Bleak House (Barnes & Noble Classics Series) [NOOK Book]

Overview



Bleak House, by Charles Dickens, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features ...
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Bleak House (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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Overview



Bleak House, by Charles Dickens, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:
  • New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars
  • Biographies of the authors
  • Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events
  • Footnotes and endnotes
  • Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work
  • Comments by other famous authors
  • Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations
  • Bibliographies for further reading
  • Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate
All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.

 

Often considered Charles Dickens’s masterpiece, Bleak House blends together several literary genres—detective fiction, romance, melodrama, and satire—to create an unforgettable portrait of the decay and corruption at the heart of English law and society in the Victorian era.

Opening in the swirling mists of London, the novel revolves around a court case that has dragged on for decades—the infamous Jarndyce and Jarndyce lawsuit, in which an inheritance is gradually devoured by legal costs. As Dickens takes us through the case’s history, he presents a cast of characters as idiosyncratic and memorable as any he ever created, including the beautiful Lady Dedlock, who hides a shocking secret about an illegitimate child and a long-lost love; Mr. Bucket, one of the first detectives to appear in English fiction; and the hilarious Mrs. Jellyby, whose endless philanthropy has left her utterly unconcerned about her own family.

As a question of inheritance becomes a question of murder, the novel’s heroine, Esther Summerson, struggles to discover the truth about her birth and her unknown mother’s tragic life. Can the resilience of her love transform a bleak house? And—more devastatingly—will justice prevail?

 

Tatiana M. Holway received her Ph.D. from Columbia University. A specialist in Victorian literature and society, she has published a number of articles on Dickens and has taught at a variety of undergraduate institutions.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781411431843
  • Publisher: Barnes & Noble
  • Publication date: 6/1/2009
  • Series: Barnes & Noble Classics Series
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 912
  • Sales rank: 52,246
  • File size: 14 MB
  • Note: This product may take a few minutes to download.

Meet the Author

Charles Dickens
Tatiana M. Holway received her Ph.D. from Columbia University. A specialist in Victorian literature and society, she has published a number of articles on Dickens and has taught at a variety of undergraduate institutions.

Biography

Born on February 7, 1812, Charles Dickens was the second of eight children in a family burdened with financial troubles. Despite difficult early years, he became the most successful British writer of the Victorian age.

In 1824, young Charles was withdrawn from school and forced to work at a boot-blacking factory when his improvident father, accompanied by his mother and siblings, was sentenced to three months in a debtor's prison. Once they were released, Charles attended a private school for three years. The young man then became a solicitor's clerk, mastered shorthand, and before long was employed as a Parliamentary reporter. When he was in his early twenties, Dickens began to publish stories and sketches of London life in a variety of periodicals.

It was the publication of Pickwick Papers (1836-1837) that catapulted the twenty-five-year-old author to national renown. Dickens wrote with unequaled speed and often worked on several novels at a time, publishing them first in monthly installments and then as books. His early novels Oliver Twist (1837-1838), Nicholas Nickleby (1838-1839), The Old Curiosity Shop (1840-1841), and A Christmas Carol (1843) solidified his enormous, ongoing popularity. As Dickens matured, his social criticism became increasingly biting, his humor dark, and his view of poverty darker still. David Copperfield (1849-1850), Bleak House (1852-1853), Hard Times (1854), A Tale of Two Cities (1859), Great Expectations (1860-1861), and Our Mutual Friend (1864-1865) are the great works of his masterful and prolific period.

In 1858 Dickens's twenty-three-year marriage to Catherine Hogarth dissolved when he fell in love with Ellen Ternan, a young actress. The last years of his life were filled with intense activity: writing, managing amateur theatricals, and undertaking several reading tours that reinforced the public's favorable view of his work but took an enormous toll on his health. Working feverishly to the last, Dickens collapsed and died on June 8, 1870, leaving The Mystery of Edwin Drood uncompleted.

Author biography from the Barnes & Noble Classics edition of David Copperfield.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Charles John Huffam Dickens (full name) "Boz" (pen name)
    1. Date of Birth:
      February 7, 1812
    2. Place of Birth:
      Portsmouth, England
    1. Date of Death:
      June 18, 1870
    2. Place of Death:
      Gad's Hill, Kent, England

Read an Excerpt


From Tatiana M. Holway’s Introduction to Bleak House

“‘What do you think of Bleak House?’ is a question which everybody has heard propounded within the last few weeks, when this serial was drawing towards its conclusion; and which, when the work was actually closed, formed, for its own season, as regular a portion of miscellaneous chitchat as ‘How are you?’”

