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Love and Marriage: A Book Club Special Edition

July 7, 2011

Dear Maladjusted Readers,

I am at it again. Apologizing.

If you, in your extreme kindness, are actually reading the latest Maladjusted Book Club pick, you may be muttering to yourself, “What the hell was she thinking?”

And now I must confess to you, I wasn’t, fully.

I picked it in a moment of irrationality, of atypical enthusiasm for a man who looks as severe as this:

Like that mustache?

My penchant for Thomas Hardy rests in the fact that he’s such a sensitive soul who still managed to piss people off. (I can relate.)

I am halfway through Jude the Obscure, and I am actually enjoying it, though that Sue Bridehead is a big pain in my rear-end. Yet I recognize that it is summer, the time of reading the latest and greatest page-turners, and so many of you are probably seeing your inboxes full of beautiful covers the likes of which you’d rather be reading. Books about kidnappings and murders, filled with steamy sex and hedonism. And I’ve given you two people who are so uptight, they can barely manage to kiss. Even worse, there are no vampires.

The least I could have done was pick Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, a true work of genius. (I love it when that Jane Austen turns in her grave.)

Forgive me for my rashness.

But, what if we were to adjust our attitudes a tiny bit? What if, instead of deeming me “crazy,” or a bore, we called me…

Radical.

Yeah.

Just think of the pleasure you’ll feel when you cross yet another classic (i.e. novel by dead white guy) off of your list and discuss it on August 1st.

And if you need something to think about while you read, I give you these questions:

The biggest underlying theme of this book seems to be the convention of marriage. For the two main characters, it is a stifling institution, rarely filled with any kind of romance or passionate love.

How different are our concepts about marriage today?

Is it wiser to avoid marriage altogether if you want to keep the love alive with your partner?

In contemporary society, are we still held hostage by such outdated traditions?  

Happy reading.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Cathy July 7, 2011 at 11:03 am

Oh thank you for the extension. I am enjoying it but it seems to be painfully slow going.

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Denise Nielsen July 7, 2011 at 12:22 pm

I finished this last night – unhappily late which did not make sleep come easy – and have a bunch of dog-eared pages because, yes, I am that kind of a reader (and this is one of the reasons real books win over ebooks for me in general). Three broad themes seemed larger than life: marriage and it’s societal implications as you mention, Jana; but also the recurring patterns of life and whether or not we can change them; and the somewhat intertwined themes of class distinction and the value of aspiration (was it worth Jude aspiring towards a liberal education or would he have been best served by “remaining in your own sphere” as a college master suggests).

Anyway today’s book will be decidedly lighter in tone to make up for poor Jude.

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Stacia July 7, 2011 at 4:13 pm

I’ve tried Tess of the D’Urbervilles about seven times and have never made it through. For you, though, I’ll give Jude a read and see what I think. Maybe Hardy’s better on the Kindle. =>

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Vanessa July 7, 2011 at 10:20 pm

Like you Jana, I am enjoying Jude but am annoyed by Sue. Make up your mind woman, you give us all a bad name. Anyway…I look forward to the discussion and appreciate the encouragement to read a classic. Thank you.

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