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Penguin Classics Mayor Of Casterbridge Mass Market Paperback – Feb 1 1998

4.0 out of 5 stars 65 customer reviews

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Mass Market Paperback, Feb 1 1998
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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classic; New edition edition (Feb. 1 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140435131
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140435139
  • Product Dimensions: 14.1 x 2.1 x 20.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 272 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars 65 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #3,783,271 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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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.


“Hardy’s world is a world that can never disappear.” —Margaret Drabble --This text refers to an alternate Mass Market Paperback edition.

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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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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Thomas Hardy has often been accused of being a pessimist - so what! Bad things happen to ordinary people in real life and that was the way Hardy wrote. "The Mayor of Casterbridge" can be seen as a pessimistic book but to me it's just the story of Michael Henchard, a man who strives in vain to escape the mistakes of his past.

In this novel, the young Michael Henchard got drunk and sold his wife and child out of frustration with his lot in life and upon sobering up the next day swore off booze for 21 years (his age at the time) and went on over the years to become a successful businessman and the mayor of a town. Things unravelled for him from that point...but I won't ruin the story. I will say that Michael Henchard was a more likeable character than Donald Farfrae who came across as one of those people who is superficially nice but really devoid of character and feeling. Henchard, warts and all, is the more human of the two.

Hardy did a wonderful job of recording a vanished way of life in rural England; for that alone "The Mayor of Casterbridge" deserves praise. I think I'll delve deeper into the lives of the folks of Wessex, it was an interesting time and place, now lost to mass production and mass consumerism. Thomas Hardy preserved it for us, all we need do is read and enjoy.
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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
I'm re-reading this book that thrilled me years ago and thrills me today. Now, however, I realize just how "modern" it is, even more so than the works of Dickens, whom I also revere, but whose writing had a quaint quality that actually makes him the lesser artist, in my opinion. Hardy's writing is spare but nothing is left out. You feel it, you taste it, you live it. It has the firm, sure quality of a minimalist work of art, and yet the twists and turns of its plot are dizzying. I detect its influence on novelist Toni Morrison, I might add. I'd be willing to bet she's a Hardy scholar. I read many passages, many scenes, that reminded me of her "folksy" conceits. And I was amazed at Hardy's contemporary understanding of addiction, in this case alcoholism. In fact, Henchard is a "dry drunk." He abstains from liquor for 21 years, but his character defects and lack of spiritual awareness catapault him right back into his disease when he begins drinking again. In fact, his life spirals out of control faster and faster with his first return to drink, showing that alcoholism, like all addictions, is a progressive disease. A reviewer here said the book was depressing, and that Hardy is dark. However, the "light" in Hardy comes with his wisdom, not unlike Faulkner's, of human nature. There are so many themes of the enduring truths that one is uplifted just by the reading. Sometimes I mourn for the writers I will never meet, the ones who have passed on. Their teaching is so important to my own spiritual and artistic growth, that I have experienced a great love from them and for them. Hardy is one of those for me. Wherever he dwells now, I send him my appreciation.
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