Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Kissin' Cousins

Finished Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy yesterday.

Sorry it's taken me a while to post, but...I really want to be eloquent and articulate when writing this blog, and this novel...well, I find it difficult to be eloquent and articulate about a novel that just left me cold.

Hardy is a novelist who specialized in running commentaries about the class system in England in the nineteenth century and how people in rural areas (what he called "Wessex") struggled within this class system.

I found the novel's concepts and characterizations completely out of date and therefore out of touch. Jude (to use colloquial language), to me, was a complete drip. I understood that he wanted to make something better of himself, and that he struggled to prove his intelligence to the university elite, but thought that he had no conviction or strength of character to follow through with his dreams - he could have gone anywhere, but was obsessed with one town, one university, one way of learning. He was never going to get very far with this obsession.

And as for his relationship with his cousin Sue...she was also a bit of a drip, but in a different way. She couldn't make her mind up about how to behave, either. Should she stay with her respectable yet dull husband? Should she follow Jude wherever he goes? Should she submit to her wifely duties, or assert her independence? The woman didn't have the conviction to follow her academic dreams either.

Both characters deserved each other in that they lacked courage and the wherewithal to deal with their unconventional beliefs and lifestyle. As I said before, what a pair of drips. Argh.

Up next: We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver. Fast forward to the 21st century.

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