Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage . . . They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion.
~Psalm 84:5

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Literary Update

I finally finished reading Jude the Obscure. Actually, I finished reading it about three weeks ago, but I've just been too lazy to bump it off my list. Pathetic, I know.

Despite his pessimism, I rather enjoy reading Thomas Hardy. I was first exposed to his work in high school, where we read bits of Far From the Maddening Crowd. I liked it so much I went out and bought it. However, I found it too difficult to read and gave up. That was years before I decided to become an English major in college. Now I'm addicted to British novels. Up until seven months ago I practically lived in the late 19th century for two years.

Anywho, I read Tess of the d'Urbervilles last spring and wrote a term paper about Tess and Hardy's description of her as a "pure woman." I received an A for it from a very difficult Baylor professor, thank you very much! This professor mentioned how Jude the Obscure caused such an outrage it was the last novel he ever wrote; after that he wrote poetry. Most in the class hadn't read the book (sadly, most of us were graduating seniors), so he wouldn't tell us what exactly happened to cause such a negative reaction from Hardy's contemporaries. So I picked the book up at Barnes and Noble and decided to find out for myself. It took nearly three months, but I got through it, and I really enjoyed it!

There were some rather depressing parts, and it alarms me that my friend Brandon says it's practically his autobiography. But I have grown to love Hardy's writing style. He's novels are oozing with symbolism and drenched in irony. I love that! Although at times it does feel a little overdone; but what do I know? - I can barely write a poem!

Eventually I shall like to write an essay over JtO. Hardy has some excellent themes in that novel, including pagan vs. sacred, love vs. lust/passion, city-life vs. rural/country-life and society vs. the individual. It seems those themes appear in many of Hardy's novels. I actually miss discussing topics like these in a classroom setting! I also miss having to read more than one book. Granted, a novel a week was a bit much; but I was stilled exposed to far more than I am now!

Maybe one of these days I'll post something more specific about Jude. But don't hold your breath.

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