Jude the Obscure: Pessimism and Fictional Form

  • David Lodge


We can all agree, perhaps, that Jude the Obscure is about frustration and failure in two areas of life — sex and education. It is about Jude Fawley’s failure to get to the University, and about his disastrous relationships with women. But as soon as we ask what is the meaning of these themes as presented in the narrative, doubt and disagreement commence.


Direct Encounter Irregular Union Academic Ambition Close Quarter Magic Lantern 
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  1. 1.
    Michael Millgate, Thomas Hardy: His Career as a Novelist (London: The Bodley Head; New York: Random House, 1971) p. 324.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Quoted by J. Hillis Miller in Thomas Hardy: Distance and Desire (London: Oxford University Press; Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1970) p. 206.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    As the scene continues, there are several explicit references to this object in the text of the first edition (189$) which Hardy removed in revising the novel for the edition of 1903, and did not restore subsequently. This belated bowdlerisation of a scene which had caused great offence on the novel’s first publication (one reviewer described it as ‘more brutal in depravity than anything which the darkest slums could bring forth’) is rather to be regretted. See ‘Note on the Text’ in the New Wessex Edition of Jude the Obscure, ed. Terry Eagleton (London: Macmillan, 1975) P. 424 (p. 439 in paperback edition).Google Scholar

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© David Lodge 1979

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  • David Lodge

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