The Mayor of Casterbridge (Penguin Popular Classics) Paperback – 26 Jul 2007
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"Hardy's world is a world that can never disappear." --Margaret Drabble
Hardy s world is a world that can never disappear. Margaret Drabble" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From the Inside Flap
One of Hardy's most powerful novels, "The Mayor of Casterbridge opens with a shocking and haunting scene: In a drunken rage, Michael Henchard sells his wife and daughter to a visiting sailor at a local fair. When they return to Casterbridge some nineteen years later, Henchard--having gained power and success as the mayor--finds he cannot erase the past or the guilt that consumes him. "The Mayor of Casterbridge is a rich, psychological novel about a man whose own flaws combine with fate to cause his ruin.
This Modern Library Paperback Classic reprints the authoritative 1912 Wessex edition, as well as Hardy's map of Wessex.
"From the Trade Paperback edition. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
It is also a human tragedy, explained at its best by the inimitable Hardy and although it was written many years ago, it does show that human nature remains very much the same as it always was and you could almost put it into a modern setting and alter the scenery a little and it would be up-to-date, so to speak.
All of Hardy's books are great (I was first introduced to them whilst studing for 'O' Levels in the 1950's and have continued to read them again and again since)and although the grammar and syntax are quite dissimilar to that of today they are easy to read and the stories are great.
Michael Henchard is a young man of twenty-one and walking the countryside of Dorset with his wife, Susan, and their baby girl, Elizabeth-Jane, looking for work. They decide to rest a while in a small village where there is a fayre and several drinks later, Michael starts loudly asking for bidders to buy his wife. After accepting 5 guineas from a sailor he wakes later to realise that they have actually gone and when he realises what he has done he swears not to drink a drop more of alcohol for another 21 years (as long as he has so far lived). He starts to make enquiries about where the sailor and his family may have gone but nobody knows who he is and Michael is too ashamed of his conduct to search too effectively and he sets off on the road once more, alone.
The story then fast-forwards eighteen years and Michael is now the Mayor of Casterbridge (modelled on Dorchester in Dorset).Read more ›
No clear conclusions about the nature of fate are reached. It is not clear, at least not to me, what Hardy really thought about it, but it is very apparent that he meditated deeply on the subject.
There is much more to this novel besides, the town of Casterbridge, with its Roman ruins, agrarian economy and civic machinations, is brought beautifully to life. Moreover, in addition to Henchard, Hardy introduces us to several other very memorable characters, not least Elizabeth-Jane who is arguably the novel's true hero or heroine. Quietly, solidly she observes, reads and grows until finally she achieves a degree of happiness that is forever denied to most of those around her, including of course Henchard, her unfortunate `father'. Not an easy read by any standards, but the characters and themes in this book are sure to linger with you long after you close the final page
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
There is a chunk of the book missing so I had to try and work out what had happened. Hardy's writing is brilliant as expected but the plot is rather odd and it is hard in 2016 to... Read morePublished 23 days ago by cherryred
Hardy was a talented writer and his evocation of nature and country life is usually quite brilliantly done. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Kublai
I'm a real Thomas Hardy fan and have really enjoyed reading this book. I love the way he writes and you feel you know the characters and the tribulations they go through. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Emms
Was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. The story is way ahead of its time and I loved the little twists in the plot! Very wordy! Sometimes 5 words when one would have done! Read morePublished 2 months ago by Mrs N J Gerrard