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Someone has been roasting a waxen image of me Why is it that certain things you read in your youth stay with you forever So it has been with this sentence from The Mayor of Casterbridge, which I had to read in school There are many things that have stayed with me from those days, but little quite as much as this book I am not sure why Maybe it is the credible characterisation, maybe it is the subtle turns of plot that make you smile, frown, cross and shout in fury at the pig headed yet immensely warm protogonist Henchard Maybe it is the wonderful vocabulary Maybe it is just that this is a delightful story, which I have read again this week, and enjoyed every bit as much all these years later as I did then Thank you Mrs Rooke, my English teacher, for making me read this book And if you read this review, I hope it inspires you to read The Mayor of Casterbridge It will stay with you for a long time.S Pearce, author of Mo I d heard Hardy was a bit of a chore, so instead of his chunky novels I went slender with The Mayor of Casterbridge as my first I m not sure it was a wise choice Not because I thought it was bad by any means The writing s quite good, the story held my interest, but jeez louise, this is bleak stuff It s bleaker than Bleak House Are all this books like this I m not normally depressed, but I may have to put myself on suicide watch just to get through another one of his novels Seriously though, I don t mind a dose of miserable realism now and then, and I liked that peek into an odd and terrible matrimonial tradition Stories based on drunken missteps that linger into lifelong regrets do not generally lend themselves to frivolity and this book is not about happy happy good times Back in merry ole England and no doubt many other places if a man no longer loved his woman, he could get rid of her and potentially make a profit What a world Some day I ll get around to meeting Tess of the d Ubervilles, but I fear by the end of the encounter I may want to get as Far from the Madding Crowd as possible Ooof, finally finished this trudge trudge trudge of a book, and it isn t even that long Maybe I m getting feeble but Thomas Hardy s manytentacled sentences and trillion 19th century rural slang words presented a north face of the Eiger challenge for my little brain strange words like clane, felloe, furmety, gaberlunzie, twanking, diment, rantipole and comminatory and many many , and sentences like this deep breath As the lively and sparkling emotions of her early married life cohered into an equable serenity, the finer movements of her nature found scope in discovering to the narrow lived ones around her the secret as she had once learnt it of making limited opportunities endurable by a species of microscopic treatment, of those minute forms of satisfaction that offer themselves to everybody not in positive pain which, this handled, have much of the same inspiriting effect upon life as wider interests cursorily embraced You like that one Heck, I got another While life s middle summer had set its hardening mark on the mother s face, her former spring like specialities were transferred so dexterously by Time to the second figure, her child, that the absence of certain facts within her mother s knowledge from the girl s mind would have seemed for the moment, to one reflecting on those facts, to be a curious imperfection in Nature s powers of continuity.Yeah time to lie down for 20 minutes I guess I got what I thought I was going to get with this book an intricate tale of the playing out of the intertwined fates of four characters who marry each other, lie about their origins to each other, lie about each others origins to each other, don t marry each other, have the hots for each other, love each other, hate each other, betray each other, turn the tables on each other and in general bamboozlerize each other until the poor reader s head is spinning The plot is as constricted and convoluted as a box of pythons it s like a Coen Brothers movie, like Blood Simple or Burn After Reading It s a lethal quadrille The sexual politics of this unlikely tale are just weird The young around 21 I guess Michael Henchard auctions off his wife in the first famous scene and then lives as a bachelor for the next 18 years He explains Being something of a woman hater, I have found it no hardship to keep mostly at a distance from the sex The next big emotional entanglement he makes after 18 years of celibacy is with a man An entrancing young Scotsman to be precise, we could be thinking maybe Ewan McGregor in Shallow Grave or David Tennant as Doctor Who Henchard by now hizzoner The Mayor of Casterbridge practically falls in love with this guy Then suddenly back