Pilgrimpace's Blog

lost roots

“Jude the Obscure speaks sense about the painful difficulties of life for the poor and intellectually aspiring who have lost their roots in any place and their faith in any god … The book also offers an interesting corrective to any idea that the countryside is inherently cheering or consoling, by giving an unrelieved view of the dark side of rural life.  There are no lush meadows and rivers, no great medieval barns as in Far From the Madding Crowd.  Jude  is first seen in a bleak and dreary upland Berkshire village in which many of the cottages have been pulled down; even the ancient parish church has been replaced by an ugly modern one. In the process, the graves of the village forebears have also been destroyed, leaving the villagers without any record of the past.  As a small boy Jude works for a farmer scaring birds in a vast upland field.  ‘How ugly it is here!’ he thinks; and he is sorry for the birds, and troubled by the law of nature that makes cruelty to one creature kindness to another.  There are no Wordsworthian lessons or inspirations here.  His dream of becoming a student at Oxford is unattainable.  He is trapped into marriage, too young and without love, and the marriage fails … He becomes an itinerant stonemason, walking or taking trains from place to place, carrying a few possessions, never able to settle or make a secure life for himself, never finding true friends, turning to drink to forget his misery.  In many ways his experience forecasts the brutality of life a century later, when economic migrants wander the earth, having lost their natural support systems of family and home, and encountering incomprehension, hardship, hostility and often early death.”

– Claire Tomalin Thomas Hardy, The Time-Torn Man


3 Comments so far
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Ok…I’m depressed. Esp. reading this sitting in the Pacific NW, on a very rainy gray morning!! 🙂

Comment by Karin

Thanks Karin – I’ll do a post about why it is important for me to post things like this in the next day or two.


Comment by pilgrimpace

Karin, you’ve inspired me to a poem as the best way to express this. It’s about half way there, so I’ll post when I get it finished

Comment by pilgrimpace

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