|Publisher:||Simon & Brown|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 2.24(d)|
About the Author
After a childhood blighted by poverty, commercial success came early to Charles Dickens (1812–70). By the age of 24, he was an international sensation whose new novels were eagerly anticipated. Two centuries later, Dickens' popularity endures as readers revel in the warm humanity and rollicking humor of his tales of self-discovery.
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
Read an Excerpt
LONDON. MICHAELMAS TERM LATELY over, and the Lord Chancellor sitting in Lincoln's Inn Hall. Implacable November weather. As much mud in the streets as if the waters had but newly retired from the face of the earth, and it would not be wonderful to meet a Megalosaurus, forty feet long or so, waddling like an elephantine lizard up Holborn Hill. Smoke lowering down from chimney-pots, making a soft black drizzle, with flakes of soot in it as big as full-grown snowflakes — gone into mourning, one might imagine, for the death of the sun. Dogs, undistinguishable in mire. Horses, scarcely better; splashed to their very blinkers. Foot passengers, jostling one another's umbrellas in a general infection of ill temper, and losing their foot-hold at street- corners, where tens of thousands of other foot passengers have been slipping and sliding since the day broke (if this day ever broke), adding new deposits to the crust upon crust of mud, sticking at those points tenaciously to the pavement, and accumulating at compound interest.
Fog everywhere. Fog up the river, where it flows among green aits and meadows; fog down the river, where it rolls defiled among the tiers of shipping and the waterside pollutions of a great (and dirty) city. Fog on the Essex marshes, fog on the Kentish heights. Fog creeping into the cabooses of collier-brigs; fog lying out on the yards and hovering in the rigging of great ships; fog drooping on the gunwales of barges and small boats. Fog in the eyes and throats of ancient Greenwich pensioners, wheezing by the firesides of their wards; fog in the stem and bowl of the afternoon pipe of the wrathful skipper, down in his close cabin; fog cruelly pinching the toes and fingers of his shivering little 'prentice boy on deck. Chance people on the bridges peeping over the parapets into a nether sky of fog, with fog all round them, as if they were up in a balloon and hanging in the misty clouds.
Gas looming through the fog in divers places in the streets, much as the sun may, from the spongey fields, be seen to loom by husbandman and ploughboy. Most of the shops lighted two hours before their time — as the gas seems to know, for it has a haggard and unwilling look.
The raw afternoon is rawest, and the dense fog is densest, and the muddy streets are muddiest near that leaden-headed old obstruction, appropriate ornament for the threshold of a leaden-headed old corporation, Temple Bar. And hard by Temple Bar, in Lincoln's Inn Hall, at the very heart of the fog, sits the Lord High Chancellor in his High Court of Chancery.
Never can there come fog too thick, never can there come mud and mire too deep, to assort with the groping and floundering condition which this High Court of Chancery, most pestilent of hoary sinners, holds this day in the sight of heaven and earth.
On such an afternoon, if ever, the Lord High Chancellor ought to be sitting here — as here he is — with a foggy glory round his head, softly fenced in with crimson cloth and curtains, addressed by a large advocate with great whiskers, a little voice, and an interminable brief, and outwardly directing his contemplation to the lantern in the roof, where he can see nothing but fog. On such an afternoon some score of members of the High Court of Chancery bar ought to be — as here they are — mistily engaged in one of the ten thousand stages of an endless cause, tripping one another up on slippery precedents, groping knee-deep in technicalities, running their goat-hair and horsehair warded heads against walls of words and making a pretence of equity with serious faces, as players might. On such an afternoon the various solicitors in the cause, some two or three of whom have inherited it from their fathers, who made a fortune by it, ought to be — as are they not? — ranged in a line, in a long matted well (but you might look in vain for truth at the bottom of it) between the registrar's red table and the silk gowns, with bills, cross- bills, answers, rejoinders, injunctions, affidavits, issues, references to masters, masters' reports, mountains of costly nonsense, piled before them. Well may the court be dim, with wasting candles here and there; well may the fog hang heavy in it, as if it would never get out; well may the stained-glass windows lose their colour and admit no light of day into the place; well may the uninitiated from the streets, who peep in through the glass panes in the door, be deterred from entrance by its owlish aspect and by the drawl, languidly echoing to the roof from the padded dais where the Lord High Chancellor looks into the lantern that has no light in it and where the attendant wigs are all stuck in a fog-bank! This is the Court of Chancery, which has its decaying houses and its blighted lands in every shire, which has its worn-out lunatic in every madhouse and its dead in every churchyard, which has its ruined suitor with his slipshod heels and threadbare dress borrowing and begging through the round of every man's acquaintance, which gives to monied might the means abundantly of wearying out the right, which so exhausts finances, patience, courage, hope, so overthrows the brain and breaks the heart, that there is not an honourable man among its practitioners who would not give — who does not often give — the warning, "Suffer any wrong that can be done you rather than come here!"
