Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Back to Jude

When I retreat, I delve into the only worlds I have ever found myself to be truly comfortable, existing in my favorite books. Right now they are piled on top of each other and hidden in storage, but I've made a decision that they need to be extolled for the beacons of light they are to me when life takes a turn for the bleak.

In the bedroom or the living room, the Billy Bookcase at Ikea offers limitless possibility - you'll find the perfect one for you right here. I really love the Billy Corner Combination and for under $300 all my treasured books can finally be visible. Today I am re-reading one of my favorites because I think it's one of the most profound books I ever read - a special thank you to Columbia University's Professor Stade - for Jude, for Wolfe, for Yeats, for Marlow's yarn - you continue to inspire a life (and now a home!) a decade later.

Thomas Hardy's Jude reflects, "As you got older, and felt yourself to be at the center of your time and not at a point in its circumference, as you had felt when you were little, you were seized with a sort of shuddering, he perceived. All around you there seemed to be something glaring, garish, rattling, and the noises and glares hit upon the little cell called your life, and shook it and warped it." Jude is indeed obscure - more often than not he is on the brink of a brilliant epiphany, or realizing a long overdue dream, but it is never quite fulfilled. On the few occasions he gets there, and can articulate what it is, exactly, that is wrong with this world, the clarity stuns. You are left breathless. And uncomfortable, because the truths burn. (And so did the book in 1895 - by a Bishop, no less!) I want the title of my next book to be On The Brink, and am more than a little irritated with Mr. Paulson today. And for always calling when we wanted to play Nintendo with Pop.

Jude The Obscure is also one of the most beautiful English roses - it smells of lychee and almost looks fake because it is so incredibly perfect. How wonderful to fill a home with books and flowers.

I liked the movie, but the book is so magnificent that I think it would be almost impossible to capture its essence. Like Catcher in the Rye, some stories can only be told through words.

I do love the song, though - it's my favorite song by The Beatles besides Eleanor Rigby:

An old friend of mine from college read this post and asked me if I knew who the song was written for - I did not know, and I was rather moved by the story.

Originally titled “Hey Jules”, Paul McCartney wrote “Hey Jude” in an attempt to comfort Julian Lennon, John and Cynthia’s son, during their divorce. In 1968, John and Cynthia Lennon separated due to his affair with Yoko Ono. Sometime after this, McCartney drove out to visit Julian and Cynthia. Later, Cynthia recalled, “I was truly surprised when, one afternoon, Paul arrived on his own. I was touched by his obvious concern for our welfare…. On the journey down he composed ‘Hey Jude’ in the car. I will never forget Paul’s gesture of care and concern in coming to see us. About the original title of the song, Paul McCartney said, “I started with the idea ‘Hey Jules’, which was Julian, don’t make it bad, take a sad song and make it better. Hey, try and deal with this terrible thing. I knew it was not going to be easy for him. I always feel sorry for kids in divorces … I had the idea [for the song] by the time I got there. I changed it to ‘Jude’ because I thought that sounded a bit better.” It would be almost twenty years after McCartney wrote the song that Julian would discover that it had been written for him. He remembered being closer to McCartney than to his own father: “Paul and I used to hang about quite a bit—more than Dad and I did. We had a great friendship going and there seems to be far more pictures of me and Paul playing together at that age than there are pictures of me and my dad.” -From Beatles Trivia

That's the secret, isn't it? Take a sad song and make it better?


Steven L. Denlinger said...

I LOVE your blog, Anisha! It's good to see someone blogging about literature, and doing it in such a contemporary way. I too love Thomas Hardy -- 'Tess' is one of my favorite books. I'll have to pick up 'Jude' again to find what I've missed.

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