comes the wife he sold with daughter in tow and the merry dance begins Swing your partners, one two three Reading this Hardy novel was like watching an old mournful elephant skilfully pick up three peas and juggle them expertly with his one enormous trunk and then turn round and plod massively back into the trackless jungle smashing bamboo plants and ripping creepers apart as he went, one large tear trickling down his cheek. I give it five stars because it seems nearly a perfect example of its type of craft This book has an intertwined and flawless plot that is never overcomplicated it is full of wonderful language, rich with regional variation, for instance the tenor of Donald Farfrae s Scottish is exceptionally musical and not like the speech of his peers There were moments reading this book I felt so much under the sway of the author s power that I could observe him wirte himself into one tight plot corner and then another and then skillfully find his way out from all Plot plot plot There s a lot to learn here Everything they told us in graduate school started here plot springs from character don t coddle your characters reveal their weaknesses, build plot around their flaws Let their mistakes haunt their lives forever Don t get bogged down in narrative tangents The simplicity of this tale makes room for its psychological richness not the same as complexity, just depth I wish I could do this In comparision to the other 19th century realists with whom Hardy is often compared, Hardy it seems to me is the purest of them all He doesn t get lost in well meaning documentarian slumming as Zola did, and he has less of the pathos of Wharton or James That said I prefer Wharton and James somehow their characters seem yettragic I m not sure why perhaps there is a teeny bit less subtely and elegance to Hardy s writing His is sure footed, Anglo saxon, stubborn, forceful And yet with beautiful moments of authorial reflection We ll have to take a poll. What a silly novel Much of these unfortunate destinies could have been prevented if only the characters weren t so stupid and didn t make so many irrational and unbelievable decisions But what an entertaining story this is It s got a shocking beginning and a lot of plot twists that I didn t see coming, I just wish that it didn t feel like Thomas Hardy was pushing the plot forward in an unnatural and quite unbelievable way I won t go too much into the plot and the characters decisions which I disagree with because I want for you to be surprised when you read it I will say, though, that this is quite an entertaining book, however in my eyes not the strongest work of Hardy s. It seems The Mayor of Casterbridge can end only in one direction as this Mayor is continually victimized by his own shortcomings As the novel begins, we witness the famous selling of his wife while he is in a drunken stupor, not caring about anything or anyone else in the world Years later, he has his chance to make changes, amends but his essential character prevents this He sees evil and devils where there are none and increases small faults to large He turns friends to enemies and enemies to people who will do him wrong.I used to think that Hardy was about fate when I was young but now I see him as about character His people earn the good and bad that happens by how they interact with the world around them, by their meanness or their generosity, their straightforwardness or their double dealing Fate watches and smiles or cries.A strong 4 stars 3 15 13Rating changed to 5 stars after wonderful group discussion with Classics section of Constant Reader This made me realize just how much I enjoyed this book and how well it is written. When Thomas stopped writing novels in the early 1900s, he concentrated his bitterness on spectacularly peevish poetry, dripping withmelancholy self loathing than mid 90s Morrissey albums has anyone actually heard Maladjusted or Southpaw Grammar the whole way through These poems captivated my downbeat imagination as a teenager but the novels remained out of reach I wanted heartbreak to go, I wasn t looking to eat in the restaurant of shattered dreams Now, I find myself pulled towards the Great Grump s masterworks Starting with this terrific novel that reads like a transcript of my first two goes on The Sims I lost my father, killed my mother, made a series of kitchen fire hotchpotches and ended up killing all my close friends and children, then killed myself The details are different in The Mayor of Casterbridge only slightly , but if ever a writer was Sim like, it s Hardy He is like an existential bingo caller with a grudge Mayor noforty four Poisoned by hate eight eight No women survive twenty five This Oxford World Classics edition stifled me with