10 most romantic novel of all time, and BBC lists it as #48 on their list of Big Reads. It's a pleasantly pastoral novel which features Hardy's semi-imaginary area of "Wessex" for the first time. Only Tess has inspired more movies.

Blurb:
Independent and spirited Bathsheba Everdene has come to Weatherbury to take up her position as a farmer on the largest estate in the area. Her bold presence draws three very different suitors: the gentleman-farmer Boldwood, soldier-seducer Sergeant Troy and the devoted shepherd Gabriel Oak. Each, in contrasting ways, unsettles her decisions and complicates her life, and tragedy ensues, threatening the stability of the whole community. The first of his works set in Wessex, Hardy's novel of swiftpassion and slow courtship is imbued with his evocative descriptions of rural life and landscapes, and with unflinching honesty about sexual relationships.

Published:
First published in 1874 as a positively criticized magazine serial.

Number of Pages:
480 (we'll read this over 2 months since it's over 400 pages).

Group Reading Period:
August and September of 2014

Movies:
*North of Cheyenne (announced)
*Tamara Drewe (2010) ...this one is based on the modern comic strip series, Tamara Drewe, which drew its inspiration from Far from the Madding Crowd ... Netflix
*Far From the Madding Crowd (post-production 2014)
*Far From the Madding Crowd (1998) ... Netflix Save
*Far From the Madding Crowd (1967) ... Netflix
*Far From the Madding Crowd (1915)
*Far from the Madding Crowd (1909)

Where to Find the Book:
*eBook available to download free on the GoodReads website: https://www.goodreads.com/ebooks/down...
*Audiobook available to download free from LibriVox: https://librivox.org/search?q=far%20f...


message 2: by Amy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Amy | 120 comments Mod
Okay. Who's reading with us? How far are you in the book? What are your thoughts so far?

I'm really enjoying the pastoral theme. I have this strange thing for stories about sheep farmers, but they're usually Australian. I'm up to about chapter 10. I found the bar conversation a bit of a drag (even if it did have funny bits), and I may be finally ready to ditch my Dublin-born audio narrator for good. I can't wait to see how everything coalesces into one of the greatest romances of all time. Of course, I have nobody yet to hope to win Bathsheba's affections yet except the nice shepherd. Onward, onward.


Ana-Maria (ana-mariaa) I read this a year ago and I can say I enjoyed it more than A pair of blue eyes.


Maxine (caffeine_chapters) I've just done this as an audio, narrated by Nathaniel Parker who played Gabriel Oak in the excellent BBC Adaptation. He did a great job of the West Country accents :)


message 5: by Amy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Amy | 120 comments Mod
Maxine wrote: "I've just done this as an audio, narrated by Nathaniel Parker who played Gabriel Oak in the excellent BBC Adaptation. He did a great job of the West Country accents :)"

Where'd you find it? Online? CD?


Dave (davedo) Amy wrote: "Okay. Who's reading with us?"

I read the book way back in 1978 so I imagine it will seem like a new read now ;-) I'm backed up a bit from my long trudge through Infinite Jest, but I'll
get to it within your allotted time.


message 7: by Clint (new) - added it

Clint Paul | 1 comments I'm reading this book right now . I'm almost halfway .
I can clearly say that this book has high spirits and it's filled with pure romance. Ah , such circumstances and situations are created by thomas hardy.I know , i'm no good to describe the beauty of this book.Like gabriel oak , boldwood and Sargent troy i'm also in blind love with this book .
:)


Duane (tduaneparkeryahoocom) | 3 comments Gabirel is smitten with Bathsheba right off and I give him credit, he's not bashful, he goes for it. She does lead him on a bit but you get the feeling she has her sights set higher than a young sheep farmer.


message 9: by Amy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Amy | 120 comments Mod
Duane wrote: "Gabirel is smitten with Bathsheba right off and I give him credit, he's not bashful, he goes for it. She does lead him on a bit but you get the feeling she has her sights set higher than a young sh..."

He did, after all, wake up in her arms.

