November 12, 2006

Someplace: Far From The Madding Crowd

A few months ago, in another life, I read a book called 'Far From The Madding Crowd', by Thomas Hardy. I bought it second hand in Invercargill in March, when I found myself on the road for two weeks with nothing to read. I got about four pages into it during that time, having discovered other and better ways to pass the time.

It sat on a table, neglected for six months, until musings in another life on the title bid me take a second look. It was first published in 1874. On the back cover, it says:

"The mainspring of the book .. is Bathsheba Everdene and her three suitors. And, in portraying her caprice and wilfulness gradually crushed by bitter self-knowledge and rejection, Hardy makes his own point about sexual love. Romance, he says, should grow up 'in the interstices of a mass of hard prosaic reality'."

I don't like the sound of that. Can I not believe in the possibility of romance, please? The very idea of living away, far from the madding crowd, sounds impossibly romantic.

Bear with me as I record some passages that resonated.

"It was not exactly the fault of the hut," she observed in a tone which showed her to be that novelty among women - one who finished a thought before beginning the sentence which was to convey it.
Bathsheba, p70

It may have been observed that there is no regular path for getting out of love as there is for getting in.

A resolution to avoid an evil is seldom framed till the evil is so far advanced as to make avoidance impossible.

This was a practical application of the principle that a half-feigned and fictitious faith is better than no faith at all... The artifice showed that the woman, by some mysterious intuition, had grasped the paradoxical truth that blindness may operate more vigorously than prescience, and the short-sighted effect more than the far-seeing; that limitation, and not comprehensiveness, is needed for striking a blow.
Fanny Robin, p325

Although she scarcely knew the divinity's name, Diana was the goddess Bathsheba instinctively adored.

'Of course, you'll have another drop. A man's twice the man afterwards. You feel so warm and glorious, and you whop and slap at your work without any trouble, and everything goes on like sticks a-breaking. Too much liquor is bad, and leads us to that horned man in the smoky house; but after all many people haven't the gift of enjoying a wet, and since we be highly favoured with a power that way, we should make the most o't.'
Jan Coggan, p 344

'..It is difficult for a woman to define her feelings in language which is chiefly made by men to express theirs.'
Bathsheba to Farmer Boldwood, p412



Blogger Alan said...

You have to read Tess of the D'urbervilles. Depressing, but great... as is Jude the Obscure.

I went though a bit of a Hardy phase in the UK - most of his stuff was available for a quid, like most of the classics. Would that they were that cheap here!

8:47 AM  
Blogger Jessie said...

I got Far From The Madding Crowd for $4.50, seemed a bargain. Thanks for the recommendations!

10:32 AM  
Blogger Woman at the well said...

I remember the title ... it must have been a hit at the time.
Funny how people and impressions change. Inevitable, I know. I wonder what people will be writing like a hundred years from now, they┬┤ll be feeling so different!

4:58 AM  

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