Great Expectations (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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Great Expectations, 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:

All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls ...
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Overview

Great Expectations, 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:

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.

 

Great Expectations, described by G. K. Chesterton as a "study in human weakness and the slow human surrender,” may be called Charles Dickens’s finest moment in a remarkably illustrious literary career.

In an overgrown churchyard, a grizzled convict springs upon an orphan named Pip. The convict terrifies the young boy and threatens to kill him unless Pip helps further his escape. Later, Pip finds himself in the ruined garden where he meets the bitter and crazy Miss Havisham and her foster child Estella, with whom he immediately falls in love. After a secret benefactor gives him a fortune, Pip moves to London, where he cultivates great expectations for a life which would allow him to discard his impoverished beginnings and socialize with the idle upper class. As Pip struggles to become a gentleman and is tormented endlessly by the beautiful Estella, he slowly learns the truth about himself and his illusions.

Written in the last decade of his life, Great Expectations reveals Dickens’s dark attitudes toward Victorian society, its inherent class structure, and its materialism. Yet this novel persists as one of Dickens’s most popular. Richly comic and immensely readable, Great Expectations overspills with vividly drawn characters, moral maelstroms, and the sorrow and pity of love.

Radhika Jones is a doctoral candidate in English and comparative literature at Columbia University and the managing editor of Grand Street magazine.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781593080068
  • Publisher: Barnes & Noble
  • Publication date: 5/1/2003
  • Series: Barnes & Noble Classics Series
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 592
  • Sales rank: 207,510
  • Product dimensions: 4.13 (w) x 6.75 (h) x 1.48 (d)

Meet the Author

Charles Dickens
Radhika Jones is a doctoral candidate in English and comparative literature at Columbia University and the managing editor of Grand Street magazine.

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 Radhika Jones's Introduction to Great Expectations

Whatever expectations Charles Dickens had for his thirteenth novel, he probably did not anticipate that it would someday come to exemplify the Victorian novel itself. But to the countless contemporary readers who follow the adventures of young Pip, the convict he fears, the girl he loves, and the strange old woman he thinks will make his fortune, Great Expectations is in many ways the quintessential nineteenth-century story: part mystery, part bildungsroman, or novel of education, in which our hero, rising above his modest beginnings, moves to London, prospers, and eventually (he hopes) gets the girl. Pip's course, however, does not run so smoothly, and it is the variations Dickens plays on this theme that prompt us to read Great Expectations both with and against the grain of the Victorian novel, for at times it is less an emblem of tradition than a marker of change in both the English society it depicts and the English novel it represents. There are surprises at work in Great Expectations for both its characters and its readers, who bring to it their own expectations of what a novel should be and do.

A caricature of Dickens displayed in bookstores when the first sections of Great Expectations appeared (in serialized form, as was common for novels in the Victorian era) shows the author at his desk, pen in hand, hair standing on end, exuding genius. The caption reads, "Charles Dickens, from whom we have Great Expectations." Though the pun is obvious, it is worth recalling for the simple reason that it sounds oddly forward-looking, like something one would say of a promising young writer at the beginning of his career. When Dickens began Great Expectations, at age forty-eight, he already had a dozen novels to his name, as well as countless short stories; he was also an accomplished and experienced editor, a powerful publisher, and a prolific generator of nonfiction-articles, editorials, sketches, and so on. Thanks to both his own prodigious skills and the remarkable rise in literacy rates in nineteenth-century England and America-a fortuitous combination of talented writer and eager new readership-Dickens was one of the first bona-fide mass-market writers in history, a best-selling author and, as novelist Jane Smiley observes in a recent biography, "maybe the first true celebrity in the modern sense." If the world had Great Expectations of Dickens, those expectations could be only that he would continue to deliver a product of which he himself was the most significant producer: compelling stories that appeared in monthly or weekly installments to entertain and inform. And so the caricature's caption reminds us of Dickens's intimate relationship to his readership; the novels he produced went from his pen to their hands with a kind of immediacy that no longer exists in the world of fiction outside of journalism. With every installment of his new novel, Dickens would fulfill expectations, even as he stoked the public's appetite for more.

