The Mayor of Casterbridge [NOOK Book]

Overview

In Thomas Hardy's classic novel, an ambitious man discovers that the blind energies and defiant acts that brought him to power can also destroy him.

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The Mayor of Casterbridge

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Overview

In Thomas Hardy's classic novel, an ambitious man discovers that the blind energies and defiant acts that brought him to power can also destroy him.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Hardy’s world is a world that can never disappear.” —Margaret Drabble
John Sutherland University of London
"Of all the great Victorian novelists, Hardy is the one who consistently requires most annotation and careful contextual placing. The density of regional reference, the often complex composition, publication and reception histories, the author's vexed relationship with his age—all call for tactful but learned editing. The noted Victorian scholar Norman Page supplies this admirably for Broadview Press's Mayor of Casterbridge. This is the edition I shall use and prescribe in the future."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780486113944
  • Publisher: Dover Publications
  • Publication date: 2/6/2012
  • Series: Dover Thrift Editions
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 256
  • File size: 839 KB

Meet the Author

Thomas Hardy

Thomas Hardy was born in 1840 near Dorchester, the son of a builder. His education was rural and ordinary for the time, teaching him a mixture of folklore, the realities of rural life, English literature and church music which was to be reflected in his novels. Apprenticeship and office work in architecture from 1856 to 1867 took him to with London, and also saw him submitting poetry for magazine publication, but without success. He returned to Dorchester and started writing novels, the first published being Desperate Remedies in 1871. Far From the Madding Crowd, in 1874, was a runaway success and made him economically secure. While moving around England and the Continent and ultimately settling back in the West Countryin the years that followed, Hardy wrote a string of major novels and short-story collections. The reception of Jude the Obscure (1895), however, led him to give up novels and return to poetry, which he wrote prolifically and eclectically, from lyrics to the three-part epic drama The Dynasts, from 1898 until his death, having gradually become a literary establishment figure, in 1928.

Biography

Thomas Hardy was born on June 2, 1840, in the village of Higher Bockhampton, near Dorchester, a market town in the county of Dorset. Hardy would spend much of his life in his native region, transforming its rural landscapes into his fictional Wesses. Hardy's mother, Jemima, inspired him with a taste for literature, while his stonemason father, Thomas, shared with him a love of architecture and music (the two would later play the fiddle at local dances). As a boy Hardy read widely in the popular fiction of the day, including the novels of Scott, Dumas, Dickens, W. Harrison Ainsworth, and G.P.R. James, and in the poetry of Scott, Wordsworth, Byron, Shelley, Keats, and others. Strongly influenced in his youth by the Bible and the liturgy of the Anglican Church, Hardy later contemplated a career in the ministry; but his assimilation of the new theories of Darwinian evolutionism eventually made him an agnostic and a severe critic of the limitations of traditional religion.

Although Hardy was a gifted student at the local schools he attended as a boy for eight years, his lower-class social origins limited his further educational opportunities. At sixteen, he was apprenticed to architect James Hicks in Dorchester and began an architectural career primarily focused on the restoration of churches. In Dorchester Hardy was also befriended by Horace Moule, eight years Hardy's senior, who acted as an intellectual mentor and literary adviser throughout his youth and early adulthood. From 1862 to 1867 hardy worked in London for the distinguished architect Arthur Blomfeld, but he continued to study -- literature, art, philosophy, science, history, the classics -- and to write, first poetry and then fiction.

In the early 1870s Hardy's first two published novels, Desperate Remedies and Under the Greenwood Tree, appeared to little acclaim or sales. With his third novel, A Pair of Blue Eyes, he began the practice of serializing his fiction in magazines prior to book publication, a method that he would utilize throughout his career as a novelist. In 1874, the year of his marriage to Emma Gifford of St. Juliot, Cornwall, Hardy enjoyed his first significant commercial and critical success with the book publication of Far from the Madding Crowd after its serialization in the Cornhill Magazine. Hardy and his wife lived in several locations in London, Dorset, and Somerset before settling in South London for three years in 1878. During the late 1870s and early 1880s, Hardy published The Return of the Native, The Trumpet-Major, A Laodicean, and Two on a Tower while consolidating his pace as a leading contemporary English novelist. He would also eventually produce four volumes of short stories: Wessex Tales, A Group of Noble Dames, Life's Little Ironies, and A Changed Man.

