– e-book (Project Gutenberg)
Read from January 4th to 19th 2016
I still remember the Romanian edition of Far from the Madding Crowd in my mother’s library I was sometimes looking at in my teenage years only to put it away again, even after I read and enjoyed other Thomas Hardy’s writings (I had been pretty impressed with Tess d’Urberville if I recall correctly). Why I have avoided this classic despite its beautiful title at a time when I was reading almost whatever came to hand, I don’t know. Even now, had I not accidentally seen the end of the movie version (the Julie Christie one, who makes a very credible Bathsheba), I would have continued to ignore it, and what a pity it would have been.
A pity because this Hardy’s fourth novel is quite charming, with its Victorian themes and motives, like marriage, education, the role of the woman and the moral constraints in the middle-class society, reinterpreted in a new way, not only by emphasizing the role of the chance in the destiny of the individual, but also by studying how the same destiny changes whenever the equilibrium between reason and emotion is broken. From this point of view, the novel reminded me the four kinds of love identified by Stendhal in his essay On Love (which I don’t think the writer was familiar with, at least not at the moment of the book’s creation): passionate, mannered, physical and vanity-love.