HARDY, Thomas Jude the Obscure London: Osgood, McIlvaine & Co., 1896.
8vo. Original green cloth, stamped with gilt TH design to upper cover and title to spine; pp. viii, 516 [1, map]; some minor darkening to the spine and foxing to the endpapers, pictorial bookplate of Roch Ramanach to front paste down endpaper, a very good copy.
A late addition to Hardy's novel oeuvre, Jude the Obscure focuses on themes of marriage, sex and religion, charting the tragic path of a young, ambitious stonemason downwards into ruin and death. Considered a Victorian realist, Hardy's books (more so as he aged) questioned the inherent beliefs embedded in society which limited people and caused them to be unhappy. Jude the Obscure was particularly controversial, with booksellers selling it cloaked in an anonymous brown paper bag — convention also has it that the Bishop of Wakefield burned his copy. The book first appeared as a magazine serial in December 1894, and was published for the first time as No.8 in the Wessex Novels series.