its academia and I confess I skipped the intro Usually I like the setup and context intros give me but here, I wanted in to the action Since this review is stressfully scattershot, I might as well conclude with this track from Nick Cave sums up the fate of the poor Mayor perfectly, as well as being amazing in its own right When I First Came to Town Happiness was but the occasional episode in a general drama of pain Life is an oasis which is submerged in the swirling waves of sorrows and agoniesNever have I found a couple of lines in a novel that so perfectly sum up the writer s oeuvre for me To those, I d add, Gloom, despair and agony on me from an old TV song.This was my first Hardy novel, reading it last July In the six plus months since, I ve made myself a Hardy punching bag Tess of the D Urbervilles, Return of the Native, and Far from the Madding Crowd I may need Treatment This Hardy tragic novel, published in 1886, was set in the first half of the 19th Century Still, the set up is far fetched compared to the other three Here we have a drunken Michael Henchard who sells his wife and baby girl Eliza Jane to a sailor You think that s bad If anyone can transform bad into worse, blue into black, it s Hardy After recovering from his hangover, Henchard repents and desperately searches for his family to no avail He gives up booze cold turkey, becomes a successful merchant farmer and is elected Mayor of Casterbridge The former Mrs Henchard returns with daughter Eliza Jane years later when the girl is 18 The story takes S curves and turnabouts until Henchard s pride gets the best of him, he returns to booze and he s ruined emotionally and publicly I d say this story has a few morals 1 Drink in moderation.2 No matter how bad things get, never sell your wife or children.3 Pride goeth before destruction and an haughty spirit before a fall Proverbs 16 18, Bible, KJV Michael Henchard an itinerant, young, annoyed farm worker, walking with quiet wife Susan, infant daughter Elizabeth Jane, looking for employment, the time, the early 1830 s, in southern England, after an exhausting journey they reach a country fair, in a small village, enter a crowded tent, with dubious humans, serving alcohol, he imbibes vigorously, a weakness that will cause much trouble, and haunt him the rest of his life soon inebriated, the highly distressed man, in a stupor, sells Susan to an unknown sailor named Newson, what began as a joke reaches an unforeseen conclusion In the morning sober, and very ashamed, he seeks his wife and daughter everywhere, but they have left the area and the nationAlmost twenty years later, a drastic change, this Mr.Henchard is now the influential Mayor of Casterbridge Dorchester , a successful businessman in the corn and hay trade, only a few miles from his crime, a secret that still causes him much pain and suffering, he has vowed and kept this oath, not to partake any intoxicating beverages for 21 years, his age during the scandalous incident Recently hiring the bright, young, reluctant, affable Mr Donald Farfrae, from Scotland, with a vague dream of going to America, to pursue his fortune there, but after a protracted , difficult negotiation, on the road out of town, Henchard, persuades Farfrae to stay, he runs the business better than the owner Michael has it all, a beautiful , girlfriend, Lucetta Templeman, too, from an impoverished family, on the island of Jersey, he has compromised, but promises will wed, the eager woman, she helped him back to health when the mayor, became dangerously ill there, nurses fall in love with their needy patients regularly Yet life has frequent complications, the smooth voyage of his career hits a reef, his long suspected dead wife Susan returns, she also hides a deep secret, bringing his daughter Elizabeth Jane, toowhat to do The respected mayor of Casterbridge, a widower he says, will quietly marry his wife again, for appearance sake the townsmen are flabbergasted, a poor, sickly, uneducated woman, with a grown daughter, a stranger, Mr.Henchard, could have any single woman, from a good family, in the city, later Mr Farfrae and shy Miss Elizabeth Jane, start to look at each other, both with kind eyes A major novel from the always interesting writer, Thomas Hardy, dark waters may flow through these pages , but they will take you back to a place that will engross, and this is the ultimate goal of any book. ^Read Pdf ⇠ The Mayor of Casterbridge ⇱ I Ve Not Always Been What I Am Now 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 TownThis Edition Includes An Introduction, Chronology Of Hardy S Life And Works, The Illustrations For The Original Serial Issue, Place Names, Maps, Glossary, Full Explanatory Notes As Well As Hardy S Prefaces To TheAndEditions