“Far from the madding crowd’s ignoble strife
Their sober wishes never learn’d to stray;
Along the cool sequester’d vale of life
They kept the noiseless tenor of their way.”
Grandpa Felicius: A little Thomas Gray there, “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard”. The line must have inspired another Thomas (Thomas Hardy), who found success in 1874 with “Far from the Madding Crowd,” a romance set in an imaginary Wessex. Like William Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha County, the landscape described by Hardy is a “merely realistic dream country.” Bathsheba Everdene is the young woman who grows wise as she learns valuable lessons of the heart from Gabriel Oak, the constant, rustic shepherd; from William Boldwood, the wiser, older neighbor; and from Francis Troy, the strutting sergeant whose flashy swordsmanship leads to one of the most erotically charged fencing demonstrations in the history of literature.
Trent: Katniss Everdeen is given a mission: to stay far from the madding crowd of zombies. It’s a deadly, hungry game of cat(niss) and mouse, and I totally read it, Grandpa. However, I just can’t give it a cherry in good conscientiousness cuz I’m waiting ‘til you make us watch the movie version to fully expand my appreciation and understanding of it all.
Hank: Yeah, I totally read it too. Bronson, Bane, Mad Max- and now he’s a novelist! Is there ANYTHING Tom Hardy can’t do? What a page-turner. But yeah, I’m also going to withhold verdict until we watch the movie.
Cousin Franz: Bathsheba Everdene is, simply put, one of the most realistic psychological portraits of a lady that we have. She’s independent but never irredeemably self-absorbed; flirtatious without ever being licentious; stubborn without ever falling into irrationality. We never get mad at the things she does- even at her obvious missteps- because Hardy makes us understand her and love her. I was as unconditionally infatuated with her as Boldwood or Gabriel were. Hardy’s pastoral poetry made me feel like I spent some time in the Wessex Country of his imagination.
Tracey: I’m not sure why every Victorian book has to have the same plot: “young woman must pick a suitor from a crowd that contains at least one questionable snake.” Bathsheba is a self-reliant bossgirl though, and the way she runs her farm while having the respect of the local yokels is awesome, so I did like this. My only little qualm is that she falls for Sergeant Troy, who’s a textbook f***kboy! I mean, she had Farmer Oak and Farmer Boldwood right there and she goes for some idiot who’s whipping his big phallic symbol around.
Trent: What’s that? Phallic symbols? Hardy? Oak? Boldwood? Hahahah! Is this one of them undercover sexy books? I mean, if it is, I know it is, because I totally read it.
Beatricia: Farmer Oak can shear the wool right off my sheep anytime he wants! Actually, the best part of this novel is all the practical advice it offers about life on farm country. Whether it’s sheep-herding tips (never let an incompetent dog push your flock off a cliff!), or how to stab into bloated abscesses, or the importance of keeping the hay dry during a storm, “Far from the Madding Crowd” is full of useful information.
Blurbarella: “Thomas Hardy– Dream Country–Erotically charged– Bloated.”
4 out of 6 Cherries