silverflight8 (silverflight8) wrote in bookish,

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The Mayor of Casterbridge: Thomas Hardy

19th century classic, by Thomas Hardy. 335 pages.

I was warned by an English teacher that Hardy is a very...fatalistic writer. In consequence, I spent the entire book ready for sudden twists and downfalls. This is very much a book about character.

The main protagonist is a plain hay-trusser at the beginning of the book. Hardly a dozen pages in, and (spoiler) he sells his wife after drinking. Fuddled and only slightly guilty the next day, he swears that he will not touch "strong liquors" for twenty-one years--that being how long he's lived.

I found myself hating, then liking, then hating, then feeling a  little sympathetic towards the protagonist, Michael Henchard. Sometimes, you can tell that he's got some very noble intentions, but he's belligerent, blustery and completely ham-handed when it comes to delicate things like feelings. The other protagonist, Elizabeth-Jane, is insipid but creates a contrast to Henchard. All of the characters are well fleshed out, especially Henchard and Farfrae.

It was the writing that made me love this book, though. Hardy is a writer from earlier times (ha! euphemisms!). I love the fact that he can string together a long line of subordinate clauses and make 'em all sound like they fit, and not lose the reader in the process--in other writers' works, I often have to look back at the beginning of the sentence to make sure I know what's going on.

As stated in the (slightly confusing) introduction, which I read as the "afterword", this is partially a book about alcoholism. The language is more difficult (I have never seen the word "superadded") but definitely recommended to anyone who likes a good read. 10/10
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