zaterdag 18 februari 2017

"The Mayor of Casterbridge" by Thomas Hardy

“Life is an oasis which is submerged in the swirling waves of sorrows and agonies.”
Young Michael Henchard, a poor hay-trusser, arrives at a country fair with his wife Susan and baby daughter Elisabeth-Jane. In a drunken stupor, he sells his wife and daughter to a sailor, Mr Newson, who takes both to Canada. Some twenty years later, after the drowning of Newson, Susan and her daughter arrive in the town of Casterbridge. There, they find Henchard, who has risen on the social ladder and has become mayor of the town. Henchard, still feeling guilty about what he did all those years ago, vows to make amends and remarries Susan. But his past will come back to haunt him, again and again. As he refuses to learn from the mistakes of the past, Henchard's downfall is inevitable.

"The Mayor of Casterbridge" may not be quite as powerful as Hardy's "Tess of the d'Urbervilles" but it's still a classic which deserves to be read. It has a strong plot (although a bit too reliant on coincidences - not unusual for the author) and I really like the symbolism Hardy uses. The characters -the titular character in particular- are complex and interesting. Hardy's prose is beautiful and not too difficult, but you'll have to be able to stomach quite a bit of pessimism. I happen to like a fair share of gloom in my literature, so Hardy is definitely among my favourite 19th century authors. "The Mayor of Casterbridge" didn't disappoint.

Author: Thomas Hardy
Title: The Mayor of Casterbridge
Publisher: OUP, Oxford
Year: 2008 (orig. 1886)
Number of pages: lxi + 364 p.
ISBN: 9780199537037

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