Friday, 30 May 2014

Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy

Date of Reading: 30/06/2008
Author: Thomas Hardy
Publisher: Macmillan
Place: London
Year: 1963

         I have been waiting to get hold on this one book which made Hardy to abandon his writing career. Curiously I can't still figure out what was all this commotion about; there is his usual pessimism stuff with fate (sometimes taking the embodiment of humans) thwarting expectations, critical remarks on religion (which eventually became too critical for his career as a novelist), and the portrayal of inner dilemmas. But if we take the lives of Henchard and Tess for comparison, Jude seems to occupy the better slot. Well, each of us have our own individual crosses enough to drag us down from the smooth climb.

          Other day I was waiting in que in front of the xerox shop for some printouts; its the day of 12th standard results and not surprisingly there is one small crowd waiting for the verdict. Thanks to the new examination pattern, there are no disappointments or heartbreaks and I can see the family residing in the nearby chawl starting the cries of jubilation; their girl has secured a first class. The new system is open to Judes (at least partially) who are ready to rise from their working class background to the magnificent halls of Oxford. In other words, the illusion of the American dream still permeates hope, even though the odds are stacked against us each.
         Little Jude lives with his aunt Drussille Fawley. He cherishes a dream to have his higher studies at Christminster (symbolises Oxford) and has begun to learn Latin and Greek by himself. As a stonemason he sets out towards his goal but eventually gets trapped into a marriage with Arabella Down who feigns pregnancy to have him take the vows. Soon the infatuation gives way to mutual contempt and Jude proceeds to Christminster when the couple decides to separate. 
        But Christminster is reluctant to accept a common figure from the working class background. Devastated, Jude finds his consolation in his cousin Sue Bridehead with whom he falls in love. Jude's former marriage stops her in taking the decisive step and she accepts the proposal of Mr. Phillotson, Jude's old school master, resulting in an unhappy marriage. She flees back to Jude and after a divorce from their respective spouses, they start life anew. Arabella meanwhile had undergone her second marriage in Australia.

        As Sue felt that the marriage has a destructive effect on love, they choose not to take the vows legally. Seen as social outcasts, they lead a miserable life with two children and Father Time, Jude's son in Arabella. Disaster stuck when Sue is expecting her third baby and Father Time grieved in hearing the news kills the other two and himself "because we are too manny". The shock Sue undergoes results in the premature death of the third child.
          Terrified, Sue marries Phillotson again thinking that before heaven they are still man and wife. Arabella, now a widow, persuades Jude to another marriage with her but things were too much for his weak health. He dies at the Remembrance Day, alone at his room.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

A Little Thank You Note

         The bright day (a little too bright for my taste) has closed its shutters making way for the whispering, irritable night with the howling of stray dogs. Not an auspicious moment in the traditional sense but . . . its time for my 100th post; to remember those who have given me courage, the boost to collect some words which on a linear arrangement makes some funny little sense.
        All good things start from home, so first its your turn Papa (we should appease the economic side first); thank you for standing by me (as always) and taking a home network connection with unlimited usage which helped me to take the initial steps in 2012.
         Ooh!! I can sense a little resentment in the atmosphere. Patience! Bro, I haven't forgotten you (not yet). These words won't suffice to describe my joy in having you as the best buddy and brother who asked me to start this blog citing the instances of others from newspaper clips you have stored. Thanks a lot!!! And to you too Lulu, for your valuable suggestion to personalize my blog. 
         I do remember Nithya, my predecessor in blogging, who introduced me to Indiblogger which eventually led to many more; Roshni, who put the very first comment (came it rather as a surprise) giving the necessary boost to this pessimistic self.
        Can't end without a word on my friends in IndiBlogger, whose feedback I cherish always and thanks to BlogaddaBook Blogs and Goodreads for providing a platform for free books.
           Time to wind up the speech, so to all mentioned above and to some others which I haven't mentioned by name . . .

Monday, 5 May 2014

At First Sight - Mihir Kamat

Date of Reading: 14/04/2014
Author: Mihir Kamat
Publisher: Mihir Kamat
Year: 2014
From: Goodreads Firstreads Giveaway
Rating: 3.5/5

         As me and fortune never sees eye to eye, winning a giveaway in goodreads can be termed as a miracle. A small book of 72 pages with twelve short stories celebrating love; a simple but smart cover page featuring a pair of eyes (a tiny glitch I can see is that the eyes speak of an untold woe not of love) and there is the matter of font -- all the stories are given in italics which by the way looks beautiful, but makes the reading miserable in the long run.
          First few stories are the usual cliched ones with unsurprising endings; I can find few novelties in narrative style but things get better when stories get out of man-woman relationships; there are some I felt quite rewarding like 'In a Manner of Thinking', 'Everything' (grandfather-granddaughter relationship), and 'The final dance' (really interesting as the story leaves many loose ends).

          Thank you Mihir for sending me a copy through goodreads. A signed copy from the author is something I will cherish always.
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