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Posts Tagged ‘Victoriana’

Well, Well, Well is not how it always ends. Mr. Hardy’s novels are the proof of the pudding here.  Michael Henchard has done got himself kilt. But it wasn’t a homicidal urge that threatened, though he pulled that trick on Farfrae he really could only do the thing to himself. So we end up with a married Elizabeth Jane and Donald Farfrae which makes the world of Casterbridge float gently ’round. Far from the bleak tragedy I was expecting, the reader becomes an uninterested party in this novel. Henchard is so hell bent upon destroying himself that the reader falls out of the groove of Hardy’s syntax only to care less and less of what actually does happen to Mr. Henchard.

As these late summer days turn to early autumn and the leaves color the trees around one can only think of days gone past and of lives lived in vain. That is what one thinks of when I reads this Hardy novel…

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I have finished the first half of the Mayor of Casterbridge and it seems that Mr. Hardy is setting me up for an emotional fail. What do I mean by that? Well, simply that with my heart going out to Mr. Henchard, Elizabeth-Jane and Ms. Templeman I can only see ruin in the last 160 pages of the book, thus leading me to an emotional fail. My sentimental senses shall splinter with the inevitable indulgence of Mr. Hardy’s ever-pressing gloom.

The only candle in this hurricane is Donald Farfrae the plucky Scot.  Mr. Hardy has deftly woven an intricate love triangle. With only the one angle being loved by the other two. The other two being women and that sort of thing being frowned upon in late Vi ctoriana. So what I am reading for is to find out if Mr. Farfrae 1.) dies in the end 2.) marries Elizabeth Jane 3.) marries Ms. Templeman 4.) becomes sage and moves back to Scotland before the omniscient narrator decides he doesn’t prefer him to Mr. Henchard.

Mr. Henchard, the ill-mannered wife-selling son of a pistol, whose heart can leap small ladies in a single bound, has effectively gotten rid of his first wife only to go to Jersey and land the affections of another woman. I can’t bear to mention the ill he bore on his first wife so let us angle in on the second woman. Ms. Templeman has come into some dough. “Plenty dough” And still Henchard basically ignores her. So naturally her affections turn to the corn and hay market man, Donald Farfrae.

Somewhere along the line there is a concatenation of events where a couple of these people will die. How do I know that, because I read a George Eliot novel once.

What I really enjoy about the novel, aside from the welcome, simple roundness of the characters and their motivations, is the implied (though not always) rusticity of the environs. From the drolleries of the commoners who inhabit Casterbridge to the smallness of the world that is Casterbridge one senses, but more than that, knows that Author Hardy completely delights in writing about his fellow countrymen and in preserving their peccadilloes for posterity.

More to come on this fascinating work…MEKM.

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So after having my copy of Dombey and Son stolen from my friends car by a homeless person I finally went out and bought a copy from Borders.  Having finished the book I am sad to part with it.  Yes the new Paul Dombey Sr. was a glancing blow to my established notion of the distinguished curmedgeon but it was a welcome change, if a bit sentimental.  Wal’r and Miss Floy become happily married and Mr. Toots and the Nipper are given to “connubial bliss” and even the dread Mac Stinger marries Bunsby in a flash of a marital headlock. 

This book was something of a long one, clocking in at only 925 pages there’s no wonder it took me months to read it.  I know the laundromat owners thought I must be crazy to keep lugging the same book there each week. I must say though that this is a well rounded book with all of its’ plot lines being cut and dried and served steaming hot with a side of emotional effrontery thrown in to satisfy the deeper reaches of the psychological palate. 

Anyways I have recently picked up Little Dorrit and David Copperfield and Oliver Twist and hope to read them this year.  For isn’t it said that to be truly literary in the least one must read all of one author’s works or some bo log na like that?  I will drink a Labat Blue tonight in hopes of honoring that proposal.

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So DIckens has done it again, he killed a favored character. I’m surprised I didn’t throw the book into the river of Paul’s dreams. But I haven’t and I am sticking this Victorian novel out to the end.  The climax of development for Paul is reached on page 234. “But he retained all that was strange, and old, and thoughtful in his character: and under circumstances so favourable to the development of those tendencies, became even more strange, and old, and thoughtful, than before.”

Goodbye young Dombey it was a pleasure to know you, but as with everything life must go on. At the halfway point of the novel we find the cruelty of Mr. Dombey begin to be unbearable, for Dickens is pulling on the heartstrings of his poor readers and even I am susceptible to it.  Young Walter Gay has been sent overseas, mistakenly. His Uncle Sol has fled leaving only Florence, Rob the Grinder, and Captain Cuttle in the positive aspect of the picture. Carker, Dombey, and Ole’ Joey B. round out the negative. What can one make of this flawed reproduction of a sliver of Mid-Victorian life?  He’s killed the Son of the title and now we are left with the bitter irony that maybe young Florence could somehow succeed?

I am not buying this view. Something triumphant, or equally tragic need occur for there to be any worth to this novel. I shall report no more until I am finished reading it.

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I have ventured further into the land of Boz, I mean Dickens. The last post regarding this novel left one with the cliffhanger ‘How will Dickens develop young Dombey’?  After more reading-I did hold the book kind of close-I have come upon the precise passage that foreshadows young Dombey’s development, though rather ambiguous it goes like this:

“They were the strangest pair at such a time that ever firelight shone upon.  Mr. Dombey so erect and solemn, gazing at the blaze; his little image, with an old, old face, peering into the red perspective with the fixed and rapt attention of a sage.  Mr. Dombey entertaining complicated worldly schemes and plans; the little image entertaining Heaven knows what wild fancies, half-formed thoughts, and wandering speculations. Mr. Dombey stiff with starch and arrogance; the little image by inheritance, and in unconscious imitation. The two so very much alike, and yet so monstrously contrasted.”

Here we have Dickens preparing the reader for the divergence and the similarity to come. For young Dombey is a pitiable frail child as the astute reader is soon to learn in the coming chapters.  So I leave you with another question. Will young Walter marry Miss Florence Dombey? and another, will young Dombey find the woman of his fancy?

I sincerely cannot wait to finish this wonderful book.

Next time I will summon the Introduction by the learned scholars of Penguin and we shall delve further into the many themes of this novel.

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