- Paperback: 400 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Classics; New Ed edition (24 Feb. 1994)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 014062029X
- ISBN-13: 978-0140620290
- Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 1.5 x 18.1 cm
- Average Customer Review: 291 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,029,278 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Mayor of Casterbridge (The Penguin English Library) Paperback – 24 Feb 1994
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In a fit of drunken anger, Michael Henchard sells his wife and baby daughter for five guineas at a country fair. Over the course of the following years, he manages to establish himself as a respected and prosperous pillar of the community of Casterbridge, but behind his success there always lurk the shameful secret of his past and a personality prone to self-destructive pride and temper. Subtitled 'A Story of a Man of Character', Hardy's powerful and sympathetic study of the heroic but deeply flawed Henchard is also an intensely dramatic work, tragically played out against the vivid backdrop of a close-knit Dorsetshire town.
From the Back Cover
Under the powerful influence of the rum furmity, Michael Henchard, a hay-trusser by trade, sells his wife susan and their child Elizabeth-Jane to Newson, a sailor, for five guineaus.
Years later, Susan, now a widow, arrives in Casterbridge to seek her legal husband. To their surprise, Henchard is now the Mayor of Casterbridge and following the sale of his wife, took a twenty-one-year vow not to drink, out of shame. Henchard remarries Susan and as Elizabeth-Jane believes herself to be Newson's daughter, he adopts her as his own. But he cannot evade his destiny by such measures, for his past refuses to be buried. Fate contrives for him to be punished for the recklessness of his younger days.
In this powerful depiction of a man who overreaches himself, Hardy once again show his acute psycological grasp and his deep-seated knowledge of mid-nineteenth century Dorset.See all Product description
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Briefly, this is a story of a west country man's fortunes throughout his adult life and we experience his ups and downs. By no means is he a perfect character. But despite having many faults we are still drawn to him, I think because when it really matters, he does the right thing.
Of course a lot has been written about this novel, from the splotchy pens of generations of school children to the typewriters and latterly the computers of professional reviewers and I doubt I could aspire to adding much new. However, I think it's worth noting that Hardy's language in relating this tale is fascinating. Looking at it in the second decade of the 21st century, I find the words and phraseology fascinating. There are words that over time have changed in meaning, some have disappeared from use and phrases that you can discern from their surroundings that you therefore understand and only serve to delight. For this reason, this book is a historical record of a past time, not only in the way that they live, but of the ever changing English language. But even further than that, we learn how the poor were treated with a rudimentary facsimile of a welfare system and also the state of development of the criminal court system in that period.
But above all, I'm sure that Hardy wanted to produce a book that provides entertainment, interest and provokes thought. Through the ages, it has done that and still does.
Henchard arrives in town with his wife and baby daughter with very little money and no job, After a very stupid drunken act he throws his and his families lives into a downward spiral that he never escapes. He moves to Casterbridge and over the years things seem to be on the up for him, but as I said he can never make right the mistake he made and he is to live a nightmare for what he did. A great story, very well thought out and written, a brilliant book.
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