The writing of Great Expectations coincided roughly with a new phase in Dickens's life and career. He had recently left his wife, Catherine, mother of his ten children, and had embarked on a very private affair with a young actress, Ellen Ternan. He had also discontinued his immensely popular weekly journal Household Words, of which he was editor and part-owner, after his copublishers took issue with his decision to print a personal statement, intended to refute rumors about his dissolving marriage, on the front page. Now Dickens was editor of a replacement journal, All the Year Round, in which his historical novel A Tale of Two Cities debuted. Shortly after finishing that work, he began contributing chapters of Great Expectations to boost the circulation, which was sagging due to a lackluster serial by Charles Lever that was then running. (As Dickens's friend and biographer John Forster wryly notes: "A tale, which at the time was appearing in his serial, had disappointed expectation.") Dickens called a staff meeting to discuss options, but he had already decided on a course of action: It was time for him to "strike in." His faith in his selling power did not go unrewarded; circulation of the weekly rebounded and remained healthy for the rest of Dickens's career. But his decision had an impact on the story he was envisioning before it even reached the page. According to Forster, Dickens was planning to compose his new novel-for which he had already conceived the pivotal relationship, between a young boy and a convict-in monthly serial form, comprising twenty numbers, which would have made it a much longer work on the scale of such previous hits as Dombey and Son and Little Dorrit. Publishing it in his weekly journal would require Dickens to reconfigure his idea into a shorter book, along the lines of its predecessor, A Tale of Two Cities. The result is a novel more pruned in its plots, more limited in its cast of characters than others of Dickens's great works. It was a "sacrifice," Dickens told Forster, "really and truly made for myself"-a compromise between Dickens the publisher and Dickens the writer. Thus was Great Expectations born: out of disappointed expectation, transformed from its creator's original expectation. The meanings inscribed in its title had already begun to multiply.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 648 )
Rating Distribution

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2 Star

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 651 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 16, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A Masterpiece

    There are very few authors who were as generous as Charles Dickens. From eeire graveyard encounters and a creaky old mansion haunted by the spectral Ms. Havisham to the comedy of a chaotic production of Hamlet to the cold stones of Newgate prison, this is a book that covers a wide range of human emotions and experiences, all with Dicken's typical insights into human nature and loveable crew of characters.

    I will not waste time recounting the plot, but I will recommend this book based on the fact that you WILL relate to Pip if you have ever been ashamed of yourself for reasons you could not define, if you have ever felt that you wanted, nay deserved, more than the life you know, if you have ever deeply loved someone who didn't give a damn about you, or if you have ever been profoundly uncertain about what the future holds for you. In short, you will relate to Pip's journey if you are in the midst of growing up.

    It would be equally wasteful to praise the novel's expert craft and pacing. My one criticism would be that the ending is a bit of an anti-climax. However, upon further reflection (and I don't think this is giving too much away) I realized that is more or less the point of the book.

    Enjoy.

    18 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 5, 2008

    Stunning

    As an eighth grader, I don't understand why some teens dislike this novel. Is it just because it's a bit longer than we are used to? For me, it is an outstanding classic. Pip faces problems that we still face today-our high expectations, our unsatisfying results. Admittedly, the novel is a bit long, but without the text it holds, we would never be able to truly grasp the theme Charles Dickens is trying to convey. Each detail, each scene, each chapter adds more to our understanding. I feel like I am there with Pip as the story progresses. The length of the book plays a key point in the novel, for it leads the reader through Pip's life, the good and the bad. Reading the book carefully allows the reader to really understand what Pip has been through, and how he compensates. This novel is a stunning classic, and will remain my favorite book.

    14 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2012

    WOW!! BAD TYPOS

    Reading this book for the first time, I cant believe all the misspelled words and words that really did not make sense! I tried really hard to read this book, but after a short while, I just decided to buy the book instead of reading it on my NOOK. At least the actual book will have the right words and I will understand it!! Really someone needs to corrrect all the mistakes in the Nook version!!

    7 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 3, 2010

    One of the Best Classics Ever Written

    Great Expectations was required reading material in high school back in the 1980's. And as a result has become one of my all time favorite classic works by Charles Dickens. Charles Dickens was such an excellent writer that he made the charaters come to life. This is one of those classics that you absolutely cannot put it down until you have finished it. As you start reading Great Expectations you feel like you are accompanying Pip on his journey through life. With the sounds, sights, and smells. Experienceing the ups and downs, that life has to offer. For instance lifes's humble beginnings, the twists and turns, and a very humgle ending.Starting life as he did Pip was not happy with his beginnings in life and always wanting more. From meeting unstable individuals in the prohibited marshes while playing, manners being tought from an old, rich, bitter woman, to the most unlikey of unnamed benifactors that you are likely to meet. To be making a move to London to go to school, being able to make friends with influentual individuals and experiencing who they live, and some people that are even simple in how they view life and just trying to get by as best they can. Pip did a wonderful very unselfish thing when he anominoulsy helped a friend reach his life long goals, for instance becoming part owner of a business, marrying the one he loves and having family. Which in the real world would never happen. The ending, I thought could have been left on a better note than it was. Great Expectations is a good book for the old addage "Be careful what you wish for". The out come of such wishes may or may not be what you expected.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 24, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Beautifully Written

    I enjoyed htis much more than Oliver Twist! The characters were complex and facsinating! One thing is it's not the kind of book you can just pick up and read a page. It doesn't just pull you in, you have to focus.