In 1883, Hardy and his wife moved back to Dorchester, where Hardy wrote The Mayor of Casterbridge, set in a fictionalized version of Dorchester, and went on to design and construct a permanent home for himself, named Max Gate, completed in 1885. In the later 1880s and early 1890s Hardy wrote three of his greatest novels, The Woodlanders, Tess of the d'Urbevilles, and Jude the Obscure, all of them notable for their remarkable tragic power. The latter two were initially published as magazine serials in which Hardy removed potentially objectionable moral and religious content, only to restore it when the novels were published in book form; both novels nevertheless aroused public controversy for their criticisms of Victorian sexual and religious mores. In particular, the appearance of Jude the Obscure in 1895 precipitated harsh attacks on Hardy's alleged pessimism and immorality; the attacks contributed to his decision to abandon the writing of fiction after the appearance of his last-published novel, The Well-Beloved.

In the later 1890s Hardy returned to the writing of poetry that he had abandoned for fiction thirty years earlier. Wessex Poems appeared in 1898, followed by several volumes of poetry at regular intervals over the next three decades. Between 1904 and 1908 Hardy published a three-part epic verse drama, The Dynasts, based on the Napoleonic Wars of the early nineteenth century. Following the death of his first wife in 1912, Hardy married his literary secretary Florence Dugdale in 1914. Hardy received a variety of public honors in the last two decades of his life and continued to publish poems until his death at Max Gate on January 11, 1928. His ashes were interred in the Poets' Corner of Westminster Abbey in London and his heart in Stinsford outside Dorchester. Regarded as one of England's greatest authors of both fiction and poetry, Hardy has inspired such notable twentieth-century writers as Marcel Proust, John Cowper Powys, D. H. Lawrence, Theodore Dreiser, and John Fowles.

Author biography from the Barnes & Noble Classics edition of Far from the Madding Crowd.

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    1. Date of Birth:
      June 2, 1840
    2. Place of Birth:
      Higher Brockhampon, Dorset, England
    1. Date of Death:
      January 11, 1928
    2. Place of Death:
      Max Gate, Dorchester, England
    1. Education:
      Served as apprentice to architect James Hicks

Read an Excerpt

I

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,1 in Upper Wessex, on foot. They were plainly but not ill clad, though the thick hoar of dust which had accumulated on their shoes and garments from an obviously long journey lent a disadvantageous shabbiness to their appearance just now.

The man was of fine figure, swarthy, and stern in aspect; and he showed in profile a facial angle so slightly inclined as to be almost perpendicular. He wore a short jacket of brown corduroy, newer than the remainder of his suit, which was a fustian2 waistcoat with white horn buttons, breeches of the same, tanned leggings, and a straw hat overlaid with black glazed canvas. At his back he carried by a looped strap a rush basket, from which protruded at one end the crutch of a hay-knife, a wimble for hay-bonds3 being also visible in the aperture. His measured, springless walk was the walk of the skilled countryman as distinct from the desultory shamble of the general labourer; while in the turn and plant of each foot there was, further, a dogged and cynical indifference personal to himself, showing its presence even in the regularly interchanging fustian folds, now in the left leg, now in the right, as he paced along.

