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A daily record of what I'm thinking about what I'm reading

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Sunday, January 10, 2016

Hey, Jude - a liteary character who cannot catch a break

In one of those coincidence that 19th-century writers got away with but that would not fly today, Jude just happens to stop into a pub for a drink and who should be serving at the bar but his estranged wife, returned unexpectedly from Australia. Jude, town as always between the corporal and the spiritual, goes off with estranged wife Arabella (he calls her at one point Abby) and they spend the night together in a cheap hotel (Hardy is very discrete about this, but, hey, they're actually married so what's the problem?, and then Jude learns that she has "remarried" (and abandoned) a guy in Australia - she's very blase about that and says in happens all the time down there, probably true - and he has followed her back to England and bought a pub in London and wants her to work w/ him there to build the business. Well, here's an opportunity for Judge - perhaps he can get his marriage annulled? - but unfortunately for the poor guy the true love of his life has gone ahead w/ her marriage to the crotchety schoolmaster, Phillotson - in fact, she has asked Jude to "give her away" (she sharply notes the hypocrisy that men can choose their wives but the wife must be "given away" by a father or father figure). Jude just cannot catch a break, cannot find happiness, either in love or in his chosen career. He still yearns to study Greek and Latin but seems to be stuck forever in his stone-mason trade. Oddly, the novel is quite peripatetic, each section centered on a different location as Jude uproots himself - first to Christminster, then the Melchester (seems to be Winchester), then to another small city - seeking some kind of happiness, always in pursuit of the elusive.

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