It doesn't matter how often I've read the explanation of the title of Hardy's novel Far From The Madding Crowd, I can never get it clear in my mind what it means, except that's it's not what you'd think.
Now at last I've sorted it out. The thing is that madding has two meanings.
Madding can mean the same as maddening, but as far as Hardy's book is concerned it means behaving as if mad.
Now, luckily, most crowds don't act as if they're mad. There's usually not room, for one thing, and for another few people have the energy to do more than shuffle dispiritedly along.
Luckily, too, madding crowds are quite easily avoided. And as a) I have no intention of going anywhere near a Massive Last-Chance Sale, b) I am usually fast asleep by the time the bars close, and c) I'm more of a believer in focused arguments than walking up and down with placards, I should be safe enough.
Thing To Be Far From Today: the madding crowd. The word mad comes from the Old English gemǣdan, to render insane, related to gemād, insane.
By the way, I have definitely read Far From The Madding Crowd, but can remember absolutely nothing about it except for a vague impression of brownish green. Knowing Hardy, though, it probably concerns a doomed love affair or two.
Best to avoid those, too.
PS I've just looked up FFTMC, and it's the one about Bathsheba Everdene.
So I was right, then.
Gosh, though, they weren't that much saner in the countryside, were they?