Thomas Hardy’s tragic tale of failed ambition, Jude the Obscure, is illustrated by Peter Reddick and is published as part of the Folio Society Wessex collection.
The Mayor of Casterbridge
Illustrated by Peter Reddick
Preface by the author
A meteoric social rise and fall is at the heart of Thomas Hardy’s The Mayor of Casterbridge. This stunning new Folio Society edition is part of our Wessex novels collection.
A shameful act of drunken impetuousness results in Michael Henchard losing his wife and daughter in an auction. This evil deed remains secret for years, during which time Henchard climbs the social ladder from working as a roving hay-trusser to becoming the upstanding Mayor of Casterbridge. An intricate tale of duplicity, comeuppance and regret, this novel puts its characters’ principles to the test.
‘Hardy saw the passion in the lives of ordinary country people: shepherds, milkmaids, village musicians, and expressed it with great power and empathy.’
Bound in cloth blocked with a decorative motif
Set in Baskerville
36 integrated black & white woodcut illustrations
Printed map endpapers
9˝ × 5¾˝
A shocking portrayal of humanity
That someone would sell their family to a sailor after a night on the ale seems shocking enough, but the cover-up and Henchard’s subsequent social ascent make the original act even more scandalous. Hardy rarely shies away from humanity’s darker side but his characters’ cruelties are particularly prevalent here as the bartered wife and child are forced into a new life far from home. However, the lessons meted out are suitably harsh, for Hardy makes it clear that past deeds never fade, and success and prosperity can be lost as quickly as gained. Henchard is punished for his misdemeanours to such an extent that, by the final chapters, he has become a deeply sorry, even sympathetic figure.
The Wessex novels are sweeping sagas with characters who bare their souls and share their triumphs and declines in a dazzling emotional repertoire. Hardy deals with social injustice, marriage and religion in often disparate contexts, as well as developing strong, independent female characters who are not always merely victims of their circumstances but occasionally also conquerors of them. Above all, he portrays a fatalistic view of the world: his characters are ultimately at the whim of a higher power.
A new collector’s set
The Mayor of Casterbridge is produced in series with the best of Thomas Hardy’s other Wessex novels – Tess of the d’Urbervilles, Far from the Madding Crowd and Jude the Obscure. The edition is illustrated with 36 of Peter Reddick’s delightful wood engravings and includes printed map endpapers depicting Wessex in glorious detail. Reddick’s motifs also appear on the cloth binding and are replicated on the slipcase. This is made from Fragrance of Grass paper, which is created using an ancient Chinese paper-making method that results in a unique appearance and texture.
About Thomas Hardy
About Peter Reddick
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