Upon its first appearance in 1895, Thomas Hardy';s Jude the Obscure shocked Victorian critics and readers with a frank depiction of sexuality and an unbridled indictment of the institutions of marriage, education, and religion, reportedly causing one Angli-can bishop to order the book publicly burned. The experience so exhausted Hardy that he never wrote a work of fiction again.
Rich in symbolism, Jude the Obscure is the story of Jude Fawley and his struggle to rise from his station as a poor Wessex stonemason to that of a scholar at Christminster. It is also the story of Jude';s ill-fated relationship with his cousin Sue Bridehead, and the ultimate tragedy that causes Jude';s undoing and Sue';s transformation. Jude the Obscure explores man';s essential loneliness and remains one of Hardy';s most widely read novels.