Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Monday, March 23, 2015

Taking a Hardy turn into spring on The Road of Rereading

With spring being officially here(despite the snow storm that arrived in my neck of the woods on that day). it's time for me to walk a bit further down The Road of Rereading. For this season, I chose Thomas Hardy's Far From The Madding Crowd, a book that was assigned to me in high school and yet I have very little memory of the actual text.

I do remember getting the book from the teacher and even watching a few scenes from the 1967 film version of FFTMC in class(that was a popular part of that English course. We also saw the entire film adaptation of The Good Earth as well). Beyond that, I don't think that I got too far with the actual book, a rarity for me back then.

 I was one of those kids who liked reading assignments and frequented the school library quite a bit. However when it came to this book and Lord Jim(assigned by a different teacher), I just couldn't get into them at all.

Perhaps Thomas Hardy and Joesph Conrad are not easy for any high school student to get into,which doesn't mean you shouldn't try, of course.However, due to my interest in English literature, I've never given up on tackling Hardy.

He's a rather moody fellow and his most famous works reflect that in abundance. Far From The Madding Crowd was his fourth novel and his first success with critics and readers alike. This book then lead to ten more, including such classics as The Mayor of Casterbridge, Tess of the D'ubervilles and Jude the Obscure.

In looking back on FFTMC now, this was a pretty controversial choice for my English class as it's themes of female empowerment and sharp sexual overtones make it juicy.  Guess it wasn't presented to us that way, which is too bad since we would've paid more attention to the story than we most likely did then.

The plot revolves around Bathsheba Everdene, a young woman who has inherited some family property and is determined to run the farm on her own. She also finds herself emotionally drawn to three different men; Gabriel, a young farmer seeking work, Boldwood, an older established farmer who falls in love for the first time in his life with her and Sgt. Troy, who excites her with his swordplay(it's an actual sword, folks, let's not get too in the gutter here!).

Of course, Bathsheba goes through some trials and tribulations with her menfolk and the farm which leads her down a tough path that teaches her some hard life lessons. Trust me, in that time period(it was first published in 1874), an independently minded woman had to pay a high price for such boldness according to the social norms of the day. Bathsheba,nonetheless, is certainly a fictional heroine who made some considerable strides and it should be a pleasure to get to know her better:

I do confess that part of my motivation for picking this book was the upcoming release of a new film adaptation this May. Carey Mulligan will be playing Bathsheba and her suitors will be portrayed by Michael Sheen, Tom Sturridge and Matthias Schoenaerts.

In all likelihood, I won't be able to see this take on FFTMC in theaters but as part of my Page to Screen portion of this challenge, I will be watching the Julie Christie version in it's entirety(that film happens to be getting a re-release overseas right now).

I would love to see this latest version but due to budget restraints, it probably won't be possible. Judging from the trailer, this particular telling of the Hardy tale seems to be firmly planted in solid cinematic ground:

However, my film exploration of this story will extend to a rather modern re-telling as well.In the grand tradition of Clueless and Easy A, we do have a refitted to present times version of FFTMC.

 Tamara Drewe is based upon the graphic novel and comic strip by Posy Simmonds,with it's title heroine taking over the family homestead and wowing the locals with her improved appearance.

Stephen Friers directed the 2010 film, starring Gemma Atherton and Dominic Cooper. It looks to be a bit more satirical in tone than any of the other adaptations of the Hardy book, which should make this a lot of fun to watch. I'm planning a duel review of both this and the 1967 film and that ought to be interesting there:

Well, I'm off and running with Hardy's crowd and I just hope that this can be my ice breaking intro to his other works.

I did try The Mayor of Casterbridge but didn't get far(still have my copy,tho)with Tess and Jude the Obscure right next to each other in my Classic Lit TBR pile(yes, my TBRs have themes, that is how elaborate they've become).

My hopes are high, since my intake of time honored material has grown by leaps and bounds during the past couple of years. Plus, rediscovering this book promises to be rather engaging as no matter the time or place, love stories are always an incredible battlefield to behold:

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