|From Library Journal :
Hardy's 1866 novel gets the red carpet treatment here. Like Broadview's recent edition of Dracula (Classic Returns, LJ 1/98), this includes a scholarly preface and introduction, a chronicle of Hardy's life, and several appendixes. All that for $9.95 makes this an absolute steal.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
The Mayor of Casterbridge
is a novel about Henchard뭩 몊truggle into love and the struggle with love� . . . Hardy is clearly an expert in moods and maps out the terrain . . . like a writer who knows the emotional landscape intimately.� 뻜rom the Introduction by Craig Raine --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From the Publisher
Founded in 1906 by J.M. Dent, the Everyman Library has always tried to make the best books ever written available to the greatest number of people at the lowest possible price. Unique editorial features that help Everyman Paperback Classics stand out from the crowd include: a leading scholar or literary critic's introduction to the text, a biography of the author, a chronology of her or his life and times, a historical selection of criticism, and a concise plot summary. All books published since 1993 have also been completely restyled: all type has been reset, to offer a clarity and ease of reading unique among editions of the classics; a vibrant, full-color cover design now complements these great texts with beautiful contemporary works of art. But the best feature must be Everyman's uniquely low price. Each Everyman title offers these extensive materials at a price that competes with the most inexpensive editions on the market-but Everyman Paperbacks have durable binding, quality paper, and the highest editorial and scholarly standards. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
|Reviewer: Victoria Holiday (Beattyville, KY) -
The Mayor of Casterbridge has so many plot twists and turns that it would not be an exaggeration to label this book as a "plot spiral." With practically every new section, Hardy invents a new way to reveal some surprising (and sometimes not so surprising) twist to the plot line. Hardy creates a complex story about love, lust, relationships, economical hardship, family, shifts in power, and more in a beautiful and picturesque way. He concentrates so much on detail that it seems as if you are watching the events first hand. His style presents information as if you were reading it in the form of a play. He nearly always sets up the scene before beginning the action, which makes it so much easier to delve deeply into the action of the characters.
Hardy also creates enormously dynamic characters that are subject to so many changes throughout the novel that they become like real people. The author's grip on human emotions makes his characters believable and easily loved and then hated. The fluctuating emotions of the main character, Michael Henchard, as he falls subject to disappointment in every avenue of his life is a true example of Hardy's gift for characterization.
The contrast of the out-dated and underdeveloped town of Casterbridge vs. the complexity of the relationships that develop within it is brilliant and makes the reactions of the common townspeople to these relationships even more significant to the development of the setting and also the relationships themselves. Though not portrayed obviously in the book, the town of Casterbridge itself plays a very large role in the story. As Hardy thrusts outsiders from other cultures into this archaic town, things suddenly become very complicated and even more so when the newcomers begin to meet and mix together. The Scotchman, Farfrae, and Lucetta, the Jersey girl, as well as some others, react in such a way to the old ways of this society as to disrupt the harmony of this simple community, making this novel an avenue for Hardy to demonstrate his gift for rich dialogue and language, as created in direct relation to the character占퐏 point of origin.
Hardy has created a book about rises and downfalls of a small group of people and presents a very fitting theme about the events of ones life and how they affect everyone around them in death. I must say that I enjoyed this novel for its substance and complexity, as well as the timelessness of the general plot outline.
"Since I have decided to dedicate part of my time spent reading in 2003 to the classics, I started first with The Mayor of Casterbridge, not the most famous of Hardy's works but seemingly a good place to start. I will definitely read the other works by this author since I was so captivated by this book.
The novel begins with the sale of Michael Henchard's wife and child to the highest bidder at a local summer fair. Henchard is drunk and his wife, tired of his habits, decides to leave with the sailor who bids on her and her daughter. Henchard wakes up the next morning, somewhat remorseful for what he has done and vows not to drink for twenty-one years.
The very next chapter picks up the story nineteen years later, with the return of the wife and child into Henchard's life. Henchard is now quite wealthy and is such an important man in his community, he is now Mayor of Casterbridge. From here, a series of wrong decisions and misunderstandings lead to the devastating conclusion.