Who happen to be in the Lord Chancellor's court this murky afternoon besides the Lord Chancellor, the counsel in the cause, two or three counsel who are never in any cause, and the well of solicitors before mentioned? There is the registrar below the judge, in wig and gown; and there are two or three maces, or petty-bags, or privy purses, or whatever they may be, in legal court suits. These are all yawning, for no crumb of amusement ever falls from Jarndyce and Jarndyce (the cause in hand), which was squeezed dry years upon years ago. The short-hand writers, the reporters of the court, and the reporters of the newspapers invariably decamp with the rest of the regulars when Jarndyce and Jarndyce comes on. Their places are a blank. Standing on a seat at the side of the hall, the better to peer into the curtained sanctuary, is a little mad old woman in a squeezed bonnet who is always in court, from its sitting to its rising, and always expecting some incomprehensible judgment to be given in her favour. Some say she really is, or was, a party to a suit, but no one knows for certain because no one cares. She carries some small litter in a reticule which she calls her documents, principally consisting of paper matches and dry lavender. A sallow prisoner has come up, in custody, for the half-dozenth time to make a personal application "to purge himself of his contempt," which, being a solitary surviving executor who has fallen into a state of conglomeration about accounts of which it is not pretended that he had ever any knowledge, he is not at all likely ever to do. In the meantime his prospects in life are ended. Another ruined suitor, who periodically appears from Shropshire and breaks out into efforts to address the Chancellor at the close of the day's business and who can by no means be made to understand that the Chancellor is legally ignorant of his existence after making it desolate for a quarter of a century, plants himself in a good place and keeps an eye on the judge, ready to call out "My Lord!" in a voice of sonorous complaint on the instant of his rising. A few lawyers' clerks and others who know this suitor by sight linger on the chance of his furnishing some fun and enlivening the dismal weather a little.
Jarndyce and Jarndyce drones on. This scarecrow of a suit has, in course of time, become so complicated that no man alive knows what it means. The parties to it understand it least, but it has been observed that no two Chancery lawyers can talk about it for five minutes without coming to a total disagreement as to all the premises. Innumerable children have been born into the cause; innumerable young people have married into it; innumerable old people have died out of it. Scores of persons have deliriously found themselves made parties in Jarndyce and Jarndyce without knowing how or why; whole families have inherited legendary hatreds with the suit. The little plaintiff or defendant who was promised a new rocking-horse when Jarndyce and Jarndyce should be settled has grown up, possessed himself of a real horse, and trotted away into the other world. Fair wards of court have faded into mothers and grandmothers; a long procession of Chancellors has come in and gone out; the legion of bills in the suit have been transformed into mere bills of mortality; there are not three Jarndyces left upon the earth perhaps since old Tom Jarndyce in despair blew his brains out at a coffee-house in Chancery Lane; but Jarndyce and Jarndyce still drags its dreary length before the court, perennially hopeless.
Jarndyce and Jarndyce has passed into a joke. That is the only good that has ever come of it. It has been death to many, but it is a joke in the profession. Every master in Chancery has had a reference out of it. Every Chancellor was "in it," for somebody or other, when he was counsel at the bar. Good things have been said about it by blue-nosed, bulbous-shoed old benchers in select port-wine committee after dinner in hall. Articled clerks have been in the habit of fleshing their legal wit upon it. The last Lord Chancellor handled it neatly, when, correcting Mr. Blowers, the eminent silk gown who said that such a thing might happen when the sky rained potatoes, he observed, "or when we get through Jarndyce and Jarndyce, Mr. Blowers" — a pleasantry that particularly tickled the maces, bags, and purses.
How many people out of the suit Jarndyce and Jarndyce has stretched forth its unwholesome hand to spoil and corrupt would be a very wide question. From the master upon whose impaling files reams of dusty warrants in Jarndyce and Jarndyce have grimly writhed into many shapes, down to the copying-clerk in the Six Clerks' Office who has copied his tens of thousands of Chancery folio-pages under that eternal heading, no man's nature has been made better by it. In trickery, evasion, procrastination, spoliation, botheration, under false pretences of all sorts, there are influences that can never come to good. The very solicitors' boys who have kept the wretched suitors at bay, by protesting time out of mind that Mr. Chizzle, Mizzle, or otherwise was particularly engaged and had appointments until dinner, may have got an extra moral twist and shuffle into themselves out of Jarndyce and Jarndyce. The receiver in the cause has acquired a goodly sum of money by it but has acquired too a distrust of his own mother and a contempt for his own kind. Chizzle, Mizzle, and otherwise have lapsed into a habit of vaguely promising themselves that they will look into that outstanding little matter and see what can be done for Drizzle — who was not well used — when Jarndyce and Jarndyce shall be got out of the office. Shirking and sharking in all their many varieties have been sown broadcast by the ill-fated cause; and even those who have contemplated its history from the outermost circle of such evil have been insensibly tempted into a loose way of letting bad things alone to take their own bad course, and a loose belief that if the world go wrong it was in some off-hand manner never meant to go right.