What was really peculiar, however, in this couple’s progress, and would have attracted the attention of any casual observer otherwise disposed to overlook them, was the perfect silence they preserved. They walked side by side in such a way as to suggest afar off the low, easy, confidential chat of people full ofreciprocity; but on closer view it could be discerned that the man was reading, or pretending to read, a ballad sheet4 which he kept before his eyes with some difficulty by the hand that was passed through the basket strap. Whether this apparent cause were the real cause, or whether it were an assumed one to escape an intercourse that would have been irksome to him, nobody but himself could have said precisely; but his taciturnity was unbroken, and the woman enjoyed no society whatever from his presence. Virtually she walked the highway alone, save for the child she bore. Sometimes the man’s bent elbow almost touched her shoulder, for she kept as close to his side as was possible without actual contact; but she seemed to have no idea of taking his arm, nor he of offering it; and far from exhibiting surprise at his ignoring silence she appeared to receive it as a natural thing. If any word at all were uttered by the little group, it was an occasional whisper of the woman to the child—a tiny girl in short clothes and blue boots of knitted yarn—and the murmured babble of the child in reply.

The chief—almost the only—attraction of the young woman’s face was its mobility. When she looked down sideways to the girl she became pretty, and even handsome, particularly that in the action her features caught slantwise the rays of the strongly coloured sun, which made transparencies of her eyelids and nostrils and set fire on her lips. When she plodded on in the shade of the hedge, silently thinking, she had the hard, half-apathetic expression of one who deems anything possible at the hands of Time and Chance except, perhaps, fair play. The first phase was the work of Nature, the second probably of civilization.

That the man and woman were husband and wife, and the parents of the girl in arms, there could be little doubt. No other than such relationship would have accounted for the atmosphere of stale familiarity which the trio carried along with them like a nimbus as they moved down the road.

The wife mostly kept her eyes fixed ahead, though with little interest—the scene for that matter being one that might have been matched at almost any spot in any county in England at this time of the year; a road neither straight nor crooked, neither level nor hilly, bordered by hedges, trees, and other vegetation, which had entered the blackened-green stage of colour that the doomed leaves pass through on their way to dingy, and yellow, and red. The grassy margin of the bank, and the nearest hedgerow boughs, were powdered by the dust that had been stirred over them by hasty vehicles, the same dust as it lay on the road deadening their footfalls like a carpet; and this, with the aforesaid total absence of conversation, allowed every extraneous sound to be heard.

For a long time there was none, beyond the voice of a weak bird singing a trite old evening song that might doubtless have been heard on the hill at the same hour, and with the self-same trills, quavers, and breves, at any sunset of that season for centuries untold. But as they approached the village sundry distant shouts and rattles reached their ears from some elevated spot in that direction, as yet screened from view by foliage. When the outlying houses of Weydon-Priors could just be descried, the family group was met by a turnip-hoer with his hoe on his shoulder, and his dinner-bag suspended from it. The reader promptly glanced up.

“Any trade doing here?” he asked phlegmatically, designating the village in his van by a wave of the broadsheet. And thinking the labourer did not understand him, he added, “Anything in the hay-trussing5 line?”

The turnip-hoer had already begun shaking his head. “Why, save the man, what wisdom’s in him that ’a should come to Weydon for a job of that sort this time o’ year?”

“Then is there any house to let—a little small new cottage just a builded, or such like?” asked the other.

The pessimist still maintained a negative. “Pulling down is more the nater of Weydon. There were five houses cleared away last year, and three this; and the volk nowhere to go—no, not so much as a thatched hurdle6 that’s the way o’ Weydon-Priors.”

The hay-trusser, which he obviously was, nodded with some superciliousness. Looking towards the village, he continued, “There is something going on here, however, is there not?”

