No, I’m not reading about financial panics or the U.S. political system. I just finished Thomas Hardy’s Jude the Obscure (1895). Having read and enjoyed The Mayor of Casterbridge, also by Hardy, I’ve always wanted to read this book. It was said to be so depressing that — along with its portrayal of marriage — it was roundly denounced by mainstream opinion, and subsequently Hardy gave up writing novels altogether. Any other Hardy fans out there?