17 Apr

I have an obsession.  It is recent.  Old books.  By this, I do not mean books that were written long ago… though I am quite fond of those as well.  No, I mean the “go into Half Price Books and find a 1917 copy of Thomas Hardy’s Return of the Native” old books.  I know that 1917 is not that long ago, but it was still very cool.  No cover art, just a navy blue hardcover with Return of the Native written in faded gold lettering.  It’s brilliant.  The best part is that it used to belong to a school district in Amherst Massachusetts and that despite the stamp on the inside forbidding students to mark upon the book with ink or pencil, miss Marion Brett (name written on the inside under “Pupil’s Name”) decided not to obey.  Her notations can be found throughout, one chapter heading notes that it must be studied for Wednesday.  It is marvelous.  I cannot wait to read it.

Thomas Hardy is also a recent obsession of mine.  One to rival my infatuation with Jane Austen.  It all started with Jude the Obscure, which is obscenely sad and extremely well written.  Required reading for a literature class, I was not looking forward to it.  But much like my experience reading Wuthering Heights, once I started it, I could not put it down.  Hardy’s prose are so magnificent that I was required to go back and read portions of the text just to absorb their beauty a second time.  I even read them aloud to Connor at times when I could not bear to be the only one marveling at their beauty.  Months later I read Tess of the d’Urbervilles and the obsession became a force within me.  It was brilliant.  After that, my love for Hardy could not be sated.  I had to have more.  I began The Mayor of Casterbridge.  I have not finished it, but so far it lives up to all of my high expectations.

I highly recommend Thomas Hardy’s novels to anyone, especially if you’re a huge lit nerd like me and can’t get enough 19th Century British Literature.  And if you are lucky enough to find old copies with Marion Brett’s lovely cursive scattered throughout, so much the better.

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