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Bleak House
     

Bleak House

3.9 41
by Charles Dickens
 

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Bleak House is a novel by Charles Dickens, published in 20 monthly instalments between March 1852 and September 1853. It is held to be one of Dickens's finest novels, containing one of the most vast, complex and engaging arrays of minor characters and sub-plots in his entire canon. The story is told partly by the novel's heroine, Esther Summerson, and partly by a

Overview

Bleak House is a novel by Charles Dickens, published in 20 monthly instalments between March 1852 and September 1853. It is held to be one of Dickens's finest novels, containing one of the most vast, complex and engaging arrays of minor characters and sub-plots in his entire canon. The story is told partly by the novel's heroine, Esther Summerson, and partly by a mostly omniscient narrator. Memorable characters include the menacing lawyer Tulkinghorn, the friendly, but depressive John Jarndyce, and the childish and disingenuous Harold Skimpole, as well as the likeable but imprudent Richard Carstone.
At the novel's core is long-running litigation in England's Court of Chancery, Jarndyce v Jarndyce, which has far-reaching consequences for all involved. This case revolves around a testator who apparently made several wills. The litigation, which already has consumed years and between £60,000 and £70,000 in court costs, is emblematic of the failure of Chancery. Dickens's assault on the flaws of the British judiciary system is based in part on his own experiences as a law clerk, and in part on his experiences as a Chancery litigant seeking to enforce his copyright on his earlier books. His harsh characterisation of the slow, arcane Chancery law process gave memorable form to pre-existing widespread frustration with the system. Though Chancery lawyers and judges criticized Dickens's portrait of Chancery as exaggerated and unmerited, his novel helped to spur an ongoing movement that culminated in enactment of the legal reform in the 1870s. In fact, Dickens was writing just as Chancery was reforming itself, with the Six Clerks and Masters mentioned in Chapter One abolished in 1842 and 1852 respectively: the need for further reform was being widely debated. These facts raise an issue as to when Bleak House is actually set. Technically it must be before 1842, and at least some of his readers at the time would have been aware of this. However, there is some question as to whether this timeframe is consistent with some of the themes of the novel. The great English legal historian Sir William Holdsworth set the action in 1827.

Product Details

BN ID:
2940015788068
Publisher:
Cricket House Books, LLC
Publication date:
11/26/2012
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
File size:
5 MB

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

Charles Dickens (1812-1870) is probably the greatest novelist England has ever produced, the author of such well-known classics as A Christmas Carol, Great Expectations, David Copperfield and Oliver Twist. His innate comic genius and shrewd depictions of Victorian life — along with his indelible characters — have made his books beloved by readers the world over.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
February 7, 1812
Date of Death:
June 18, 1870
Place of Birth:
Portsmouth, England
Place of Death:
Gad's Hill, Kent, England
Education:
Home-schooling; attended Dame School at Chatham briefly and Wellington

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Bleak House 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 41 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I never read Dickens in school or college and since have felt that perhaps I missed out on something. Recently I have sought to make up for the lack in my education. I find that I am glad I waited this long to read him. I doubt I would have appreciated him as much in my more impatient years. Bleak House is the second Dickens novel I have read. It's a complex story with a very large cast of characters. At first the indidents seemed unrelated but further reading reveals a carefully constructed tale with surprising turns. This is a book for the patient reader and not one to be hurried through. The writing style does not lend itself to a rushed reading. The payoff is high however, as there are some fabulous turns of phrase and characterizations. In some places I was moved to tears -not something that happens often with me- and in others I was indignant. There is a reason that Dickens has been referred to as the greatest English novelist of all time. Bleak House is one of them. The original Nonesuch edition was the ultimate Dickens but sadly was out of reach for most collectors. This edition is a finely made reproduction. The printing and pictures are exceptionally fine. Some of the intricate detail can only be seen with a magnifying glass. The spine is beautifuly textured bonded leather with cloth boards and embossing on the front cover. The cover is protected by a clear plastic dust jacket. The binding is sewn and the book lays open nicely. I don't think you could find a more beautiful Dickens anywhere, yet these are easily affordable for the collector. I sincerely hope to see the other 17 Nonesuch volumes produced by Barnes and Noble.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm a big Dickens fan, and this is probably my favorite of his novels. Unlike a lot of other Dickens books where the story is a little disjointed, jumping from location to location and sub-plot to sub-plot, this book stays very much on point and very little is extraneous to the ultimate ending. Although the characters are perhaps not as memorable as those in some of Dickens' more well known novels, they are extremely well developed and perhaps more relatable to the reader. What separates this book from many of DIckens' other novels, for me at least, is the non-storybook endings that many of the characters encounter, and the struggles that nearly every character in the book faces throughout. Altogether, it makes for a really enjoyable read. I couldn't recommend this book more; it is a must read for Dickens lovers and anyone with the patience to read an 800+ page book. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
He runs in and straps ss to a chair then leaves
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
LadyPJC More than 1 year ago
Tried it on my Nook Touch, Dell Streak with Nook for Android and my laptop with Nook for PC. Nook Touch and PC both just show a blank screen when I open the sample. Streak Tablet gives message that the book cannot be opened at this time. If I can't sample it, I won't buy it. I don't trust it. Too bad. Was looking forward to this one.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
My Highschool class was required to read this book and do a paper analysing something Dicken's critiques in this book. I was not thrilled to read it, but as I got into it, I could not wait to see what the next chapter would reveal about the links between characters. The characters in the book are all unique, with good-hearted John Jarndyce and Esther Summerson, who is not a true person, but is an excellent mediator without the story. Also are those trapped by the courts, and those who are like vampires, such as Vholes and Tulkinghorn. This book is definitely worth reading, because Dickens uses individualized characters to critique England's society and customs of his day. An enjoyable read, especially if you pay attention to hints about how characters are connected and how the plot will close throughout the book. I recommend trying to put things together before finishing to see if you are close. It adds a bit more flavor to the reading!