 

So began a review of Dickens’s ninth novel, commenting on the commentary Bleak House was generating and attesting, in this way, not just to the popularity of the writer but, even more, to the supra-literary status of his works. “His current story was really a topic of the day,” a reviewer later reminisced; “it seemed something almost akin to politics and news—as if it belonged not so much to literature as to events.” There was a difference, though: in the serial form in which Dickens’s novels were originally published, the topic of the day stretched on for many, many weeks and months, and with most of them being published in nineteen monthly numbers, these works were before the public for over a year and a half.

 

By the time the serialization of Bleak House, in September of 1853, Dickens had been publishing prodigiously for seventeen years, and his continuous, unprecedented popularity was itself a “regular . . . portion” of contemporary criticism. From the day that “‘Boz’ first carried away the prize of popular applause . . . by the publication of the unrivaled Pickwick . . . he has had no equal in the favor of the reading public,” another review of Bleak House began. Other Victorian writers could sell more books: G. M. Reynolds, for one, whose career began with a plagiarism of The Pickwick Papers, far surpassed Dickens in sales of his sensational series on The Mysteries of London (1845–1855). But Dickens sold extraordinarily well: “I believe I have never had so many readers as in this book,” he remarked in the preface to Bleak House. And these readers were confined to no class. Dickens was a fixture at “every fireside in the kingdom.” When it came to Bleak House —“To ‘recommend’ it would be superfluous. Who will not read it?”

 

Such a popular novel “is, to a certain extent, independent of criticism,” yet another reviewer asserted, effectively throwing up his hands. Nonetheless, critics had to say something, and what they said was quite mixed. There was censure: “Bleak House is, even more than any of its predecessors, chargeable not simply with faults, but absolute want of construction.” There was praise: Bleak House is “the greatest, the least faulty, the most beautiful of all the works which the pen of Dickens has given to the world.” Most readers of Dickens had long agreed that “the delineation of character is his forte,” but whether the characters of Bleak House were “life-like” or “contrived,” “truthful” or “exaggerated” was another matter. So, too, was the plot: in this regard, the novel represented either “an important advance on anything that we recollect in our author’s previous works” or, quite simply, a “failure.” In short, there may have been a great deal of talk about Bleak House, but there was little consensus in what critics said about Bleak House.

 

Such controversy is notable in itself. Although Dickens’s reputation among critics had fluctuated somewhat, especially in the 1840s, never before had assessments of his work been so conflicting. Nor had derogatory commentary been so pointed. Going beyond the “merits” and “defects” of the work—which was, after all, not exempt from such judgments—criticism of Bleak House became criticism of the author, whose “usefulness, instructiveness, and value” were coming to be increasingly questioned and whose very popularity was becoming grounds for alarm. “Author and public react on one another,” another critic began; where “truth of nature and sobriety of thought are largely sacrificed to mannerism and point,” the effect was not good. Within a few years, Dickens’s reputation among critics—though not his sales—would take an even more pronounced turn for the worse.

 

Now, though, we bask in Bleak House. Resurrected by a series of influential twentieth-century readers, such as George Orwell and Edmund Wilson, Bleak House has come, once again, to be a “regular portion” of literary inquiry, its interest sustained and augmented by the many modes of reading we have available to us, both within academic institutions and without. In the last twenty-five years, more than four hundred studies of one form or another have been devoted to Bleak House, and, although disagreements certainly persist, Dickens’s most ambitious novel has come to be widely regarded as his most accomplished one, too. Still, the question of what he accomplished in Bleak House remains worth asking, however partial and provisional the answers may be.

 



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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 252 )
Rating Distribution

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(105)

4 Star

(55)

3 Star

(33)

2 Star

(22)

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(37)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 251 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 20, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    "Bleak House" is truly Dicken's masterpiece!

    Take it from a person who has read alot of Dickens: "Bleak House" is Dickens at his finest. From the sweeping Chancery case of Jarndyce and Jarndyce and the epic struggle of all of those blighted by the case's corrupting touch to the shocking revelation of Esther's true pedigree, this novel entertains, enlightens, engrosses, and enriches the reader. Deeply evocative, this hefty novel, like so many other gargantuan tomes (e.g. War and Peace, Atlas Shrugged, The Brothers Karamazov, etc) has wisely been kept, surviving the ages for new generations to enjoy and revere. I highly recommend "Bleak House!"

