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The Mayor of Casterbridge [Anglais] [Broché]

Thomas Hardy
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Description de l'ouvrage

27 mars 2003 Literature. penguin classics
A haunting study of guilt and lost love in Penguin Classics, Thomas Hardy's The Mayor of Casterbridge is edited with an introduction and notes by Keith Wilson. In a fit of drunken anger, Michael Henchard sells his wife and baby daughter for five guineas at a country fair. Over the course of the following years, he manages to establish himself as a respected and prosperous pillar of the community of Casterbridge, but behind his success there always lurk the shameful secret of his past and a personality prone to self-destructive pride and temper. Subtitled 'A Story of a Man of Character', Hardy's powerful and sympathetic study of the heroic but deeply flawed Henchard is also an intensely dramatic work, tragically played out against the vivid backdrop of a close-knit Dorsetshire town. This edition includes an introduction, chronology of Hardy's life and works, the illustrations for the original serial issue, place names, maps, glossary, full explanatory notes as well as Hardy's prefaces to the 1895 and 1912 editions. Thomas Hardy (1840-1928), born Higher Brockhampton, near Dorchester, originally trained as an architect before earning his living as a writer. Though he saw himself primarily as a poet, Hardy was the author of some of the late eighteenth century's major novels: The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886), Tess of the D'Urbervilles (1891), Far from the Madding Crowd (1874), and Jude the Obscure (1895). Amidst the controversy caused by Jude the Obscure, he turned to the poetry he had been writing all his life. In the next thirty years he published over nine hundred poems and his epic drama in verse, The Dynasts. If you enjoyed The Mayor of Casterbridge, you might like George Eliot's Silas Marner, also available in Penguin Classics. 'The greatest tragic writer among the English novelists'Virginia Woolf 'Visceral, passionate, anti-hypocrisy, anti-repression ... Hardy reaches into our wildest recesses'Evening Standard

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Extrait

I

One evening of late summer, before the nineteenth century had reached one-third of its span, a young man and woman, the latter carrying a child, were approaching the large village of Weydon-Priors, in Upper Wessex, on foot. They were plainly but not ill clad, though the thick hoar of dust which had accumulated on their shoes and garments from an obviously long journey lent a disadvantageous shabbiness to their appearance just now.

The man was of fine figure, swarthy, and stern in aspect; and he showed in profile a facial angle so slightly inclined as to be almost perpendicular. He wore a short jacket of brown corduroy, newer than the remainder of his suit, which was a fustian waistcoat with white horn buttons, breeches of the same, tanned leggings, and a straw hat overlaid with black glazed canvas. At his back he carried by a looped strap a rush basket, from which protruded at one end the crutch of a hay-knife, a wimble for hay-bonds being also visible in the aperture. His measured, springless walk was the walk of the skilled countryman as distinct from the desultory shamble of the general labourer; while in the turn and plant of each foot there was, further, a dogged and cynical indifference personal to himself, showing its presence even in the regularly interchanging fustian folds, now in the left leg, now in the right, as he paced along.

What was really peculiar, however, in this couple’s progress, and would have attracted the attention of any casual observer otherwise disposed to overlook them, was the perfect silence they preserved. They walked side by side in such a way as to suggest afar off the low, easy, confidential chat of people full of reciprocity; but on closer view it could be discerned that the man was reading, or pretending to read, a ballad sheet which he kept before his eyes with some difficulty by the hand that was passed through the basket strap. Whether this apparent cause were the real cause, or whether it were an assumed one to escape an intercourse that would have been irksome to him, nobody but himself could have said precisely; but his taciturnity was unbroken, and the woman enjoyed no society whatever from his presence. Virtually she walked the highway alone, save for the child she bore. Sometimes the man’s bent elbow almost touched her shoulder, for she kept as close to his side as was possible without actual contact; but she seemed to have no idea of taking his arm, nor he of offering it; and far from exhibiting surprise at his ignoring silence she appeared to receive it as a natural thing. If any word at all were uttered by the little group, it was an occasional whisper of the woman to the child—a tiny girl in short clothes and blue boots of knitted yarn—and the murmured babble of the child in reply.

The chief—almost the only—attraction of the young woman’s face was its mobility. When she looked down sideways to the girl she became pretty, and even handsome, particularly that in the action her features caught slantwise the rays of the strongly coloured sun, which made transparencies of her eyelids and nostrils and set fire on her lips. When she plodded on in the shade of the hedge, silently thinking, she had the hard, half-apathetic expression of one who deems anything possible at the hands of Time and Chance except, perhaps, fair play. The first phase was the work of Nature, the second probably of civilization.

