The Well-Beloved

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With the passage of time Jocelyn comes to believe that the original Avice was the woman he least appreciated — the hereditary link between these three women seem in part at least, what draws Jocelyn toward them. The premise of this novel is an odd one I suppose, and yet Hardy makes it work, allowing him as it does to explores those old familiar themes. Intellectually I realised I probably shouldn't like this book as much as I did but I really enjoyed it. While the main character was a little silly I thought his idea of the beloved was interesting.

I liked it on a spooky level, the idea that women were being possessed by the one he loved who kept moving. It had a touch of a ghost story. The fact that he was in love with something so ephemeral, and yet in reality became so obsessed with one woman he rejected that he became so infatuated with her Intellectually I realised I probably shouldn't like this book as much as I did but I really enjoyed it. The fact that he was in love with something so ephemeral, and yet in reality became so obsessed with one woman he rejected that he became so infatuated with her daughter and her granddaughter was delightfully ironic.

Of all the three "Avice's" I think I liked the 2nd one best.

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She was not the best educated, but when she came out of her mother's shadow she seemed to have by far the most spirit. Answering back, doing what she wanted, and of course chasing her own beloved. I thought it telling that the narrator didn't use her real name but also referred to her as Avice. I also liked the brief portraits of the minor characters that came in from time to time.

Of course the fact that one man tried to get it on with mother daughter and grand-daughter is terribly creepy when you think about it. The fact that he failed every time made it amusing rather than sinister. I've been thinking a lot about growing up and growing old lately and I think this book did a wonderful job of examining this theme, almost more than it did looking at love, infatuation and obsession.

I also found that Hardy's style was by far the most beautiful of any of his books I've read so far. It was stunningly visual and personal. Definitely recommended.

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Nov 05, Katie Lumsden rated it it was ok. Rather a weird Hardy I loved the setting and the language, as always, was great, but the protagonist was quite unlikable and distinctly creepy, and there was only so long I could suspend my disbelief. Thomas Hardy produces a fairly short but interesting novel about a man who is cursed with falling in love with three generations of women, mother-daughter-granddaughter.

Jocelyn Pierston is first introduced as a 20 year-old who is about to embark on a highly successful career as a sculptor. On a return trip to his native town, he reunites with Avice Caro, the same age, and they agree to marry. A chance encounter with another woman, coupled with Avice not arriving when she said she would, takes h Thomas Hardy produces a fairly short but interesting novel about a man who is cursed with falling in love with three generations of women, mother-daughter-granddaughter.

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A chance encounter with another woman, coupled with Avice not arriving when she said she would, takes his life on a completely different trajectory. The second, and longest, part of the book occurs twenty years later. This time, Pierston wants to marry Avice's daughter the original Avice having died , but she is not interested in him. He ends up becoming a friend to her, and helps her get established in life by setting her husband up in business.

The final part is Pierston in another twenty years, when he is now Now he wants to marry the granddaughter of the original Avice, but she has no desire to marry a much older man and instead elopes with a man near her own age. The ending is rather abrupt and, for Hardy, not very good. It almost seems as if he is not sure how the story should end, or rather at what point it should end.

Pierston does ultimately get married - to the woman that he left the first Avice for forty years earlier. But by then they are both old and are content to live in close friendship.

Catalog Record: The well-beloved : a sketch of a temperament | HathiTrust Digital Library

I guess in a sense it is a happy ending for Pierston as, after a lifetime of living alone and with regrets, he has at last found companionship. Hardy has moments where he makes light of situations. On page 35, the young Pierston talks of a time when he was quite depressed and thought of taking his own life: "I went away to the edge of the harbour, intending to put an end to myself there and then.

But I had been told that crabs had been found clinging to the dead faces of persons who had fallen in thereabout, leisurely eating them, and the idea of such an unpleasant contingency deterred me. This is a fairly melancholy story and despite it being about Pierston, I did not think that I ever got to know the character very well. Hardy did not make him, or any of the other characters, very deep. This is by far not Hardy's best work, but neither is it a poor effort.

Ah, my well-beloved Hardy! According to the introduction, this was the last novel he ever wrote, before moving on to just poetry, fed up with the scandal caused by Jude the Obscure. It shows, this novel is not as narrative, as intricately plotted as others of his: it really just wants to present a thesis, a preconceived idea: what if a man falls in love over his life with three different women from the same family?

However, he falls in love with them while they are young and pretty, even if he i Ah, my well-beloved Hardy! However, he falls in love with them while they are young and pretty, even if he is getting older! Well, to sum up, it is a bit like what we call in Spanish "una novela de tesis", a bit like reading Unamuno. Cerebral, conceptual.

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In a way, it presents the life of a man as his failure in love, his failure to fulfill his love with any of the women with whom he falls in love. The sense of place again is beautiful.

How can a stranger manage to get so physically close to a woman in the nineteenth century? How can it be that -of course- at some point she will have to take off her clothes so a man can fall in love with her while putting them to dry? Whenever the little action moved to fashionable London I lost interested in the story and it ceased to ring true or special. I think this was partly intentional.