Funny how, time and again, Hardy has his characters deciding to propose marriage to what appears to be the first stranger who has ever come along in their lives. I guess all local prospects in their small town have been exhausted and they figure they need to act now or possibly never get another opportunity again.


message 10: by Dave (last edited Aug 04, 2014 10:49AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Dave (davedo) The 2nd audio version in the Librivox set is narrated by good old Tadhg Hynes. I think I'm almost attuned to his accent now, and it does have a certain charm, so I likely will go with that.


message 11: by Amy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Amy | 120 comments Mod
Dave wrote: "The 2nd audio version in the Librivox set is narrated by good old Tadhg Hynes. I think I'm almost attuned to his accent now, and it does have a certain charm, so I likely will go with that."

I found myself missing him this morning when I listened to a new narrator ... especially his laugh. But, ya know, I have to say that I enjoyed catching more of the dialogue, especially when they start in on their colloquial speech bits. His accent goes very native when he gets to the colloquial speech bits.

It's interesting that we so rarely analyze people's voices in our day-to-day dealings. But the Librivox recordings that have multiple narrators give me a more heightened awareness of it. I find myself making little mini-histories for the various narrators. Why are they narrating? Where are they from? Have they actually read the whole book or just this one chapter? Has this one chapter tempted them to read the whole book or is it such a bum chapter that they'll never try the author again? Is it a school project? Do they live alone or is someone listening from the other end of the house?


message 12: by Wouter (last edited Aug 05, 2014 06:12AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Wouter (rookreading) | 17 comments I'm at 30%. The main difference between Far from the Madding Crowd and A Pair of Blue Eyes and Desperate Remedies is that in Far from the Madding Crowd there is more than one plot line. This makes the novel more dense than the previous three.

The triangle of two men and a woman remains steadfast as well as fate turning against the (somewhat foolish) characters. The pivotal one is of course (view spoiler) .

I think that in Far from the Madding Crowd Hardy also has found his rural and nature voice. In Under the Greenwood Tree it was a bit rustic. Some descriptions read like paintings from landscape painter John Constable, for example The Hay Wain. These descriptions represent the perpetual flow of nature, the rhythm of time whilst the people face all their personal (mediocre in relation to nature) problems.


message 13: by Amy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Amy | 120 comments Mod
Yes, I agree. He's definitely has found his rural/nature voice here. In places, it feels like a different author wrote this than wrote the first novels. He's definitely growing in his writing ability. I love the pastoral scenes and the bit of humor. I just got to the chapter about the Valentine. I had such a big smile on my face the entire time I was reading it because it had such mischievous life in it. If I throw this hymnal up in the air and it lands open, I'll ... I always have to wonder if the best bits of novels ... the little personal anecdotes ... are stories from the author's life.


message 14: by Amy (last edited Aug 07, 2014 01:20PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Amy | 120 comments Mod
Bathsheba times Oak to see how quickly he can shear a sheep. He clocks in at 23 minutes which Bathsheba says is so much faster than the usual time of 30 minutes. I'm thinking Hardy must have never been involved in the business of sheep shearing. And neither have I, but I've watched enough sheep shearing on television and in movies (McLeod's Daughters, The Thorn Birds, etc.) to know that it really only takes a couple of minutes with electric shears and just 3-5 minutes by hand with blade shears. It also looks like you'd kill your back pretty quickly in the process. I'd never want to do it.

Sheep shearing video (with blade shears): http://youtu.be/2h_MGKJSyk0

If Bathsheba has 550 sheep (the current average number of sheep on Scottish sheep farms ... yes, I know Wessex isn't in Scotland), it would take 8 people 26 non-stop hours to shear them all at the rate of 23 minutes per sheep. However, if it's only taking 5 minutes per sheep, it would only take 5.7 non-stop hours to sheer all the sheep. At 3 minutes per sheep, they'd all be done in 3.4 hours.


Wouter (rookreading) | 17 comments Although not giving minutes The Book of the Farm, a quite reliable source from the 19th century, states that: "To shear 20 sheep a-day is considered a good day's work." ( Book of the Farm ), that would mean 6 hours of work when you would count 20 minutes per sheep, which seems a good day's work.