That the man and woman were husband and wife, and the parents of the girl in arms, there could be little doubt. No other than such relationship would have accounted for the atmosphere of stale familiarity which the trio carried along with them like a nimbus as they moved down the road.

The wife mostly kept her eyes fixed ahead, though with little interest—the scene for that matter being one that might have been matched at almost any spot in any county in England at this time of the year; a road neither straight nor crooked, neither level nor hilly, bordered by hedges, trees, and other vegetation, which had entered the blackened-green stage of colour that the doomed leaves pass through on their way to dingy, and yellow, and red. The grassy margin of the bank, and the nearest hedgerow boughs, were powdered by the dust that had been stirred over them by hasty vehicles, the same dust as it lay on the road deadening their footfalls like a carpet; and this, with the aforesaid total absence of conversation, allowed every extraneous sound to be heard.

For a long time there was none, beyond the voice of a weak bird singing a trite old evening song that might doubtless have been heard on the hill at the same hour, and with the self-same trills, quavers, and breves, at any sunset of that season for centuries untold. But as they approached the village sundry distant shouts and rattles reached their ears from some elevated spot in that direction, as yet screened from view by foliage. When the outlying houses of Weydon-Priors could just be descried, the family group was met by a turnip-hoer with his hoe on his shoulder, and his dinner-bag suspended from it. The reader promptly glanced up.

“Any trade doing here?” he asked phlegmatically, designating the village in his van by a wave of the broadsheet. And thinking the labourer did not understand him, he added, “Anything in the hay-trussing5 line?”

The turnip-hoer had already begun shaking his head. “Why, save the man, what wisdom’s in him that ’a should come to Weydon for a job of that sort this time o’ year?”

“Then is there any house to let—a little small new cottage just a builded, or such like?” asked the other.

The pessimist still maintained a negative. “Pulling down is more the nater of Weydon. There were five houses cleared away last year, and three this; and the volk nowhere to go—no, not so much as a thatched hurdle that’s the way o’ Weydon-Priors.”

The hay-trusser, which he obviously was, nodded with some superciliousness. Looking towards the village, he continued, “There is something going on here, however, is there not?”

“Ay. ’Tis Fair Day. Though what you hear now is little more than the clatter and scurry of getting away the money o’ children and fools, for the real business is done earlier than this. I’ve been working within sound o’t all day, but I didn’t go up—not I. ’Twas no business of mine.” The trusser and his family proceeded on their way, and soon entered the Fair-field, which showed standing-places and pens where many hundreds of horses and sheep had been exhibited and sold in the forenoon, but were now in great part taken away. At present, as their informant had observed, but little real business remained on hand, the chief being the sale by auction of a few inferior animals, that could not otherwise be disposed of, and had been absolutely refused by the better class of traders, who came and went early. Yet the crowd was denser now than during the morning hours, the frivolous contingent of visitors, including journeymen out for a holiday, a stray soldier or two come on furlough, village shopkeepers, and the like, having latterly flocked in; persons whose activities found a congenial field among the peep-shows, toy-stands, waxworks, inspired monsters, disinterested medical men who travelled for the public good, thimble-riggers,nick-nack vendors, and readers of Fate.

Neither of our pedestrians had much heart for these things, and they looked around for a refreshment tent among the many which dotted the down. Two, which stood nearest to them in the ochreous haze of expiring sunlight, seemed almost equally inviting. One was formed of new, milk-hued canvas, and bore red flags on its summit; it announced “Good Home-brewed Beer, Ale, and Cyder.” The other was less new; a little iron stove-pipe came out of it at the back, and in front appeared the placard, “Good Furmity Sold Hear.” The man mentally weighed the two inscriptions, and inclined to the former tent.

“No—no—the other one,” said the woman. “I always like furmity; and so does Elizabeth-Jane; and so will you. It is nourishing after a long hard day.”

“I’ve never tasted it,” said the man. However, he gave way to her representations, and they entered the furmity booth forthwith.