“Ay. ’Tis Fair Day. Though what you hear now is little more than the clatter and scurry of getting away the money o’ children and fools, for the real business is done earlier than this. I’ve been working within sound o’t all day, but I didn’t go up—not I. ’Twas no business of mine.” The trusser and his family proceeded on their way, and soon entered the Fair-field, which showed standing-places and pens where many hundreds of horses and sheep had been exhibited and sold in the forenoon, but were now in great part taken away. At present, as their informant had observed, but little real business remained on hand, the chief being the sale by auction of a few inferior animals, that could not otherwise be disposed of, and had been absolutely refused by the better class of traders, who came and went early. Yet the crowd was denser now than during the morning hours, the frivolous contingent of visitors, including journeymen7 out for a holiday, a stray soldier or two come on furlough, village shopkeepers, and the like, having latterly flocked in; persons whose activities found a congenial field among the peep-shows, toy-stands, waxworks, inspired monsters, disinterested medical men who travelled for the public good, thimble-riggers,8 nick-nack vendors, and readers of Fate.

Neither of our pedestrians had much heart for these things, and they looked around for a refreshment tent among the many which dotted the down. Two, which stood nearest to them in the ochreous haze of expiring sunlight, seemed almost equally inviting. One was formed of new, milk-hued canvas, and bore red flags on its summit; it announced “Good Home-brewed Beer, Ale, and Cyder.” The other was less new; a little iron stove-pipe came out of it at the back, and in front appeared the placard, “Good Furmity9 Sold Hear.” The man mentally weighed the two inscriptions, and inclined to the former tent.

“No—no—the other one,” said the woman. “I always like furmity; and so does Elizabeth-Jane; and so will you. It is nourishing after a long hard day.”

“I’ve never tasted it,” said the man. However, he gave way to her representations, and they entered the furmity booth forthwith.

A rather numerous company appeared within, seated at the long narrow tables that ran down the tent on each side. At the upper end stood a stove, containing a charcoal fire, over which hung a large three-legged crock, sufficiently polished round the rim to show that it was made of bell-metal.10 A haggish creature of about fifty presided, in a white apron, which, as it threw an air of respectability over her as far as it extended, was made so wide as to reach nearly round her waist. She slowly stirred the contents of the pot. The dull scrape of her large spoon was audible throughout the tent as she thus kept from burning the mixture of corn in the grain, flour, milk, raisins, currants, and what not, that composed the antiquated slop in which she dealt. Vessels holding the separate ingredients stood on a white-clothed table of boards and trestles close by.

The young man and woman ordered a basin each of the mixture, steaming hot, and sat down to consume it at leisure. This was very well so far, for furmity, as the woman had said, was nourishing, and as proper a food as could be obtained within the four seas; though, to those not accustomed to it, the grains of wheat swollen as large as lemon-pips, which floated on its surface, might have a deterrent effect at first.

But there was more in that tent than met the cursory glance; and the man, with the instinct of a perverse character, scented it quickly. After a mincing attack on his bowl, he watched the hag’s proceedings from the corner of his eye, and saw the game she played. He winked to her, and passed up his basin in reply to her nod; when she took a bottle from under the table, slily measured out a quantity of its contents, and tipped the same into the man’s furmity. The liquor poured in was rum. The man as slily sent back money in payment.

He found the concoction, thus strongly laced, much more to his satisfaction than it had been in its natural state. His wife had observed the proceeding with much uneasiness; but he persuaded her to have hers laced also, and she agreed to a milder allowance after some misgiving.

The man finished his basin, and called for another, the rum being signalled for in yet stronger proportion. The effect of it was soon apparent in his manner, and his wife but too sadly perceived that in strenuously steering off the rocks of the licensed liquor-tent she had only got into maelstrom depths here amongst the smugglers.

The child began to prattle impatiently, and the wife more than once said to her husband, “Michael, how about our lodging? You know we may have trouble in getting it if we don’t go soon.”

But he turned a deaf ear to those bird-like chirpings. He talked loud to the company. The child’s black eyes, after slow, round, ruminating gazes at the candles when they were lighted, fell together; then they opened, then shut again, and she slept.

At the end of the first basin the man had risen to serenity; at the second he was jovial; at the third, argumentative; at the fourth, the qualities signified by the shape of his face, the occasional clench of his mouth, and the fiery spark of his dark eye, began to tell in his conduct; he was overbearing—even brilliantly quarrelsome.

