The Old Curiosity Shop

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Overview

A bestseller that gripped the nation when it was first published, The Old Curiosity Shop is a novel of sharp contrasts: of life and death, youth and age, desire and innocence, humour and villainy.

For the character of Little Nell, the beautiful child thrown into a shadowy, terrifying world, Dickens drew on a tragedy in his own life, the death at the age of seventeen of his sister-in-law Mary Hogarth. Five years later he wrote, 'the desire to be buried next her is as strong upon ...

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The Old Curiosity Shop (Illustrated)

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Overview

A bestseller that gripped the nation when it was first published, The Old Curiosity Shop is a novel of sharp contrasts: of life and death, youth and age, desire and innocence, humour and villainy.

For the character of Little Nell, the beautiful child thrown into a shadowy, terrifying world, Dickens drew on a tragedy in his own life, the death at the age of seventeen of his sister-in-law Mary Hogarth. Five years later he wrote, 'the desire to be buried next her is as strong upon me now ... and I know (for I don't think there ever was love like that I bear her) that it will never diminish.'

The sorrows of Nell and her grandfather are offset by Dickens's creation of a dazzling contemporary world inhabited by some of his most brilliantly drawn characters -- the eloquent ne'er-do-well Dick Swiveller; the hungry maid known as the 'Marchioness'; the mannish lawyer Sally Brass; Quilp's brow-beaten mother-in-law, and Quilp himself, the lustful, vengeful dwarf, whose demonic energy makes a vivid counterpoint to Nell's purity.

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 7-12-Dickens story of contrasts: youth and old age, beauty and deformity, freedom and restraint.
Library Journal
Naxos adds to its collection of some 20 abridged and unabridged Dickens recordings this novel following the lives of orphan Nell Trent and her loving grandfather, both residents of The Old Curiosity Shop in London. Though wildly popular when first published in the early 1840s, this is not among Dickens's best works—it is short on truly memorable characters and flawed by sloppy blending of its complex story lines. Still, narrator Anton Lesser's (Great Expectations) strong performance helps to compensate for these weaknesses. Curiosity Shop is not good as an introduction to the author, but those familiar with his oeuvre will appreciate the added value Lesser's evocative narration brings to the audio edition of this work. [An abridged alternate recording of this title, read by Paul Scofield, is available from Phoenix Audio.—Ed.]—R. Kent Rasmussen, Thousand Oaks, CA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780192829245
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 6/28/1998
  • Series: Oxford World's Classics Series
  • Edition number: 7600
  • Pages: 672
  • Lexile: 1320L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 7.50 (w) x 5.10 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens (1812–1870) is considered one of the English language's greatest writers. Peter Ackroyd’s biography Dickens was published in 1990 to enormous critical acclaim. His other titles include London: A Biography, Poe: A Life Cut Short, Shakespeare: The Biography, and Thames: The Biography.

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

Table of Contents

A Dickens Chronology vii
Introduction xi
Further reading xxix
A Note on the Text xxxi
The Old Curiosity Shop 1
Notes 557
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 25 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(10)

4 Star

(11)

3 Star

(2)

2 Star

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1 Star

(2)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 25 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 20, 2003

    What the Dickens is up with Dickens?