    P.S. My review was kind enough to leave out major plot points - why can't other people do that? - but this is really a slammer towards Barnes and Noble. To my great dismay, the back cover of your edition ruined the climax and denouement of several major plot lines in this book. Maybe next time you should actually increase intrigue in the book - like a good cover synopsis is supposed to do - instead of telling the story. Everyone who reads this novel has read books before, and I think 99% of the population can pretty much figure out one major plot line given away by the synopsis - or should I say spoiler - you have so fittingly placed on the back cover. If I wanted to find the plot line to "Bleak House" in three seconds, I would have bought your Sparknotes product for this book and not spent 4 weeks arduously reading, yet savoring, every one of Dickens well-placed, well-selected words!

    13 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 1, 2011

    Unreadable

    Bleak house is a masterful mystery but this version has nonsense words not in the original. I will delete it because it is unreadable in this format.

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 9, 2008

    A most 'Dickensian' Dickens novel

    'Bleak House' is, alas, one of those books by Dickens that few people ever read because of its great length, which is certainly a metaphor for the interminable estate lawsuit that forms one of the major themes. However, Dickens' fluid writing style makes it quite an easy read (one day I was able to cover almost 100 pages), full of rich description, wonderful humor, pointed opinion about the English social and legal systems, and of course a myriad of those dotty denizens with imaginatively colorful names that Dickens is so famous for (Lord and Lady Dedlock, Mr. Krook, Mr. Turveydrop, Miss Flite). There are elements of a number of his other works here -- the distressed 'Oliver Twist' children, the 'David Copperfield' transplanted orphans, the hopes for good fortune of 'Great Expectations'. The reader also needs to be patient with the atmosphere of fog and murk, both within the setting in the Court of Chancery (among other places) and also concealing the secrets of plot and character that lurk in shadow for a while (shadows, some with symbolic color, play a role all their own) and pop up suddenly into the light at different times throughout the book. If you would know the mature Dickens, this is a definitive book. This fine Barnes & Noble edition is a great advantage to modern American readers because of the many excerpts of early newpaper reviews and of literary criticism, as well as a large number of footnotes and endnotes, so the reader should have at least two bookmarks handy. The average reader who is not a proofreader (as this reviewer is) should be able to overlook the numerous typos and loose periods scattered about in the middle of sentences.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 10, 2006

    An Excellent Edition of a Timeless Classic

    There are many editions of this classic Dickensian work, but if you're interested in reading BLEAK HOUSE¿in fact, if you're interested in reading any of the classics of the 18th and 19th centuries¿I strongly recommend looking at the Barnes & Noble Classics Series. Physically, the covers are heavy with a satin finish for a good grip, the bindings are strong, the paper is of a good weight, and the quality of the typesetting is excellent (no noted typos in 800+ pages). For editorial content, I give them top marks the introduction was educational, the footnotes provide immediate explanation of the odd Victorian word or phrase, the end-notes add a great deal of context for the more curious reader, the period woodcuts are clear and often humorous, and this title also has a London map, a Dickensian timeline, and a Dramatis Personae. My only wish is that it had a couple of ribbon bookmarks, though I've supplied my own without trouble. As for the novel itself, it's one of Dickens' darkest books, if not the darkest. The satire is sharp, the humor is dry, the characters are exceedingly memorable. Some might find the character of Esther Summerson a bit too Pollyannish, but I think her first-person narrative brings a welcome change from the starker tone of the third-person/present-tense omniscient who relates the other parts of the story. Moreover, I find that while Esther starts out quite too good to be true, she undergoes a subtle but consistently discernable transformation from girl to woman, precipitated by her situation, an illness, and the discovery of her own personal history. Long? Yes, it's a long book. And if you haven't read any Victorian fiction, you might want to start with something a little shorter. However, though there is a good bit of bleakness in Bleak House, it's far and away a brighter, more cheerful book than Thomas Hardy's works, so take that into account.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 29, 2012

    Wonderful story!

