Wednesday, October 31, 2007

New Reading Schedule

Good job everyone on completing the first segment of the reading schedule. This book club blog idea is working out great so far - I thought everyone's comments were insightful. And with the action just starting to heat up in this book, I can't wait to read what everyone thinks about this next segment.

We'll read chapters 9-20 next. Plan to have the reading completed by November 11th. The comment period will be Nov. 12-13.

Have fun!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Jude the Obscure: Chapters 1-8 Discussion

This picture is a view of Christminster (Oxford) as seen from Marygreen, as Jude Fawley would have seen it.

So hopefully you've all had a chance to finish the first eight chapters of the book. I've made a few notes during my reading so I'll get the ball rolling here. Remember, nobody is required to do a book report; we're just sharing thoughts, exploring ideas, and looking for some literary depth as we progress throughout the book. It's up to each of you to comment on my thoughts, each other's thoughts, and your own thoughts as we go throughout the process. Each discussion period will be open for two days (you can always return and add comments to older discussion threads) and then we'll move on to the next block of chapters.

The Setting

Everything seems more sophisticated if it happens in England. So much so, that for me the converse had actually become true in real life; in my travels in England I over-idealize and over-romanticize the scenery, people, and places because I'm superimposing the effects of the literature onto the landscape. In a way it's all silly, but I don't think I'd have it any other way. Whether it's true or not, my England is Thomas Hardy's England, Jude Fawley's England.

Old Miss Fawley

Jude's great aunt factors as a background character so far, but I'm struck by the meaning of her role in Jude's life. He's obviously a burden to her; he's obviously got no better options, so they're stuck together for the time being. I feel like that fact is a symbolic statement about the circumstances we're all stuck with in life. She represents the inheritance of circumstance that applies to all of us, and in truth, ends up defining most of us. Jude is an immediately compelling character because he seems determined to push himself to become more than the strictures of his class and circumstance would seem to allow.


Kacey commented a week or so ago that the development of the Jude/Arabella romance happened pretty fast in comparison to other books of this period. Jude's world with Arabella in it is about to be turned upside down in the coming chapters. For now, it's interesting to think about why Jude so quickly abandoned his long-term plans to pursue Arabella. She wasn't particularly comely or educated. She didn't come from money. She was clever, but what else? I can't think it is all simply Jude's desire to get with a woman. Do we blame Arabella for her wiles or Jude for his shortsightedness? As noble as his pursuits were before he met Arabella, he now seems like mere simpleton and he's setting himself up to live the life of a simpleton, at best.


It is the city on the hill. It symbolizes everything there is to hope for. It cannot possibly live up to the expectations that Jude has created in his mind. Or can it? It will be interesting to watch the evolution of Christminster from mysterious place of wonder, to far-off place of dreams, to literal streets, structures, and people who may or may not deliver the impact that Jude awaits. So far, I like the way Hardy creates this city; not mythical but with a drawing power that appeals to the goodness within Jude. I think we must all have our own Christminster, too.

Your thoughts?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Jude the Obscure - Chapters 1-8

You still have about 5 days to complete reading chapters 1-8. I wanted to start this first section off with plenty of time alotted so everybody had a chance to get caught up.

Going forward, I'll post the reading schedule for each section and then we'll have 2 days for discussion before moving on. If you think the time alotted for each reading section is too long or too short, let me know. It will be a learning process to figure our what works best to keep us progressing without making it seem like a chore.

I hope the discussion threads will focus on the subtleties and the literary devices of the book, such as the meaning within the plot development, the expansion of the characters, the symbolism of the people, places, and events, and the general human themes. And whatever else comes to mind - I hope each of you will take time to share what you think and what you feel the book is teaching.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

First Book - Reading Schedule

Welcome to Captian Emus' Book Club. You've made a good decision - now spread the word.

Our first book is Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy. You can find it at your local library; believe me, it won't be checked out.

Here's the first part of the reading schedule:

Chapters 1-8 (approximately 60 pages)

- complete this section by October 28

We're dividing the book up into small manageable sections, which will allow everyone to post comments intra-read. I want to encourage you to share your thoughts and comments as they occur. They'll be more poignant that way, and more meaningful to the rest of us who read them.

Ready, go.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Intro

This is a new blog, created for the purpose of chasing good thoughts, new ideas, and better literature. We'll expand our literary horizons by challenging each other to read, think, and write.

Since it's my blog, I'll choose the books. I'll create the reading schedule. And I'll moderate the discussion.

But for each of you who choose to participate, you'll have the biggest responsibility: driving the discussion and stimulating the group thinking.

We'll read a good mix of classic literature, 20th century American literature, historical non-fiction, and modern social non-fiction. And we might even mix in an Oprah Book Club pick if I feel enough pressure from the female members of the club.

So come on! Don't be afraid to commit. It's going to be fun.

Welcome to Captain' Emus Book Club Blog.