Jude the Obscure Author:Thomas Hardy In Hardy's own words, this is 'a novel addressed by a man to men and women of full age, which attempts to deal unaffectedly with the fret and fever, derision and disaster, that may press in the wake of the strongest passion known to humanity; to tell, without mincing of words, of a deadly war waged between flesh and spirit and to point the trage... more »dy of unfulfilled aims'. It has special importance in Hardy's work, for its reception, as he said later, completely cured him of further interest in novel writing.
Jude Fawley, a villager with high intellectual gifts and aspirations, is trapped early in life into a disastrous marriage with 'mere female animal'. She soon desserts him, and he studies for the priesthood, but this ambition is thwarted by his passion for his married cousin, Sue Bridehead. Step by step, circumstances conspire, sometimes with a ruthlessness that is almost incredible, to defeat all their hopes and plans and bring them to disaster. The marriage laws of the time, and the difficulties that in those days confronted anyone without means in search of a higher education and a fitting career, are used in great part as the tragic machinery of the story.« less