The Mayor Of Casterbridge – Thomas Hardy
In the setting of this story we recognize much of our author’s old power. The quiet rural town is set as distinctly before us as Cranford is. But the people to whom Mr. Hardy introduces us upon its streets are not the people Mrs. Gaskell makes us know and love. There is to our mind not a really attractive character in the whole book. The good ones have a tendency to become commonplace, the bad ones can hardly be said to be interesting. It is true that Michael Henchard, the self-made hero, is a remarkable character study from the point of view of a psychologist or a sociologist, but that does not make him a proper hero for a novel, and we are forced to conclude that even the genius of Mr. Hardy cannot long sustain its eagle flight when, to borrow a metaphor from Shelley, its wings are cramped by the constraining folds of the serpent of pessimism.
The Mayor Of Casterbridge.
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Biography of Thomas Hardy (from Wikipedia):
Thomas Hardy, OM (2 June 1840 – 11 January 1928) was an English novelist and poet. A Victorian realist in the tradition of George Eliot, he was influenced both in his novels and in his poetry by Romanticism, especially William Wordsworth. He was highly critical of much in Victorian society, especially on the declining status of rural people in Britain, such as those from his native South West England.
While Hardy wrote poetry throughout his life and regarded himself primarily as a poet, his first collection was not published until 1898. Initially, therefore, he gained fame as the author of such novels as Far from the Madding Crowd (1874), The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886), Tess of the d’Urbervilles (1891), and Jude the Obscure (1895). During his lifetime, Hardy’s poetry was acclaimed by younger poets (particularly the Georgians) who viewed him as a mentor. After his death his poems were lauded by Ezra Pound, W. H. Auden and Philip Larkin.
Many of his novels concern tragic characters struggling against their passions and social circumstances, and they are often set in the semi-fictional region of Wessex; initially based on the medieval Anglo-Saxon kingdom, Hardy’s Wessex eventually came to include the counties of Dorset, Wiltshire, Somerset, Devon, Hampshire and much of Berkshire, in southwest and south central England. Two of his novels, Tess of the d’Urbervilles and Far from the Madding Crowd, were listed in the top 50 on the BBC’s survey The Big Read.
(The text of the last section was taken from a Wikipedia entry and is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.)
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