The difference may be in the breed of sheep (I assume sheep have been bred over the years to ease the shearing) and the development in shearing techniques.


message 16: by Amy (last edited Aug 07, 2014 02:50PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Amy | 120 comments Mod
Reddleman wrote: "Although not giving minutes The Book of the Farm, a quite reliable source from the 19th century, states that: "To shear 20 sheep a-day is considered a good day's work." (
Book of the Farm
), th..."


This says that it does depend on the type of sheep, technique, and whether or not they ever sharpened their shears: http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/shearing/...

I'm still guessing Hardy was never involved in the sheep shearing process. I'll have to go see if any of his biographies mention it or not.


message 17: by Dave (new) - rated it 5 stars

Dave (davedo) I'm afraid that Hardy doesn't bear up well for me on a 2nd reading, I'm not sure why. Now I find some of his devices (such as hiding in plain sight behind a hedge to learn more than reasonable, done in several books) too much to swallow and I'm not fond of any of the characters to date.

One odd little thing: I took a timeout to read Bellwether by Connie Willis and so far she's mentioned the sheep over the cliff incident twice.

I'm going on a Hardy sabbatical - there are simply too many eBooks coming in at once from the library.


message 18: by Amy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Amy | 120 comments Mod
Dave wrote: "I'm afraid that Hardy doesn't bear up well for me on a 2nd reading, I'm not sure why. Now I find some of his devices (such as hiding in plain sight behind a hedge to learn more than reasonable, don..."

I have to agree. I think a little too much Hardy at once is hazardous to one's appreciation of Hardy. I haven't read any Hardy this week. I think I'm feeling a bit of Hardy burn out. I'm sort of game to put our reading on hiatus for a while so that we can love him more later. I know Reddleman was wanting to switch to Virginia Woolf for a while, and I had been thinking of giving her a try as well. So maybe it's best we come back to Hardy in January or so? Thoughts? Anyone?

Funny that Connie Willis has her sheep going over cliffs, too. I wonder if she's read Far from the Madding Crowd. Or maybe it's common for sheep to follow each other over cliffs? After all, the term "sheep" has the connotation of being a blind follower.


message 19: by Dave (new) - rated it 5 stars

Dave (davedo) Amy wrote: "I wonder if she's read Far from the Madding Crowd."

Amy, sorry, I didn't make myself clear - she directly mentioned the book in her references.


message 20: by Amy (last edited Aug 16, 2014 11:19AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Amy | 120 comments Mod
Dave wrote: "Amy wrote: "I wonder if she's read Far from the Madding Crowd."

Amy, sorry, I didn't make myself clear - she directly mentioned the book in her references."


Oh. Ha. She is quite a redundant writer. You'll probably hear about it a couple more times before book's end. ;)


message 21: by Dave (new) - rated it 5 stars

Dave (davedo) Amy wrote: "I know Reddleman was wanting to switch to Virginia Woolf for a while, and I had been thinking of giving her a try as well"

I'll be game for Woolf in a few weeks. I just bought a Kindle collection of her complete works.


message 22: by Amy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Amy | 120 comments Mod
Dave wrote: "Amy wrote: "I know Reddleman was wanting to switch to Virginia Woolf for a while, and I had been thinking of giving her a try as well"

I'll be game for Woolf in a few weeks. I just bought a Kindle..."


Funny that we're all heading in the same direction. I think Reddleman was going to rekindle an old Woolf group that had gone dormant and try to drum up some interest. I've never read Woolf before, but I keep running into references to her work and wanted to give it a try, beginning with Orlando which piqued my interest the most. I'll definitely get the complete works if I end up liking her as I think I shall.

Years ago, I bought the book The Hours, but I heard it was a response to Mrs. Dalloway and figured I should read it first. Then I bought Mrs. Dalloway and gave up when I heard that it was written in response to the infinitely unreadable Ulysses.


Wouter (rookreading) | 17 comments Actually I'm on track with Hardy. I have just bought The Hand of Ethelberta and a biography. But as Far from the Madding Crowd is due to the end of September, I can have a Hardy break.