    Ah, Dickens. If only we could spend our days only with you. He truly is The Inimitable. I won't lie to you, folks. This book isn't perfect. If you haven't read David Copperfield, Great Expectations or Oliver Twist (the three i'd read before this one) - i'd go for one of those. Any Dickens novel, though, if its your first, will be a remarkable experience. His devotion to CHARACTER, and PLOT (don't know how to use italics, so capitals will do for emphasis), as opposed to getting bogged down in long dissertations on what he thinks the story's about, like many Victorians did - is incredible. He did so much for creating the NOVEL as we know it today. When you pick up Old Curiosity Shop, or another one, just try and have fun. Settle back in a nice comfortable chair, and go back in time to Victorian England, and walk through the streets with these remarkable characters, characters that you WILL remember after you've turned the final page. And there are memorable characters in this one. Curiosity Shop has copped a lot of flack in recent years on charges of sentimentality. My answer to that is a shrug. The book's also uneven, and i should warn you that its not actually written in the first person - you lose the narrator you begin with after the first few chapters - which i found slightly deceptive. But don't think of it in analytical terms, think of it as a young Dickens, only twenty five, having only published Pickwick Papers, Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickelebey, and being the hottest new thing in Victorian England. People wait on streetcorners, howling for the next number of Dickens's journals, which carry monthly installments of his novels. But i can't possibly reproduce, and i won't try, the sights sounds and smells of his stories, which if you sit down with them in a quiet place for long enough, you become part of. The Old Curiosity Shop is really about Nell, a little girl, a pure soul, who's surrounded by a bunch of lunatics! Some of the funny, some of them terrifying. What kept Victorians buying the numbers, i think, was wanting to know what happens to Nell in this horrible atmosphere, but i found myself in sheer delight over the characters - which is the most important thing i ask of a novel.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2012

    Great

    This book is great if u r doing a bio report for 5thgrade. It is a fun book filled with sroreis sad and happy. I want u 2 read this book.

    2 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 2, 2004

    You'll be glad you read it or, better yet, listened

    Think quirky carnival. It's one of his earlier works but there are many moments of sophisticated brilliance: Quilp, the most supernatural of villians, a real psychopath; Samson and Sally Brass, the sleaziest lawyer/paralegal; Dick Swiveler (I'm not kidding), the original antihero you will learn to love, are all terrific. It's a little slow at times, but the good stuff makes it all worthwhile. It's got dancing dogs, wax museums, compulsive gambling, victorian gadgets, and best of all, he paints people with vivid descriptions, a Rembrandt of the pen. He has wonderful insight into human character. Spring for the audio if you can--Dickens used to do readings for money and was a great impersonator--could do all the voices--so its easier for him to come alive in the audio edition.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2014

    Too poorly OCR'd to be viable

    This book shoukd get a negative stars. Why offer it when it can't be read?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2012

    I would get it

    I would get it ingnore the one about dont waste money on it but it rellay is a good book (novel mabe)

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 10, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Monsters Do Exist

    Dickens knew that the monsters of fairy tales really do exist in life. He often places an innocent child into the midst of monsters, all disguised of course as fathers and mothers, sisters, brothers, aunts and uncles, judges, lawyers, and without a doubt one of the scariest of them all, schoolmasters. In The Old Curiosity Shop, He gives us the story of Little Nell, orphaned, trapped in poverty, and in the care of one of the book's biggest monsters, her grandfather. If you have never read a Dickens novel, I recommend that you start elsewhere, like Great Expectations. If you like starting at the top, then Bleak House. But if you like Dickens and are looking for more, you'll love this book. The great monsters are here, such as Quilp the sexy dwarf. The classic confused , absurd combinations of man and beast are here, such as Dick Swiveler, the priceless minute descriptions of things that is particular to Dickens' genius are here. If you love Dickens, you'll love this book.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 30, 2009

    HAVE NOT HAD A CHANCE TO READ THIS YET

    i HAVE NOT HAD A CHANCE TO READ THIS YET, BUT WILL DO SO IN THE NEXT FEW MONTHS. THEN WILL BE ABLE TO GIVE A FAIR REVIEW

    0 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 16, 2009

    I am a huge fan of Charles Dickens. I enjoyed reading this book very much.

    I am a huge fan of Charles Dickens. As I build my library, Charles Dickens is a writer that I intend to collect and read all of the novels that he has written during his prolific writing career.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted September 12, 2009

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    Posted August 10, 2010

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    Posted January 31, 2009

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    Posted April 20, 2012

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    Posted February 23, 2011

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