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Penguin Classics Mayor Of Casterbridge [Mass Market Paperback]

Thomas Hardy , Keith Wilson
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Dec 29 1997 Penguin Classics
Thomas Hardy's fascination with the dualities inherent in human nature is at the root of The Mayor of Casterbridge, now in a brand-new edition. In a drunken fit Michael Henchard sells his wife and infant daughter to a sailor at a country fair; when sobriety returns the following day, he is unable to find and reclaim his family. Vowing to transform his life, he settles in the town of Casterbridge, where he eventually rises to the position of mayor. Henchard is a man whose impulses are at war with one another, and when his wife and daughter, now a young woman, appear in Casterbridge, these internal contradictions drive him to commit acts that spell his final destruction. Employing the elements of classic tragedy Hardy took the English novel in a new direction, emerging as both the last Victorian novelist and the first modern one, and defines themes that would occupy such twentieth-century writers as Conrad and Lawrence.

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Product Description

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 Henchard’s ‘struggle 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.” –from the Introduction by Craig Raine --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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One evening of late summer, before the present century had reached its thirtieth year, a young man and woman, the latter carrying a child, were approaching the large village of Wevdon-Priors on foot. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Possibly the Perfect Tragic Character May 31 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
When Thomas Hardy penned The Mayor of Casterbridge, he brought to life a very authentic character in Michael Henchard. He is possibly the perfect tragic character. The only other character I can think of to compare him to as I struggle to describe him and the story - for he is so much the story - is King Lear. But where Lear was a King who was foolish, Michael is the common man, a simple hay trusser, with several character flaws ... most notably shortsightedness and a desire to "be on top". He at no point feels something that most people don't but where we restrain our first rash and selfish actions (most of the time), he goes full out until he has cost himself everything and too late finds redemption. His flaw is insidious and all too common, so we relate easily even through his most outrageous misadventures.
In a fit of drunken despondency, feeling that he is being pulled down by the responsibility of being a twenty-one year old husband and father, he jests that he would gladly part with his wife and daughter for the sum of five pounds. After having sworn this so vehemently for the entire evening, he has little recourse when someone takes him up on it and his wife, in shame and anger, agrees to go with the purchaser, taking their daughter with her. When sobriety brings full realization, it also brings a vow of temperance from Michael who in the following fifteen years builds himself up to a position respectability and public admiration in the nearby town of Casterbridge.
Though he seems to have learned his lesson, we are only on chapter two and his story is just beginning as his wife and child return and his friendship with a trusted friend and critical advisor becomes a bitter rivalry. Time and again he demands allegiance when he need only ask it and return it in kind.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars June 27 2014
By Sally
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Wonderful human interest story for all times. Picture of every day life in an English small town.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good story, no pictures? Jan. 20 2013
By Maryum
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
there were no pictures!!! In my hard copy i have pictures but my kindle was showing me any. it was a good story though
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Tragedy! March 15 2008
Everything starts off well, then goes down hill from there. This story is depressing but it does teach a lesson: that your past will eventually catch up to you. I would recommend this book to anyone, since it is an exciting story and it keeps you wondering if the worst of all things you can imagine will happen.
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of the greatest beginnings ever in a book. Feb. 25 2004
Mayor of Casterbridge is a tale about a man named Michael Henchard and the mistakes he makes in life. It is really well written, Hardy has a skill for great storytelling. There are so many surprises and details, which you at first think at irrelevant turn out to be the turning factors of the entire book. Hardy is not one who puts in a lot of useless text, everything has to be thoroughly read or you will not enjoy it. Anyways boys and girls, hope you enjoy this, I sure did
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5.0 out of 5 stars Casting a long shadow Feb. 15 2004
I was nearly put off reading this by friends who termed it "depressing". This trivialises it, for it is, to my mind, truly tragic. In a shockingly irresponsible drunken act, protagonist Michael Henchard sells his wife at a local fair. The consequences, stretching over a couple of decades, sweep away both him and other characters.
The plot teems with journeys, coincidences, long-lost people showing up, and a strong vein of morality. In typical Hardyesque style, Henchard moves from the height of civic success to bankruptcy and alienation. A quasi-Greek-tragedy air of fate prevails, but Hardy manages to keep suspense alive. Protagonist and antagonist (Farfrae) are pitted against each other on civic and domestic fronts. There is not one Mayor of Casterbridge, but two, and success, failure and rivalry play a large part. There is also competition among the males as lovers, husbands and fathers.
This novel gives an insight into civic life, the worthy burgesses of Casterbridge networking in their council-rooms and taverns. But the animal instincts of the wife-sale, the gutter-press viciousness of the locals' "skimmity-ride", and the proximity of the countryside, where so many Victorian characters wander to survive and to lay bare their feelings, reveal the fragility of civilisation and our urban constructs.
Great stuff.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wow. Not bad for senior reading. Jan. 30 2004
I had to read this book for my honors English class. The book will seem like worthless description if you don't look up biographical notes on Thomas Hardy. It has a great plot line but it is unfortunately chracterized by the bleak and gray atmosphere of Thomas Hardy. A great read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Truly Talented Writing Dec 11 2003
I greatly enjoyed The Mayor of Casterbridge, not only for its clear and concise explanations, dialogue and emotional energy, but also for its themes. The loss of a wife, mother, daughter, love, husband, father and mentor are all carried off extremely well. I chose to read this book for a project I'm doing in my English class and although it was not my first choice, I do recommend it to anyone who loves English literature. I'm a big fan of Dickens and Hardy and truly loved this magnificent piece of work.
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