A rather numerous company appeared within, seated at the long narrow tables that ran down the tent on each side. At the upper end stood a stove, containing a charcoal fire, over which hung a large three-legged crock, sufficiently polished round the rim to show that it was made of bell-metal.A haggish creature of about fifty presided, in a white apron, which, as it threw an air of respectability over her as far as it extended, was made so wide as to reach nearly round her waist. She slowly stirred the contents of the pot. The dull scrape of her large spoon was audible throughout the tent as she thus kept from burning the mixture of corn in the grain, flour, milk, raisins, currants, and what not, that composed the antiquated slop in which she dealt. Vessels holding the separate ingredients stood on a white-clothed table of boards and trestles close by.

The young man and woman ordered a basin each of the mixture, steaming hot, and sat down to consume it at leisure. This was very well so far, for furmity, as the woman had said, was nourishing, and as proper a food as could be obtained within the four seas; though, to those not accustomed to it, the grains of wheat swollen as large as lemon-pips, which floated on its surface, might have a deterrent effect at first.

But there was more in that tent than met the cursory glance; and the man, with the instinct of a perverse character, scented it quickly. After a mincing attack on his bowl, he watched the hag’s proceedings from the corner of his eye, and saw the game she played. He winked to her, and passed up his basin in reply to her nod; when she took ... --Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Relié .

Revue de presse

The Mayor of Casterbridge is a novel about Henchard’s ‘struggle into love and the struggle with love’ . . . Hardy is clearly an expert in moods and maps out the terrain . . . like a writer who knows the emotional landscape intimately.” –from the Introduction by Craig Raine --Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Relié .

Détails sur le produit

  • Broché: 448 pages
  • Editeur : Penguin Classics; Édition : Reissue (27 mars 2003)
  • Collection : Literature. penguin classics
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ISBN-10: 0141439785
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141439785
  • Dimensions du produit: 19,8 x 12,9 x 2,7 cm
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 4.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (2 commentaires client)
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: 33.942 en Livres anglais et étrangers (Voir les 100 premiers en Livres anglais et étrangers)
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One evening of late summer, before the present century had reached its thirtieth year, a young man and woman, the latter carrying a child, were approaching the large village of Weydon-Priors1 on foot. Lire la première page
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3.0 étoiles sur 5 littérature 20 décembre 2011
Par julie72
Format:Broché
Un peu copieux en pages mais très bien écrit. C'est un livre dont l'histoire est percutante et très réaliste. Il se lit très bien.
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5.0 étoiles sur 5 Great value book 20 décembre 2010
Format:Broché|Achat authentifié par Amazon
Bought for our book club in SW France. The book was incredibly cheap to buy and excellent value for money. And to my surprise I got straight into the storyline!
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Amazon.com: 4.1 étoiles sur 5  181 commentaires
51 internautes sur 55 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 The link between Dickens and James? 31 mars 2003
Par Jack Cade - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
When one finishes "Casterbridge," one is immediately struck by its place in the development of the novel. Hardy came after Dickens and before James, and his style intrigues as you connect parts of it to the former, parts to the latter.

His plotting is sort of Dickens "lite." There are mysterious benefactors, sudden tragic deaths, reversals of fortune, paternity mysteries, ect. His prose is cleaner and easier to read than both Dickens and James; "Casterbridge" scans better than "Bleak House" or "The Wings of the Dove."

The story begins when a pastoral laborer, in a drunken rage, sells his wife and child one evening (I hate it when that happens...). When he wakes the next morning, abhorred at what he has done, he swears off liquor and decides to make something of his life. The novel truly begins eighteen years later, when his wife and daughter come back to present themselves to him. In the course of the rest of the novel, we witness the fall of the now Mayor of Casterbridge, brought about by his own character flaws and the interventions of fate.

Henchard, the main character, is a facinating combination of hot-spirited volition and turn-on-a-dime repentance. He is quick to do things which damn him but just as quick to admit his guilt. He is a wonderful character and a precursor to the later "psychological" novels of James and Forster. The satellite characters remind one of Dickens, but they are not nearly as startling and interesting, but of course, a character such as Henchard never existed in all of Dickens.

The novel proceeds to its forgone conclusion inexorably, albiet with a few melodromatic touches, yet it sustains its tone and readibility due mostly to Henchard, and the dramatic situations Hardy puts him through.