This artist is pulled to Portland, to his turf, all the time, a place where, as a friend points out, "a man might love a scarecrow or a turnip-lantern".

The Well-Beloved

I was also very interested to learn about the rural custom of "pre-marital sexual intercourse to determine the fertility of a couple, marriage following on from the woman's pregnancy", as explained in the notes. Have I read about this in Hardy's other books?


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Mar 16, Isa Kerr rated it really liked it. It was an absurd premise, yet Hardy came through, as he always does. The star-crossed lover Jocelyn starts out an idealistic young man, yet the long, dull march of time catches up to him in the end. I can't help but think this last of Hardy's novel is a reflection of his life at old age. The conclusion is especially sobering, yet welcomed, for it seems true, the best we can hope for in old age.

Pe It was an absurd premise, yet Hardy came through, as he always does. Perhaps not as great a work as "Jude" or "Tess", nonetheless, The conclusion of Well-Beloved should stay with you long after you finish the final page. This novel takes a look the temperament of a man in search of his perfect woman. Rather than being about that perfect woman it is more about the man who seeks her and his fickle heart. I have a tendency to believe that this novel was somewhat autobiographical of Thomas Hardy from what little I have read about his life.

A splendid late Hardy novel[ revised from a serialization ], linked in spirit to 'Tess' and 'Jude'. Very interesting stucture as the hero is involved with mother, daughter, grand-daughter, each of them 20ish, in his , 40s, and 60s.

The well-beloved

Semi-autobiographical feel, about the spirit of love, art, and the search for a partner in one's own image. Apr 19, Robin rated it it was amazing. This comparatively short novel was first published as a serial in It is known now in the revised version of five years later, which in a way makes it later than Jude the Obscure and thus Hardy's "last" novel. Typically as to Hardy's body of work, it portrays a tragic romance that challenges traditional sexual morals such as, in this case, monogamy.

Added to this is a poetic sense of fate, giving the storyline a touch of magical symmetry, like that of a fairy-tale or a folk legend. At the c This comparatively short novel was first published as a serial in At the center of the tragedy is a sculptor named Jocelyn Pierston, whose eye for beauty is both a gift and a curse. For, whether you read it as a literal truth or merely as the self-justifying whimsy of a faithless man, he considers himself the faithful lover of an ideal of womanhood—he calls her the Well-Beloved—who possesses one woman after another, never staying long in the same fleshly tabernacle.

And so we look in on Jocelyn's career at three stages in his life: as a young man of twenty, a young man of forty, and a young man of sixty. You know he doesn't deserve it, but the years are kind to him. He really keeps most of his youthful good looks, so that even at sixty women find him reasonably attractive, and would be surprised to learn his true age. But he pays dearly for this, and for his artistic eye. Breaking their engagement to be married proves to be the great mistake of his life, but he is carried away by an appearance of the Well-Beloved in the statuesque figure of Marcia.

Their marriage plans don't come off either, so Jocelyn throws himself into his art. Twenty years later, and another twenty years again, we drop in to find Jocelyn being captivated by successive generations of Avices. Both the daughter and the granddaughter of the original captivate him as much as the original.

A sad sense that the first Avice was really the love of his life, and regret for things that should have been but can never be, smolders beneath the tragedy of a man whose true love passes between three generations of the same family. The wrong that he did to the first Avice is repaid with interest—and with a beautiful symmetry that an artist must appreciate—as Pierston's desire to possess their great beauty is denied again and again.

And when the vision finally deserts him, it is such a strange mixture of blessing and injury that it will stir both thought and feeling. I read this book by way of Robert Powell's audiobook narration. In a medium I have known to reach fifty CDs, this book fit comfortably on six disks. Within these very modest dimensions, however, Hardy brings to life a memorable and distinct corner of his fictional county of Wessex: a wind-tousled, surf-spattered spit of stone, haunted by history, inhabited by gritty folks who have intermarried every-which-way and who all know each other's business.

It is a striking setting for a tale that touches on the brevity of youth's bloom of freshness and beauty, the sportive pranks of a genius that endures through one fleeting represtative after another, and the length for some of a life full of regret. I really liked that you get two stories in one with this book. In that way, I thought reading this book was a fun exercise, giving the reader a glimpse into the mind of the author during his writing process.

I have a feeling that if Hardy wrote The Pursuit of the Well-Beloved one hundred years earlier, I have a sneaking suspicion that it would have been better received. To tell the truth, when I was doing research on Hardy, I was very hesitant upon reading this book; thought it would be too much for my sensibilities. I found that Hardy masked the grotesque nature of the story with humor.

He knew the origin of that line in his forehead; it had been ploughed in the course of a month or two by a crisis in his matrimonial trouble. He remembered the coming of this pale wiry hair… This wrinkled corner, that drawn bit of skin…. To this once handsome face had been brought by the raspings, chisellings, stewings, bakings, and freezings of forty years.

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