The Mayor of Casterbridge, Hardback
3.5 out of 5 (2 ratings)


Drunk and bitter at the world, the young Michael Henchard sells his wife to a sailor at Weydon Priors fair.

The next morning he vows to give up drink and mend his terrible ways.

Twenty years later he is mayor of Casterbridge, a rich and important figure who little suspects the past is about to rear up and attack him.

The Mayor of Casterbridge is a masterpiece of Victorian literature, bringing the classical forms of tragedy into the modern world with striking force, showing a proud and noble man overwhelmed by his past and the forces of fate.With an Afterword by Peter Harness.


  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 426 pages
  • Publisher: Pan Macmillan
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Classic fiction (pre c 1945)
  • ISBN: 9781904633112



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Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.

Review by

Hardy is one of my favorite authors, and perhaps I read the Mayor of Casterbridge (i.e., too slowly, over too many evenings), but I felt that the conclusion arrived with abruptness and, additionally, there was hardly a denouement. As many of Hardy's novels are, this is the tale of a man made intractably despondent by his own tragic faults -- but Hardy hardly gives him his due as he renders an account of the main character's demise.The book, of course, is stunningly poignant. A moving vignette is the brief interlude when Henchard prepares breakfast for Elizabeth-Jane. As she gives herself a small dose of self-reproach for sleeping idly while he is caring for her sustenance he states, "I do it should I live if not by my own hands." And in that one statement Hardy and Henchard sum up the lonely existence of every being.

Review by

One of the few Hardy novels I had not read. Certainly you see how Hardy was developing the skill that led him to produce Tess of the d'Ubervilles and Jude the Obscure. Fascinating how the themes of the open country of the moors counterpoint the microcosm of urban life in this novel, mirroring inner human nature and social convention. It's this use of geography that has, for me, been a hallmark of Hardy's work, and certainly a major influence upon my own writing.Once again I was impressed by Hardy's modern approach to writing, employing deep character development and dark, socially unacceptable themes for the period. In this case the narrative explores an alcoholic's cruel treatment of his wife and daughter, his attempt to redeem himself only to find himself incapable of rising above his baser nature. It is a mark of Hardy's writing skill that the reader both loves and despises the character of Henchard, so that in the end Hardy presents a pitiable wretch for whom we are capable of weeping.As a side note, the film adaptation of The Mayor of Casterbridge with Ciaran Hines as main character, Michael Henchard, is a faithful reproduction of the novel, beautifully produced, impeccable costuming, and well worth seeing.