Well worth a look.
24 internautes sur 26 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Be Careful What You Wish For? 9 janvier 2003
Par Dana Keish - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
Since I have decided to dedicate part of my time spent reading in 2003 to the classics, I started first with The Mayor of Casterbridge, not the most famous of Hardy's works but seemingly a good place to start. I will definitely read the other works by this author since I was so captivated by this book.
The novel begins with the sale of Michael Henchard's wife and child to the highest bidder at a local summer fair. Henchard is drunk and his wife, tired of his habits, decides to leave with the sailor who bids on her and her daughter. Henchard wakes up the next morning, somewhat remorseful for what he has done and vows not to drink for twenty-one years.
The very next chapter picks up the story nineteen years later, with the return of the wife and child into Henchard's life. Henchard is now quite wealthy and is such an important man in his community, he is now Mayor of Casterbridge. From here, a series of wrong decisions and misunderstandings lead to the devastating conclusion.
Hardy is well known for his tendency towards gloomy endings and this book certainly fits the mold. But he is also well known for his lyrical descriptions of the English countryside and describing a way of life which had disappeared even in his own time. There were beautiful passages about the hay carts being driven through town, loaded so high that people on the second floor of homes could reach out and touch the top of the hay. Small details abound, describing the sound of rain on trees and the smell of the local foods. But perhaps the most significant aspect of the novel for me was the feeling that Henchard had wished for everything that had happened to him, and all of his wishes came true, and thus ultimately his downfall. These wishes were almost all made in a rash moment, when perhaps a minute or more of reflection could have produced a clearer head. Yet Henchard lives by his instincts, since for almost twenty years they seemed to serve him well.
I would recommend this book to any serious literature lover and I believe it serves as a good introduction to his other works. His books serve as a bridge from Victorian literature to modern literature, with no happy endings guaranteed.
18 internautes sur 19 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Discovery of the Beauty of English Literature 7 décembre 2000
Par Jenny - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
At first I was forced to read "The Mayor of Casterbridge" in school more than 12 years ago. Reading it slowly made an impact on my life. This book always served a special purpose in my life. It introduced me to the wide world of Literature. It sort of enlighten my interest and liking for English literature. Now re-reading it not only brought back fond memories of my yester school days but also renewed my liking to one of the greatest writer of all time Thomas Hardy.
Through this novel I came to the understanding of Irony and oxymoron. Hardy totally wrote with a sense of awareness of human characteristic and he had a amazing style of mixed humour with tragedy.
His protagonist,Michael Henchard's life was under the microscope of Hardy.
I love the way the story began I quote:"ONE evening of late summer, before the nineteenth century had reached one-third of its span, a young man and woman, the latter carrying a child, were approaching the large village of Weydon-Priors, in Upper Wessex, on foot. " I love the Englishness and the sense of intriguing events that would follow...
In brief, Michael Henchard was a drunk who sold his wife and daughter at the fair. Later he realised his mistakes he work real hard and eventually became the mayor of Casterbridge. His life took another twist 20 years later when his wife and daughter came back to his life plus a few more other characters adding on the complexity of his life.Soonafter events unfolded and many things became to go against his way and then came his downfall. Indeed Michael Henchard's rise and fall were filled with compelling details and his encounters with numerous intestering people.
What I love most about this novel was the way Hardy depicted Henchard's behaviours and thoughts and totally enhanced his weak character and irresponsibleness with dashes of ironies. His sardonic literary style were brilliant and at the same time he also vividly described the scenery and situations. Another greatest of Hardy was his ability to create innovative characters still account for in modern contemporary days and he was a pioneer in analysising human's weakness and blended it into his creation. It's a vintage classic,psychoanalytic and intriguingly written ,a must read for all books lover.
23 internautes sur 26 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Masterpiece of the Highest Order 28 février 2010
Par Bill R. Moore - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
The Mayor of Casterbridge is not Thomas Hardy's most famous or acclaimed novel, but in the opinion of this die-hard fan it is his best. The later Tess of the D'Urbervilles and Jude the Obscure are generally considered his masterpieces, but while this lacks their epic grandeur and sociopolitical relevance, it is more immediately arresting, has a more conventionally interesting plot, and features one of literature's best tragic heroes. I give it the highest possible recommendation not only for fans but for anyone even remotely alive to literary greatness.