Hardy is well known for his tendency towards gloomy endings and this book certainly fits the mold. But he is also well known for his lyrical descriptions of the English countryside and describing a way of life which had disappeared even in his own time. There were beautiful passages about the hay carts being driven through town, loaded so high that people on the second floor of homes could reach out and touch the top of the hay. Small details abound, describing the sound of rain on trees and the smell of the local foods. But perhaps the most significant aspect of the novel for me was the feeling that Henchard had wished for everything that had happened to him, and all of his wishes came true, and thus ultimately his downfall. These wishes were almost all made in a rash moment, when perhaps a minute or more of reflection could have produced a clearer head. Yet Henchard lives by his instincts, since for almost twenty years they seemed to serve him well.
I would recommend this book to any serious literature lover and I believe it serves as a good introduction to his other works. His books serve as a bridge from Victorian literature to modern literature, with no happy endings guaranteed." "When one finishes "Casterbridge," one is immediately struck by its place in the development of the novel. Hardy came after Dickens and before James, and his style intrigues as you connect parts of it to the former, parts to the latter.
His plotting is sort of Dickens "lite." There are mysterious benefactors, sudden tragic deaths, reversals of fortune, paternity mysteries, ect. His prose is cleaner and easier to read than both Dickens and James; "Casterbridge" scans better than "Bleak House" or "The Wings of the Dove."
The story begins when a pastoral laborer, in a drunken rage, sells his wife and child one evening (I hate it when that happens...). When he wakes the next morning, abhorred at what he has done, he swears off liquor and decides to make something of his life. The novel truly begins eighteen years later, when his wife and daughter come back to present themselves to him. In the course of the rest of the novel, we witness the fall of the now Mayor of Casterbridge, brought about by his own character flaws and the interventions of fate.
Henchard, the main character, is a facinating combination of hot-spirited volition and turn-on-a-dime repentance. He is quick to do things which damn him but just as quick to admit his guilt. He is a wonderful character and a precursor to the later "psychological" novels of James and Forster. The satellite characters remind one of Dickens, but they are not nearly as startling and interesting, but of course, a character such as Henchard never existed in all of Dickens.
The novel proceeds to its forgone conclusion inexorably, albiet with a few melodromatic touches, yet it sustains its tone and readibility due mostly to Henchard, and the dramatic situations Hardy puts him through.
Well worth a look. "
"At first I was forced to read "The Mayor of Casterbridge" in school more than 12 years ago. Reading it slowly made an impact on my life. This book always served a special purpose in my life. It introduced me to the wide world of Literature. It sort of enlighten my interest and liking for English literature. Now re-reading it not only brought back fond memories of my yester school days but also renewed my liking to one of the greatest writer of all time Thomas Hardy.
Through this novel I came to the understanding of Irony and oxymoron. Hardy totally wrote with a sense of awareness of human characteristic and he had a amazing style of mixed humour with tragedy.
His protagonist,Michael Henchard's life was under the microscope of Hardy.
I love the way the story began I quote:"ONE evening of late summer, before the nineteenth century had reached one-third of its span, a young man and woman, the latter carrying a child, were approaching the large village of Weydon-Priors, in Upper Wessex, on foot. " I love the Englishness and the sense of intriguing events that would follow...
In brief, Michael Henchard was a drunk who sold his wife and daughter at the fair. Later he realised his mistakes he work real hard and eventually became the mayor of Casterbridge. His life took another twist 20 years later when his wife and daughter came back to his life plus a few more other characters adding on the complexity of his life.Soonafter events unfolded and many things became to go against his way and then came his downfall. Indeed Michael Henchard's rise and fall were filled with compelling details and his encounters with numerous intestering people.
What I love most about this novel was the way Hardy depicted Henchard's behaviours and thoughts and totally enhanced his weak character and irresponsibleness with dashes of ironies. His sardonic literary style were brilliant and at the same time he also vividly described the scenery and situations. Another greatest of Hardy was his ability to create innovative characters still account for in modern contemporary days and he was a pioneer in analysising human's weakness and blended it into his creation. It's a vintage classic,psychoanalytic and intriguingly written ,a must read for all books lover." "