Jude the Obscure

A novel by Thomas Hardy (1840-1928) originally printed in abridged and bowdlerized form in Harper's New Monthly Magazine. When the novel was published in an unexpurgated version in 1895, it was attacked as grossly indecent and overly pessimistic. The Pall Mall Gazette labelled it Jude the Obscene, and the Bishop of Wakefield was so disgusted that he burned a copy. Although Hardy lived for another 33 years, he did not write any more novels. Jude Fawley dreams of studying at university, but this aspiration proves unattainable. Both he and his cousin, Sue Bridehead, become trapped in unhappy marriages. Their decision to flout convention and live together leads to social ostracism and a tragic dénouement.

Creator:
Thomas Hardy
Published:
1895
Full title:
The Simpletons; Hearts Insurgent
Forms:
Prose
Genre:
Victorian literature
Literary period:
Victorian

Related articles

An introduction to Jude the Obscure

Article by:
Greg Buzwell
Theme:
Fin de siècle

Greg Buzwell considers how Hardy's last novel exposes the hypocrisy of conventional late-Victorian society, taking on topics such as education and class, marriage and the New Woman.

Daughters of decadence: the New Woman in the Victorian fin de siècle

Article by:
Greg Buzwell
Themes:
Fin de siècle, Gender and sexuality

Free-spirited and independent, educated and uninterested in marriage and children, the figure of the New Woman threatened conventional ideas about ideal Victorian womanhood. Greg Buzwell explores the place of the New Woman – by turns comical, dangerous and inspirational – in journalism and in fiction by writers such as Thomas Hardy, George Gissing and Sarah Grand.

Deathbed scenes in fiction

Article by:
John Mullan
Theme:
The novel 1832–1880

The deathbed is an iconic scene in Victorian fiction. Professor John Mullan considers its potential for sentimentality and satire.

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