Hardy in his day was nearly unique in mixing high literary elements with what would later be called pulp factors. Hard as it is to imagine, he was like William Faulkner and Stephen King in one - a true artist with mass appeal, both critically acclaimed and bestselling. However, his early nineteenth century rural English settings, heavy dialect use, eccentric vocabulary, and other characteristics make many current readers think his books slow going. The Mayor is the obvious exception, beginning almost immediately with one of the most arresting and unforgettable scenes in all literature - nothing less than a drunken man selling his wife and child to a stranger out of anger and disgust. As often with Hardy, it is based on a real incident, but he dramatizes so vividly that we cannot help being enthralled. The drama indeed reaches such a fever pitch in these first few pages that even those normally averse to classic literature can hardly help being pulled in.

Such a beginning sets a very high standard, and it is a testament to the book's greatness that it never disappoints - and, indeed, hardly lets up. The popular aspects of Hardy's fiction made him more influential on later writers, especially mainstream ones, than nearly any other classic author; it is almost impossible to exaggerate his impact, which is such that even many who have never read him have been greatly influenced without knowing it. These strengths are present even in his earliest fiction, but The Mayor is the preeminent example. Supremely engrossing and intriguing, it is full of plot twists that will keep even the savviest readers guessing and ends in one of the most spectacularly memorable conclusions ever. One could not expect more from even the most entertaining pulp novel - and The Mayor of course has a wealth of great artistry to boot. To be sure, this Hardy aspect has always had critics bemoaning apparent overreliance on complex plots and melodramatic coincidence, the implication being that Hardy was unable to make a story without them. However, anyone even remotely familiar with him knows that he was intensely interested in coincidence, chance, and fate, using them deliberately to dramatize what dominated his thought. Those aware of this can see how well his writings work out the implications of his bleak impressions: that humans are near-laughably insignificant on the cosmic scale, that no force sympathetic to humans or generally benevolent controls the universe, and that human life is essentially miserable with little chance of success at love or other happiness. More specifically, his work illustrates what he called the Imminent Will - an unconscious force controlling human action. What seems luck or chance may thus be very much otherwise, though we can do nothing about it. Many have said that he has an almost malevolent attitude toward his characters, plotting so that things work out in the worst possible way and cause them the greatest possible suffering, but this is simply Hardy's view of the human condition. The Mayor's complicated plot is an essential example - perhaps the preeminent. Hardy was later somewhat unsatisfied, thinking that it suffered more from serialization's effects than any of his other novels. He worried that he included too many improbabilities and twists in an effort to include an exciting event in every installment but noted with satisfaction that the events arise naturally from the story, and so they do. Those who do not like this feature elsewhere will be unconvinced - or even have their view cemented -, but those for whom Hardy's tragic vision speaks powerfully will be in awe of the masterful execution.

There are several keys to its success. Hardy reiterated over and over again that probability of character, not of action, is what matters, and this proves it. The book works mainly because its characters are so believable and often identifiable; we care about them in spite of - or arguably even because of, such is Hardy's skill - the highly-wrought events. It has one of Hardy's largest casts, and the four main characters are some of his most fully realized and memorable. Three are unsurprisingly doomed to near-constant suffering: the admirably strong-willed and hard-working but fatally impulsive Michael Henchard; Elizabeth-Jane, who has great empathy and love potential but is so passive that others constantly step on her with impunity; and the dignified but overly passionate Lucetta. The fourth, Donald Farfrae, is one of Hardy's most original and interesting. He was not one to champion a creation, but Farfrae is probably his most thoroughly positive and genuinely likable. Other characters are drawn to him almost irresistibly, and so are we; intelligent, industrious, and positively infectious, he is drawn with a good humor almost never seen in Hardy and gives much of the book's appeal. He is also notable as a sympathetic and nuanced Scotch character from an English writer.