I am reading Hermione Lee's biography of Virginia Woolf at the moment and have read all Woolf's novels except for The Years (some quirkiness on my side wanting to have an enjoyment for the future).

My suggestion would be To the Lighthouse or Mrs Dalloway as both novels are typical Woolfian. Maybe we can continue the discussion here: Moments of Reading.


Brian Reynolds | 92 comments I read FFTMC along with his other big novels, Tess, Jude, Mayor and Native, in 1978-1980. I love Jude, liked Tess and Mayor but though meh on FFTMC and Return. I then read Woodlanders and Greenwood then nothing for 20 years.

The last 10 years, I've slowly read the rest of Hardy's novels, which I found surprisingly enjoyable. There are lower expectations when reading the "leser" works. I also reread Jude, which I consider a great novel, in my top 10.

I've decided to give Native and FFTMC a second try with this group. I found FFTMC tedious at first, with similarities to other works, 3 suitors etc... Also, I may prefer the ones with less conversations by the rustics. However, about 40% through I found the book much more compelling. I realized I didn't remember all the plot details and starting really enjoying it. I found the end writing a little meh, but will post more toward the end of September when I feel confortable revealing spoilers.


message 25: by Amy (last edited Aug 27, 2014 12:39PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Amy | 120 comments Mod
Brian wrote: "I read FFTMC along with his other big novels, Tess, Jude, Mayor and Native, in 1978-1980. I love Jude, liked Tess and Mayor but though meh on FFTMC and Return. I then read Woodlanders and Greenwoo..."

Yes, FFTMC was tedious at the beginning, but it does really pick up. I have to agree about being less enamoured with conversations with the townspeople. Some of it can be a little humorous at times, but I usually wish it would just go away quickly.

FFTMC has definitely renewed my faith in Hardy. I was starting to get a little bored with his common themes (3 suitors, etc.) But I have to wonder if he's not writing with some of the same themes over and over in an attempt to get it right. This one definitely has a more satisfying ending: (view spoiler). I really need to actually read the biographies I've got of his in order to see where the 3 suitor idea comes from in real life. Is he attempting to rewrite his own life with more satisfying endings? Everyone certainly seems to get their just deserts in FFTMC.

I'm still mulling over writing a review.


David | 17 comments I read all the major novels as an undergraduate in the late 1970s but have re-read a couple in the intervening years as well as comparing my memories of them with various screen adaptations. FFTMC with Julie Christie, Terence Stamp and Alan Bates** magnificent, the Natassia Kinski Tess, less so.

Inspired by a recent holiday in Dorset, I've just finished Under The Greenwood Tree and throughout the 3 suitors dilemma reminded me of FFTMC. The references to this above have verified my thinking.

** Ray Davies used Terry and Julie as the names in Waterloo Sunset as a result of seeing this film, it is said. Both from 1967. True or bluff, I wonder?


message 27: by Brian (last edited Sep 01, 2014 12:29PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Brian Reynolds | 92 comments I've always thought one benefit of reading a novel prior to seeing the movie version was that you are able to picture the scenes and characters as you see them through the novelists words. Yet this time, I merely had to read about the remake of FFTMC they are releasing next year and it resulted in my visualizing the actor playing Boldwood when reading about him in the novel. Yet I didn't picture either Christie or the current actress as Bathsheba, maybe because Hardy consistently mentions Bathsheba's black hair, and I don't normally picture either actress with black hair. I did try visualizing the actresses, but I kept on visualizing an anonymous dark haired attractive women. It may be because I've been watching the new Boldwood actor weekly on a Showtime TV series he stars in. (Names omitted to allow self-visualation, if desired)

I found myself wondering if they may advertise the new movie as the story of "the original Everdene heroine," to draw in the Hunger Games set.


message 28: by Ann (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ann | 5 comments Brian wrote: "I've always thought one benefit of reading a novel prior to seeing the movie version was that you are able to picture the scenes and characters as you see them through the novelists words. Yet this..."
See the PBS version w/ Paloma Baeza as Bathsheba, Nathaniel Parker as Gabriel and Nigel Terry as Boldwood. It can't be beat.


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