I read a lot of Thomas Hardy’s novel when I was a teenager and while I did take them seriously, I also enjoyed playing Guess The Death. You’ll pick it up pretty quickly if you ever read any Hardy – a main character nearly always dies towards the end of a novel and you can usually work out pretty early on who it’s going to be. No spoilers but it’s pretty easy once it’s been pointed out to you.
And fun, I’d say, but maybe that’s just me.
You can usually tell when it’s going to happen too as there’s often some usual weather preceding the death, a particularly wet summer for example, or a very harsh winter.
But Hardy writes good books anyway and playing Guess The Death shouldn’t distract you from that. I reread Jude the Obscure recently and, while it’s not a very happy book, it is definitely worth your time and I think you pick up on a lot more reading it as an adult. It was Hardy’s last novel and received a lot of criticism when it was published – even by his wife, Emma Hardy – because of its attitude to religion and to marriage.
For example, when one character admits to Jude that her marriage was a mistake:
“I have only been married a month or two! […] And it is said that what a woman shrinks from—in the early days of her marriage—she shakes down to with comfortable indifference in half a dozen years. But that is much like saying that the amputation of a limb is no affliction, since a person gets comfortably accustomed to the use of a wooden leg or arm in the course of time!”
Bear in mind that this was published in the late nineteenth century so you can see why the English public got upset by the attitudes being expressed, which were seen as flippant and immoral.
Incidentally, while I suspect it probably wasn’t an inspiration for Harry Potter, we do meet Jude when he’s an eleven year old orphan being raised by his aunt. No magic ensues though so it’s probably just a coincidence.
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