    This is a wonderful book - not as slow as some other Dickens stories. It is acutally my favorite Dickens book - great story line.
    Warning - this is a DRM book, so it cannot be saved to Calibre on a computer so that it will open. I like to back up my favorite books after I purchase them, and you are unable to with this version.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 31, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    One of Dickens' Finest

    This is one of my favorite books of all time! It tells the incredible story of a lawsuit hung up for so long in the Victorian English court system that in the end - well, you will have to read it to find out! The characters are beautifully conveyed, and the writing is so rich it's like a literary dessert. Highly recommended.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 3, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    I highly recommend this outstanding work of fiction

    I have acquired the habit of reading a classic every third or fourth novel I read. Bleak House was the best novel that I have read in a long time, beating out Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner which I liked immensely. I liked the subtle humor in it as well as the outrageous depiction of some of the key characters that were undoubtedly based on people that Dickens knew. The original illustrations were marvelous.
    My only negative comment has to do with the introduction written by a scholar who is an expert in Victorian literature, and I would recommend skipping it because it is largley incoherent.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 3, 2000

    An Excellent Novel--But Not Dickens Best

    I've undertaken to read all of Dickens' major works, from 'Oliver Twist' to 'Our Mutual Friend'. Having recently finished 'Bleak House' I can give it a hardy recommendation with one caveat: the character of Esther is the best example of the worst aspects of Victorian morality. The intrigue, the murder, and the mysteries, are all examples of Dickens at his best; but how can one be sympathetic with a heroine whose annoying, self-effacing, yet self-aggrandizing, modesty causes the novel to continually grind to a halt? If not for this highly disagreeable character this would be Dickens' best. When there are hidden and underrated treasures like 'Barnaby Rudge' in the Dickens canon, I think 'Bleak House' can be put aside and read another day.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 26, 2012

    Riveting!!!!!!!!!!

    Could not lay this book down....Dickens was a writing genius!!!!!!! Not for the faint of heart.... a pretty accurate depiction of humanity......not to far off the mark of life in todays world....just the fashions have changed...and some of the living conditions.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 16, 2011

    Amazing book!!!!!!!!!

    A wonderful version with beautiful pictures. I doubt there is a better version of Bleak House.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2011

    OCR terrible

    From the first page this is unreadable

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 12, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    My first Dickens

    Bleak House by Charles Dickens is one of the BBC's top 100 books to read.I am glad I waited till now to read this novel, because I think I would have been lost if I attempted this book in middle school or high school. There are many major characters; Harold Skimpole is my favorite. However, there are many more minor characters throughout the novel; therefore, it can be difficult for a reader to keep a grasp on everyone. Esther Summerson is the main character of the novel and the mystery that surrounds her life and identity is the meat of this story. Definitely another long book that I had to put down and pick up again several times while I was reading this novel. Readers are thrown into copious amounts of storylines that link together to main conflict of the book whicj is the investigation into Lady Dedlock's past. This is a novel that has a combination of murder, compassion and mystery that can keep readers engaged for the 880 pages of the story (with only a few lulls). I probably would never read this book again, but would definitely recommend it to those whom can appreciate tons of foreshadowing that makes a reader postulate about the storylines and the characters past and their futures.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2000

    Great Novel

    Dickens greatest novel. In this novel Dickens uses many levels of meaning and mixed melodrama to attack the false beliefs of humanitarianism as he does in most all of his novels. definitely buy this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 14, 2013

    Hard to read

    Bad version cant be read

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2012

    Another boring one.

    Too many footnotes.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 10, 2012

    Version has so many errors it looks like another language

    I love this book. This version is unreadable. I literally thought it was in Rusian when I first opened it. Then I thought, possibly Old English... but no, it was just THAT packed with errors. I can be pretty tolerant with a book I have already read and know, but this translation is awful. It should be pulled. It is not worth "free"

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 29, 2012

    Dont bother with the sample.But the book is great!!!!!

    This is a great book.I realy enjoyed it!Defanetly one of my favorites!!!!!!!I wish Mr.Dickens was still alive so he can write even more great novels:(

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 28, 2012

    Dont bother trying thr sample

    Just a title page, nothing to read.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2012

    This Google library book is an Awful digitized version!

    While the story is a classic and a wonderful read - this digitized version stinks! If I could have given it zero stars I would have. This version looks like it was scanned in via OCR and no one bothered to see if it actually scanned right. Every other word has extra characters and other garbage making it impossible to read. I have found this with quite a few other Google versions of Charles Dickens books available for free here. guess you get what you pay for!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 24, 2011

    recommend

    one of the great classics. a good read.

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