Classics Club: Far from the Madding Crowd

Novel, 1874.  Thomas Hardy.

What I liked

1.  It is incredibly funny in places–truly laugh out loud funny.  I like any novel that can do that for me.

2.  The descriptions are stunning in places–the stars, the thunderstorms, the views from hilltops.  Not to be missed.

3.  The pace is fairly lively in most places.  Each chapter is quick with the exception of two or three places.

4.  What strikes me about Bathsheba Everdene is that she feels like a forerunner of Scarlett O’Hara.  Bathsheba has dark hair and fair skin, is young, strong willed, tempermental, and self-reliant, but at no point does Hardy (unlike Mitchell) ever let her fall into any truly desparate situation.  Do we know if she has learned much from her foolish and terrible choices?  Other than her appearance as being labled more serious and sedate or a mention of crying, no.  The novel wraps up with the quiet wedding of Bathsheba and Gabriel Oak and that is that.

Things that irritate me

1.  Characters randomly appearing/disappearing.  I know there is a whole slew of farm workers that appear and disappear randomly.  It feels like certain ones show up just for gossip or comic relief, but have no true purpose in the novel.

2.  Bathsheba’s aunt.  We see her at the beginning, but why does she not go to chaperone Bathsheba as she takes over her uncle’s farm?  After all, Bathsheba is young and unmarried.  Also, there is no mention of her until after Troy’s assumed death when she goes for a month to visit.

3.  Bathsheba’s marriage to Troy.  Where were their families?  His is never mentioned beyond his dead father’s watch.  It seems unconventional for this time period to just get married on the spot without witnesses or family–particularly in an unfamilliar town.

4.  The terrible stupidity of decision making in regards to romance.  The inconstancy of Troy (and his gambling addiction).  The possessive nature of Boldwood.  The terrible choices of Bathsheba.  The too hushed nature of Oak.  The foolishness of Fanny Robin.

  • Was it worth it to read?  Yes.
  • Would I read this again?  Maybe.
  • Rating:  3.5/5 stars

6 thoughts on “Classics Club: Far from the Madding Crowd

  1. wobsy

    Interesting. I think many of your “dislikes” are actually with Hardy’s weltanschauung. He had a belief that the whole world was organised to make folk unhappy. Many of the mechanisms in his books are there to demonstrate this.
    Have you read much else by Hardy? He doesn’t do happy endings usually!

  2. Pingback: Weekly Round-up for August 6, 2012. « The Classics Club

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