The Mayor of Casterbridge is a man haunted by his past. In his youth he betrayed his wife and baby daughter in a shocking incident that led him to swear never to touch alcohol again for twenty-one years. He has since risen from his humble origins to become a respected pillar of the community in Casterbridge, but his secrets cannot stay hidden forever.
Thomas Hardy's almost supernatural insight into the course of wayward lives, his instinctive feeling for the beauty of the rural landscape, and his power to invest that landscape with moral significance all came together in an utterly fluent way in The Mayor of Casterbridge.
A classically shaped story about the rise and fall of the brooding and sometimes brutal Michael Henchard in the harsh world of nineteenth-century rural England, The Mayor of Casterbridge is an emblematic product of Hardy's maturity-vigorous, forceful, and unclouded by illusions.
(Book Jacket Status: Jacketed)
About the Author
Thomas Hardy, whose writing immortalized the Wessex countryside and dramatized his sense of the inevitable tragedy of life, was born at Upper Bockhampton, near Stinsford in Dorset in 1840, the eldest child of a prosperous stonemason. As a youth he trained as an architect and in 1862 obtained a post in London. During his time he began seriously to write poetry, which remained his first literary love and his last. In 1867-68, his first novel was refused publication, butUnder the Greenwood Tree (1872), his first Wessex novel, did well enough to convince him to continue writing. In 1874, Far from the Madding Crowd, published serially and anonymously in the Cornhill Magazine, became a great success. Hardy married Emma Gifford in 1878, and in 1885 they settled at Max Gate in Dorchester, where he lived the rest of his life. There he had wrote The Return of the Native (1878), The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886), Tess of the d'Urbervilles (1891), and Jude the Obscure (1895). With Tess, Hardy clashed with the expectations of his audience; a storm of abuse broke over the "infidelity" and "obscenity" of this great novel he had subtitled "A Pure Woman Faithfully Presented." Jude the Obscure aroused even greater indignation and was denounced as pornography. Hardy's disgust at the reaction to Jude led him to announce in 1869 that he would never write fiction ever again. He published Wessex Poems in 1898, Poems of the Past and Present in 1901, and from 1903 to 1908, The Dynast, a huge drama in which Hardy's conception of the Immanent Will, implicit in the tragic novels, is most clearly stated. In 1912 Hardy's wife, Emma died. The marriage was childless and had been a troubled one, but in the years after her death, Hardy memorialized her in several poems. At seventy-four he married his longtime secretary, Florence Dugdale, herself a writer of children's books and articles, with whom he live happily until his death in 1928. His heart was buried in the Wessex Countryside; his ashes were placed next to Charles Dickens's in the Poet's Corner of Westminster Abbey.
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