Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy (Old Paperback)
The Mayor of Casterbridge displays the influence of Hardy's upbringing, rural background, and architectural studies. His characters are primitive and exhibit all the passions, hates, loves and jealousies that rustic life seems to inspire. Yet these characters are at all times real because they are based on people he had grown up with, people he had heart about in legends and ballads, people whose tragic histories he had unearthed during his early architectural apprenticeship. In this novel Hardy dramatizes human condition as a struggle between man and man, and between man and his fate. Usually it is fate that wins. Yet the victim of fate, Henchard, is also the greatest offender against morality, which would indicate purpose in the suffering he endures. The novel ends on a note of hope because of Henchard's strength of will and his determination to undergo suffering and deprivation in order to expiate his sins.
About the Author
Thomas Hardy (1840-1928), poet and novelist, was born in Higher Bockhampton, near Dorchester in Dorset. He was the son of Thomas Hardy, a builder and master mason, and his wife Jemima. At the age of sixteen he was apprenticed to a local architect, John Hicks. In 1862 he went to London to pursue his architectural career and also began writing at this time. He returned to Dorset in 1867 to become assistant to John Hicks. In 1874 he gave up architecture for writing and married his first wife Emma Gifford. In the same year Far From the Madding Crowd was published and met with considerable success. In 1878 Hardy moved back to London. His reputation as writer grew and he became a well-known figure in London’s literary circles. In 1885 he returned to Dorset and over the next three years he published The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886), which many regard as his greatest tragic novel, The Woodlanders (1887) and his first collection of short stories, Wessex Tales (1888). He published Tess of the D’Urbervilles in 1891 and Jude the Obscure in 1895. Hardy greatly enjoyed the admiration of London’s literary and aristocratic society, but resented the constant carping of reviewers of his “pessimism” and “immorality”. The hostile criticism of his last two major novels led him to abondon fiction and devote himself to poetry which was always his first love. He published eight volumes of poetry during 1898 to 1928. Emma died in 1912 and Hardy married Florence Dugdale in 1914.