MJ Nicholls's Reviews > The Mayor of Casterbridge

The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy
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Jun 20, 12

bookshelves: novels, sassysassenachs, pre-1900s, oxford-classics
Read from June 18 to 20, 2012

When Thomas stopped writing novels in the early 1900s, he concentrated his bitterness on spectacularly peevish poetry, dripping with more melancholy self-loathing than mid-90s Morrissey albums (has anyone actually heard Maladjusted or Southpaw Grammar the whole way through?) These poems captivated my downbeat imagination as a teenager but the novels remained out of reach—I wanted heartbreak-to-go, I wasn’t looking to eat in the restaurant of shattered dreams. Now, I find myself pulled towards the Great Grump’s masterworks. Starting with this terrific novel that reads like a transcript of my first two goes on The Sims—I lost my father, killed my mother, made a series of kitchen-fire hotchpotches and ended up killing all my close friends and children, then killed myself. The details are different in The Mayor of Casterbridge (only slightly), but if ever a writer was Sim-like, it’s Hardy. He is like an existential bingo caller with a grudge. Mayor no more—forty-four! Poisoned by hate—eight-eight! No women survive—twenty-five! This Oxford World Classics edition stifled me with its academia and I confess I skipped the intro. Usually I like the setup and context intros give me but here, I wanted in to the action. Since this review is stressfully scattershot, I might as well conclude with this track from Nick Cave: sums up the fate of the poor Mayor perfectly, as well as being amazing in its own right:

When I First Came to Town
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Comments (showing 1-17 of 17) (17 new)

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message 1: by Geoff (new)

Geoff When I First Came to Town oh yessss..


message 2: by Jason (new) - added it

Jason MJ wrote: "I wanted heartbreak-to-go, I wasn’t looking to eat in the restaurant of shattered dreams."

Awesome review, MJ. I need to read more Hardy (I've only ever read Tess).


message 3: by MJ (new) - rated it 4 stars

MJ Nicholls Jason: As had I, until now. I meant to say something glib about his preoccupation with furniture and obscure farming practices, but there'll be time for that later.

Apparently this was loosely adapted as The Claim in 2000 by Winterbottom, with Milla Jojovich! Veeeery loosely adapted . . .


message 4: by Jason (new) - added it

Jason That one must have passed me by, I've never even heard of The Claim.


message 5: by mark (new)

mark monday i enjoyed that film.


message 6: by MJ (new) - rated it 4 stars

MJ Nicholls mark wrote: "i enjoyed that film."

Really? Did you see Winterbottom's Jude? I thought he captured the utter hopelessness of Hardy's outlook rather niftily.


message 7: by mark (new)

mark monday i enjoyed that film as well! i think Winterbottom's great. such a diversity in styles.


Mike Puma (I quite like Hardy, but no one needs to know)


message 9: by MJ (new) - rated it 4 stars

MJ Nicholls Why ever not? Is Hardy no longer a la mode with you hipsters?


message 10: by Mike (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mike Puma MJ wrote: "Why ever not? Is Hardy no longer a la mode with you hipsters?"

Cheeses! It's you preposterous pointing punksters pushing pedants posteriorly.


message 11: by mark (new)

mark monday Mike, you ole hipster you. with your hepcat alliterative lingo.


message 12: by Mike (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mike Puma mark wrote: "Mike, you ole hipster you. with your hepcat alliterative lingo."

And once again, I've been called worse


message 13: by Antonomasia (new)

Antonomasia I think those are two of Moz's most interesting solo albums - though neither can live up to its majestic opening track - but after reading this I may never be able to take Hardy quite so seriously again. Nor feel quite so sorry for poor Sim-Tess, even though she always was a made-up person.


message 14: by MJ (new) - rated it 4 stars

MJ Nicholls I fear Tess is the Simmiest of them all.


message 15: by Peta (new)

Peta Lee "He is like an existential bingo caller with a grudge."
You are hilarious!


message 16: by MJ (new) - rated it 4 stars

MJ Nicholls Peta wrote: ""He is like an existential bingo caller with a grudge."
You are hilarious!"


Thanks! Although I have no idea what I meant by that.


message 17: by Peta (new)

Peta Lee Oh, I highly doubt that. But if by chance you have early-onset dementia or alzheimer's disease, my apologies.


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