But this is of course mainly Henchard's story, and what a story! Hardy based his tragic fiction on ancient Greek models, but Henchard is his only true example of the tragic hero central to those works - a character who is in many ways admirable but imbued with a flaw that proves his downfall. "Impulsiveness" perhaps sums up his and is manifested in various ways; many know such a person, but the far more important thing is that we can see ourselves in him. He is in some ways an Everyman despite obvious flaws and has several admirable qualities, not least how he raised himself from extreme poverty to relative wealth and prominence by sheer force of will. However, his fall is even greater than his rise - in fact, one of the greatest and most affecting ever imagined. It is a true testament to Hardy's artistry that he makes us care for Henchard despite him being in many ways despicable; for him to win our hearts after the opening scene seems not only impossible but perverse to even conceive, yet Hardy pulls it off. There is much to dislike, but he is fully and thus frailly and tragically human. Whether or not we think him redeemed, he is more sinned against than sinning, as even those he has wronged eventually see. Yet he also undeniably caused his own demise; what seems like bad luck or wretched fate is really his bad decisions' delayed consequences. His end is one of the most highly tragic and sympathetic ever written; he dies miserably alone and fully broken, denied even the last ray of light that a guilty conscience and sincere repentance could have potentially given. The scene with his final note - complete with misspellings belying the lack of education and humble background that made his rise more remarkable but that he was in many ways unable to overcome - is one of the most moving I have ever read. It is the culmination of what is a highly emotional work throughout; Hardy runs us through a gamut of feelings as only he can. The pathos is at times almost unbearable, and few readers will not cry at least once. Indeed, aside from Les Misérables, which I believe is unquestionably the greatest creation of all-time, no other book out of the hundreds or thousands I have read has moved me so often or deeply. Other than Victor Hugo, Hardy has no equal at conveying emotion, and this is his supreme example. Later works, particularly Tess, show the tragedy of the human condition on a grander scale, but only Oedipus Rex itself even rivals this as a supremely moving depiction of individual tragedy. Indeed, I can say without hyperbole that nothing else I have ever experienced - artistic or otherwise - has driven home life's profound tragedy with such conviction or force.

This alone is of course more than enough reason to read the book, but the work is also notable for other reasons. Chief among these is another perennial Hardy strength - great sense of place. Perhaps no one equals him in making place so vivid that it is essential to the story; setting is never mere background with him. He is of course best-known in this regard for Wessex - the part-real, part-dream country based on his native Southwest England that he made world famous. Setting is not as important here as in some other works, but the Casterbridge focus is particularly noteworthy. Based on the real-life Dorchester, Casterbridge is Wessex's largest town; nearly all Wessex stories and a considerable number of the poems mention it, and many take place there in part. However, this is unique in being almost entirely set there, giving both a fascinating glimpse into Southwest England's early nineteenth-century hub and filling in much of the background to other works. This is invaluable to fans and of considerable interest to historians and others.

Relatedly, Hardy's work is well-known for showing modernity's ache, i.e., how technology and other advances were rapidly and drastically changing a society that had been essentially the same for a thousand years. The Mayor in particular portrays its effect on agriculture and other business aspects, depicting all with realism and human interest. Some current readers may think this makes the book drag somewhat, but it will be a big attraction for others, especially those keen on the background to the book and its importance to Hardy's life and thought.

I simply cannot praise the novel highly enough; it is one of the all-time greatest artistic achievements, a supreme creation of artistry and, more fundamentally, the human heart. Suffice it to say that anyone sensitive to the unforgettable final two paragraphs, which sum up Hardy's grim but eminently practical view of existence in his fine inimitable style and conclude by calling happiness "the occasional episode in a general drama of pain," will not find the sentiments more vividly dramatized anywhere. This is enough - perhaps even all anyone could ask for.
11 internautes sur 11 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A literary miracle...and a very modern novel... 9 décembre 2003
Par hawthorne wood - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
I'm re-reading this book that thrilled me years ago and thrills me today. Now, however, I realize just how "modern" it is, even more so than the works of Dickens, whom I also revere, but whose writing had a quaint quality that actually makes him the lesser artist, in my opinion. Hardy's writing is spare but nothing is left out. You feel it, you taste it, you live it. It has the firm, sure quality of a minimalist work of art, and yet the twists and turns of its plot are dizzying. I detect its influence on novelist Toni Morrison, I might add. I'd be willing to bet she's a Hardy scholar. I read many passages, many scenes, that reminded me of her "folksy" conceits. And I was amazed at Hardy's contemporary understanding of addiction, in this case alcoholism. In fact, Henchard is a "dry drunk." He abstains from liquor for 21 years, but his character defects and lack of spiritual awareness catapault him right back into his disease when he begins drinking again. In fact, his life spirals out of control faster and faster with his first return to drink, showing that alcoholism, like all addictions, is a progressive disease. A reviewer here said the book was depressing, and that Hardy is dark. However, the "light" in Hardy comes with his wisdom, not unlike Faulkner's, of human nature. There are so many themes of the enduring truths that one is uplifted just by the reading. Sometimes I mourn for the writers I will never meet, the ones who have passed on. Their teaching is so important to my own spiritual and artistic growth, that I have experienced a great love from them and for them. Hardy is one of those for me. Wherever he dwells now, I send him my appreciation.
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