The text reprinted in this volume is based on Hardy’s final revision for the 1912 Wessex Edition and includes his Preface and Postscript.
The novel is fully annotated and is accompanied by Hardy’s map of Wessex and a plan of late Victorian Oxford (the Christminster of the novel).
The textual history of Jude the Obscure
—including an account of the surviving manuscript showing Hardy’s major change of intention during its composition, of the pressure to bowdlerize the novel, and of the subsequent restoration and revisions—is traced in a series of extracts from Hardy’s writings as well as from those of his contemporaries and of modern scholars Richard Little Purdy, John Paterson, and Robert C. Slack.
Selections from Hardy’s poems, autobiography, letters, and journalistic writings provide a background to the novel. Autobiographical elements and the social climate of the period in which Hardy lived and wrote are discussed by C. J. Weber and W. R. Rutland, and Hardy’s use of locale is explored in a section prepared specially for this edition.
"Contemporary Reception" provides a selection of reviews. "Modern Criticism" is provided by Irving Howe, Arthur Mizener, A. Alvarez, J. I. M. Stewart, Harvey Curtis Webster, D. H. Lawrence, Albert J. Guerard, Robert Gittings, Frederick P. W. McDowell, and Emma Clifford.
A Selected Bibliography is included.