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 27, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Stimulatingly Brilliant

    This beautifully written novel absolutely deserves its place as one of the crown jewels of Dickens' many works. It is very smoothly written however is somewhat dense and is therefore required to be read rather slowly to be digested properly. I would only recommend this book to those whom I know have the intellectual capability and the stamina to keep up with this rigorous work. Overall stupendous.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 4, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    My Expectations

    This book was forced upon me as summer reading. I struggled throught it. I had to reference to spark notes and the movie (something I NEVER do). But after I could get throught the writing style and look back on the story and the characters I sort of fell in love with it. So for a free read NO. But as for something analitical an absolute yes!

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 9, 2010

    Greta Expectaions

    It is an exceptional book. Charles Dickens uses the words as if he were a dictionary. Excellent control of superb words. It is amzaing how the rising action and falling action happens.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2009

    Great Read!

    This is a great classic which everyone should read.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 16, 2008

    Good, If you have time.

    To enter Honors English, i was required to read Great Expectations. My first thought, and the thought of many other teens, was oh great, a lengthy book using old English vocabulary But i was surprised, i actually enjoyed it. It does get weak in some parts, but its a great piece of Literature.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 25, 2008

    Amazing

    I found this book really well written. I personally recommend the unabridged version. After you get to understand the was he writes and the old english you will really enjoy it.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 23, 2013

    Pll

    For all you haters, pll cast,emily and alison loved it so whatever jerks

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 20, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    Great Expectations is truly a masterpiece. Dickens has given the

    Great Expectations is truly a masterpiece. Dickens has given the reader the life of Pip, a poor boy of no real expectations until chance affords him the opportunity to become someone of means. Dickens has created a character of such great depth that I grew to love the man Pip. Pip’s growth, his ability to convey feeling and his own acceptance of weakness in himself and others touched my heart. Yes it is a slow read but don't be discouraged. It's a treasure.

    When I recommend the Nook to anyone I always give as one reason the classics. Reading the classics on a Nook is much easier with the flexibility to change the font and the small size of the Nook itself leaving the reader less overwhelmed.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2012

    Read the simple version

    I read the simplified version and it was okay. It seemed a little boring and i eally hated estella cae she was suc a brat because she (being an orphan) was taught by her grandma i think she was to hate all men. It does have a kittle twist when it comes to his benefacter though. Over all i probably wouldnt pay the money i would just rent it from the libray.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 15, 2012

    Read this book! =D

    I first read this book in the eighth grade, and, upon reading the first line, I feel in love. I have always loved reading, and Charles Dickens never fails to entertain. He creates characters so life-like and real that you feel like you have known them all you life. You can really identify with these characters that are so abstract and complicated, yet so simple and heart-warming. Pip is such a dynamic character,and you really feel for him as he falls in love for the first time and tries to live up to the Great Expectations set for him.
    I love it.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 9, 2011

    version- not good

    Although the STORY itself is a great classic, this free version has formatting problems that made it difficult for me to follow along, even as my daughter read aloud from a print copy. After a few pages, I went back online and paid 99 cents- and now can actually read the book!

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 21, 2011

    Truly Outstanding

    If you start reading this book and realize that there is a lot that could be cut out of it then you will probably enjoy it more. When I first started reading this book I couldn't believe how boring it was. Once I started getting into it, however, my opinion changed entirely. I didn't want to stop reading. Then there were some more dry chapters and I couldn't maintain interest. Then this book suddenly made me think I had been reading a mystery the whole time. It brought back details I didn't even think about. Everything came together and ended so well I could not believe how fantastic it was. I would highly recommend this book if you are willing to be bored through certain chapters.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 23, 2010

    Captivating

    There are so many good things about this book that I can hardly begin to describe it. From the dark, foreboding atmosphere of a graveyard, to a warm, comely English village to the bustling streets of London, Great Expectations contains vivid imagery that sucks you right into every scene, and a compelling narrative flows steadily through them.
    What I think sets this book apart from most others (as do all of Dickens' books, I have heard) is that whereas most authors intellectualize their stories, Dickens emphasizes on emotion, or rather uses emotion as a vehicle to carry his message.
    Dickens' novels have a common theme of social injustice, mainly against children, and this book's plot has a lot of depth and promotes timeless values such as forgiveness, sacrifice, not judging others, and paying your debts on time. A wonderful book for children, adults, and students, this increasingly unloving world could use more Dickens and less vampire novels.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 22, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    You cant beat Dick...Even on a bad day

    Not even going to write a real review im just going to list reasons why its is the best piece of Literature on God's green earth

    1. it is the best piece of literature on god's green earth
    2. it is the best piece of literature on god's green earth
    3. it is the best piece of literature on god's green earth

    Go buy it unless you are a total commy

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2009

    And I thought the Bible was difficult to read...

    I am only aobut half way through this book at this point. I am following the story but the language sometimes makes the story difficult to follow. I did appreciate the definitions at the bottom of the pages for words we do not use any more. I guess I would recommend reading it, it is a classic.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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