Thursday, 22 August 2013

Far From the Madding Crowd

   This book has been my solace this summer.  I was hoping to read many Thomas Hardy books, but when I got to "Far From the Madding Crowd", I clung to it and didn't want to finish it.  I read aloud, repeating significant portions.
   Penguin English Library has published a new version of the classics and I am enjoying this cover.  The pattern is bees, but it really isn't a 'busy book'.  It is about nature and the cover appeals to me.
   Thomas Hardy had grown up in the country and really disliked the growth in the cities due to industrialization.  His career in architecture made it necessary to live there.  But he longed for the idyllic world of the countryside.  This is my primary connection to the novel.  The pastoral descriptions soothe my soul and the characters add snippets of entertainment along the way.

 Bathsheba - proud, impetuous, independant, and outstandingly beautiful.
Bathsheba has three suitors:
1.) Gabriel Oak- "a young man of sound judgment, easy motions, proper dress and general good character".  He is a good-humoured, hard-working countryman, expert in most aspects of farming, and especially sheep.  He is a man of deep feeling and imagination.
2.) Farmer Boldwood- a rich, handsome, middle-aged farmer, and a very eligible bachelor."He was erect in attitude, and quiet in demeanour.  One characteristic pre-eminently marked him- dignity."
3.) Sergeant Troy- "Idiosyncrasy and vicissitude had combined to stamp Sergeant Troy as an exceptional being" - a handsome young soldier, educated, charming, and self-confident, bristles with masculine energy and steals hearts with eloquent and shameless flattery.

Bathsheba is distressed about her choices:
"Loving is misery for women always.  I shall never forgive my Maker for making me a woman, and dearly am I beginning to pay for the honour of owning a pretty face".

Who does she choose?????

  This is one of the earlier covers and, although it does represent the pastoral scene that I love, it really doesn't speak to me.
   This is Hardy's fourth novel and the one that enabled him, at age 34, to become a full-time writer.
   This story was first published in "The Cornhill" magazine in serial form.
   The language is spectacular!  The fact that some sentences completely bamboozle me does not distract from my love of the words.
   Thank you, Thomas Hardy, for touching my spirit and soothing my soul!

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