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Thread: Far from the MADDING(???) Crowd

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    Registered User AARONDISNEY's Avatar
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    Far from the MADDING(???) Crowd

    This may be a dumb question, but what does the title mean? I (maybe naively) thought that I would be introduced to a 'crowd' that went by the name 'Madding' and someone wanted to get 'far from' them.

    I've heard people use this phrase in speaking. I had always heard of this novel and thought they were borrowing the phrase from the novel.

    Evidently the novel's title is borrowed from a popular phrase.

    Anyone know what it means???

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    Just to get away to some place quiet.

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    Moderator Logos's Avatar
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    No dumb questions, for years I thought the book title was 'far from the maddening crowd"
    I just saw the 1967 version of the movie, pretty fab.

    From Online Etymology
    http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?...earchmode=none

    --action of the obs.[olete] verb mad "to make insane," c.1300; now principally in the phrase far from the madding crowd, title of a novel by Hardy (1874), who lifted it from a line of Gray's "Elegy" (1749), which seems to echo a line from Drummond of Hawthornden from 1614.
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    Registered User AARONDISNEY's Avatar
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    Thanks, logos. After reading the book it seems that all the main characters (with the exception of Gabriel Oak) are mad because they are all a little off their rockers.

    And their interaction with each other just makes them madder (more insane) especially Boldwood's unrequited love for Bathsheba.

    Thanks again. I'm still not real sure what the "far from" in the title is all about.
    Seems like everyone stays in the middle of and becomes part of the madding crowd.

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    Far from te madding crowd was called far from the frenzied crowd but was changed to madding it refers to the fact that the novel is set i the countryside away from the town or city which is known as the crowd and as madding. The country is seen as an idealic place to be away from the madness of the city.

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    Ah! The reference is to a line from "Elegy in a Country Churchyard" (1751)by Thomas Gray ( incidentally, a poem parodied yesterday by yours truly on this forum) Here is the line:

    Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife,
    Their sober wishes never learned to stray;
    Along the cool sequestered vale of life
    They kept the noiseless tenor of their way.


    The sense of "madding" here might mean wild or
    unbridled or raving.


    (How about that rhyme and that scannable prosody, huh?
    They don't write 'em like they used to. Seriously.)

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    far from the "frenzied" world

    Hardy is always about the development of the soul... the individual's emerging from the culture, from the "herd". His was the culture of the English rural society- simple, bucolic, stifling. When the individual emerges out, it can be called "destiny", when the society pulls them back in it's "fate". Hardy is about "the tragic".

    The title "Far from the Madding Crowd" implies that real life, meaningful life, the imperative soulful dilemma of finding oneself "against the herd" really takes place away from the world, away from the trappings and seductions that the busy "world" presents so convincingly.

    Hardy is not easy to read in that his language takes time to attune to. Some works are better than others. Many consider Jude the Obscure his greatest work. I won't disagree. But I reread several novels lately (not Jude) and found that all were worthy, yet Tess of the D'Urbervilles is as good as literature gets in this English language.

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    Windthatshakesthebarley Black Flag's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robspo View Post
    Hardy is not easy to read in that his language takes time to attune to. Some works are better than others. Many consider Jude the Obscure his greatest work. I won't disagree. But I reread several novels lately (not Jude) and found that all were worthy, yet Tess of the D'Urbervilles is as good as literature gets in this English language.


    I've always said, even on these forums, that reading Hardy is like eating a tootsie roll pop. It takes awhile to get to the "good stuff" but you're always glad you took the time.

    After I finish one of his novels, I'm always like "whoa. What did I just read?" The pastoral settings *and even scenes on most of the covers of copies available at bookstores are a disguise, a robe, a falsity. Hardy novels, almost to a book, Under the Greenwood Tree excepting, are largely dark and tragic.

    But you only realize that after you finish.
    "Friends stab you in the front" --Oscar Wilde

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    Registered User kelby_lake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Black Flag View Post
    Hardy novels, almost to a book, Under the Greenwood Tree excepting, are largely dark and tragic.

    But you only realize that after you finish.
    I think you realise quite early on that the book will be tragic. I wouldn't call Far From The Madding Crowd tragic. Really, his novels are about the inability to fight your fate. Unfortunately for most of the characters, they seem destined to a tragic one.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AARONDISNEY View Post
    Thanks, logos. After reading the book it seems that all the main characters (with the exception of Gabriel Oak) are mad because they are all a little off their rockers.

    And their interaction with each other just makes them madder (more insane) especially Boldwood's unrequited love for Bathsheba.

    Thanks again. I'm still not real sure what the "far from" in the title is all about.
    Seems like everyone stays in the middle of and becomes part of the madding crowd.
    Dear Arrondisney - your observation is very good. Hardy's title is ironic. People tend to think of the country as a quiet peaceful place, away from the turmoil of industry and the city, but it is not.

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    My 'Shorter Oxford English Dictionary' says in the entry for MADDING:
    1. Becoming mad; acting madly; frenzied. Now chiefly in: far from the madding crowd. (of a place) secluded, removed from public notice.

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    Sorry I posted it twice.

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