Monday, April 18, 2011

Jude the Obscure

Jude the Obscure (Thrift Edition)Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
Evan’s ESS = 5.1 out of 10
Erin’s ESS = out of 10
Content = R
(Adult Content, Violence, Controversial Subject Matters, Jaw Dropping Moment)

Why: Even before starting Jude the Obscure, we were familiar with the controversial nature of the plot. Because of this, we felt a little more at ease knowing what to expect, and set our expectations accordingly. Kind of like when your eyes involuntarily squint during a horror movie right before the super nasty bad guy jumps out from behind the closet door. Unfortunately for us, the bad guy didn’t jump out of the closet like we thought... He attacked us from behind without so much as a courtesy attack cry.

Jude the Obscure tells of an obscure man tricked into marriage and abandoned two years later. From there, Jude becomes acquainted with his eccentric and rather attractive cousin. The love affair that follows is as intense as it is scandalous in late 19th century England. And then about 85% into the novel, “the event” happens that nearly caused us to abandon the reading. Wow! Seriously, it almost made us sick. Even if we wanted to reveal the plot, it would be impossible to detail the single event that has drawn the full force of our ire.

Sadly, our entire opinion of Jude the Obscure is hinged on this single horrific event. It’s not as if similar events haven’t happened in other books, they have – plenty of times (okay maybe not plenty...), but we were completely unprepared and blindsided. The imagery seriously took our breath away and we had to reread the text multiple times just to make sure we didn’t misunderstand something. We then had to check the title on the front cover just to make sure that we hadn’t inadvertently picked up the wrong book... Okay, we realize that by dwelling on “the event”, the curiosity factor alone might cause our readers to undertake this novel – our only hope is that you will be more prepared.

For us, there’s little else to say about Jude the Obscure. Overall the novel was compelling and up until “the event”, engaging. We had a difficult time with some of the character’s decisions and philosophical arguments, but we at least understood their motivations. The novel is truly tragic, and as readers, we could feel the pain that Jude and Sue experienced. If nothing else Thomas Hardy succeeded in stirring our emotions – maybe a little too much.


  1. I agree. Honestly, when I picked it up I was completely unaware of the event. Yes, it was shocking and terrible. I still really enjoyed Jude the Obscure, purely for the writing. I remember being thoroughly infuriated with Jude and Sue many times throughout the novel. Maybe that's what I enjoyed most- the fact that Hardy could rouse such emotion.

  2. Ugh. Awful, awful book. I, for one, am thankful that Hardy stuck to poetry (and some drama) following this abysmal excuse for a story.