The conversation took a high turn, as it often does on such occasions. The ruin of good men by bad wives, and, more particularly, the frustration of many a promising youth’s high aims and hopes and the extinction of his energies by an early imprudent marriage, was the theme.

“I did for myself that way thoroughly,” said the trusser, with a contemplative bitterness that was well-nigh resentful. “I married at eighteen, like the fool that I was; and this is the consequence o’t.” He pointed at himself and family with a wave of the hand intended to bring out the penuriousness of the exhibition.

The young woman his wife, who seemed accustomed to such remarks, acted as if she did not hear them, and continued her intermittent private words on tender trifles to the sleeping and waking child, who was just big enough to be placed for a moment on the bench beside her when she wished to ease her arms. The man continued—

“I haven’t more than fifteen shillings in the world, and yet I am a good experienced hand in my line. I’d challenge England to beat me in the fodder business; and if I were a free man again I’d be worth a thousand pound before I’d done o’t. But a fellow never knows these little things till all chance of acting upon ’em is past.”


From the Paperback edition.

Copyright 2002 by Thomas Hardy
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements
General Editors' Preface
Introduction 1
1 The Mayor of Casterbridge, the Persistence of the Past, and the Dance of Desire 21
2 The Mayor of Casterbridge 31
3 Fictitious Families 40
4 The Mayor of Casterbridge: The Fate of Michael Henchard's Character 48
5 The Mayor of Casterbridge: The Bounds of Propriety 80
6 The Minimisation of Sexuality 116
7 The Mayor of Casterbridge: Made of Money 132
8 Haunting Casterbridge or, 'the persistence of the unforeseen' 153
9 Agon in the Marketplace: The Mayor of Casterbridge as Bourgeois Tragedy 170
Further Reading 202
Notes on Contributors 207
Index 209
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 14 of 13 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 21, 2006

    Surprisingly Good

    I choose to read this book for an English project and was grateful I did. The author has your attention from the first 5 pages when the main character gets drunk and sells his wife at a fair.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 29, 2004

    The Greatest Tragic Novelist

    Thomas Hardy completely came out of nowhere and shocked me with this novel. It had been on my shelf for about half a year and this summer I read it. It only took about 4 days, and it was absolutely breathtaking. The contrast between the major characters, and the descriptions of the panoramic views were the perfect 1, 2 combo.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2004

    Not Bad!

    I was required to read this novel for Literature. It is does at some points become boring, and the ending is anti-climatic but the plot twists are entertaining. The premise is even intriguing that a guy sells his wife over a drunken bet!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2003

    Adeptation movie entitled "The Claim"

    As soon as I saw the movie was an adeptation of Thomas Hardy's book "The Mayor of Casterbridge" I put a tape in my VCR and watched it and taped it at the same time because after having read so many of Thomas Hardy's books I knew it would be great. I've watched it again and again and invited my daughter to watch it. He was an exceptional writer for that period and I enjoy his books and I wish that they would do more of his work. I may have seen "Tess" a few years ago. I wish it would come out again. Maybe "The Movie Channel" will do it if its doable. Great movie and great books! "The Claim"

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2014

    You should read it!

    This was such a great book. And he is such a great writer. I really like the description. I loved it. It is wonderfully done.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2011

    Bad Scan

    Bad Scan

    Like so many of the free books available for the Nook, this book is very poorly scanned. Pagination and printing is off. I love Thomas Hardy ¿ but this is not the way to read him.

    It is not worth the trouble, and I am deleting it.

    I guess you really do get what you pay for¿

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2011

    Poor transcription

    with many typo's and odd characters randomly appearing within text. You get what you pay for. I'm going to delete this version and pay for one I hope has been typed more carefully.

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    Posted April 14, 2010

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    Posted September 1, 2012

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    Posted October 25, 2008

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    Posted October 21, 2009

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    Posted October 31, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 15, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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