Thus, in the midst of the mud and at the heart of the fog, sits the Lord High Chancellor in his High Court of Chancery.
"Mr. Tangle," says the Lord High Chancellor, latterly something restless under the eloquence of that learned gentleman.
"Mlud," says Mr. Tangle. Mr. Tangle knows more of Jarndyce and Jarndyce than anybody. He is famous for it — supposed never to have read anything else since he left school.
"Have you nearly concluded your argument?"
"Mlud, no — variety of points — feel it my duty tsubmit — ludship," is the reply that slides out of Mr. Tangle.
"Several members of the bar are still to be heard, I believe?" says the Chancellor with a slight smile.
Eighteen of Mr. Tangle's learned friends, each armed with a little summary of eighteen hundred sheets, bob up like eighteen hammers in a pianoforte, make eighteen bows, and drop into their eighteen places of obscurity.
"We will proceed with the hearing on Wednesday fortnight," says the Chancellor. For the question at issue is only a question of costs, a mere bud on the forest tree of the parent suit, and really will come to a settlement one of these days.
The Chancellor rises; the bar rises; the prisoner is brought forward in a hurry; the man from Shropshire cries, "My lord!" Maces, bags, and purses indignantly proclaim silence and frown at the man from Shropshire.
"In reference," proceeds the Chancellor, still on Jarndyce and Jarndyce, "to the young girl —"
"Begludship's pardon — boy," says Mr. Tangle prematurely. "In reference," proceeds the Chancellor with extra distinctness, "to the young girl and boy, the two young people" — Mr. Tangle crushed — "whom I directed to be in attendance to-day and who are now in my private room, I will see them and satisfy myself as to the expediency of making the order for their residing with their uncle."
Mr. Tangle on his legs again. "Begludship's pardon — dead."
"With their" — Chancellor looking through his double eye- glass at the papers on his desk — "grandfather."
"Begludship's pardon — victim of rash action — brains."
Suddenly a very little counsel with a terrific bass voice arises, fully inflated, in the back settlements of the fog, and says, "Will your lordship allow me? I appear for him. He is a cousin, several times removed. I am not at the moment prepared to inform the court in what exact remove he is a cousin, but he IS a cousin."
Leaving this address (delivered like a sepulchral message) ringing in the rafters of the roof, the very little counsel drops, and the fog knows him no more. Everybody looks for him. Nobody can see him.
"I will speak with both the young people," says the Chancellor anew, "and satisfy myself on the subject of their residing with their cousin. I will mention the matter to-morrow morning when I take my seat."
The Chancellor is about to bow to the bar when the prisoner is presented. Nothing can possibly come of the prisoner's conglomeration but his being sent back to prison, which is soon done. The man from Shropshire ventures another remonstrative "My lord!" but the Chancellor, being aware of him, has dexterously vanished. Everybody else quickly vanishes too. A battery of blue bags is loaded with heavy charges of papers and carried off by clerks; the little mad old woman marches off with her documents; the empty court is locked up. If all the injustice it has committed and all the misery it has caused could only be locked up with it, and the whole burnt away in a great funeral pyre — why so much the better for other parties than the parties in Jarndyce and Jarndyce!
IT IS BUT A glimpse of the world of fashion that we want on this same miry afternoon. It is not so unlike the Court of Chancery but that we may pass from the one scene to the other, as the crow flies. Both the world of fashion and the Court of Chancery are things of precedent and usage: oversleeping Rip Van Winkles who have played at strange games through a deal of thundery weather; sleeping beauties whom the knight will wake one day, when all the stopped spits in the kitchen shall begin to turn prodigiously!
It is not a large world. Relatively even to this world of ours, which has its limits too (as your Highness shall find when you have made the tour of it and are come to the brink of the void beyond), it is a very little speck. There is much good in it; there are many good and true people in it; it has its appointed place. But the evil of it is that it is a world wrapped up in too much jeweller's cotton and fine wool, and cannot hear the rushing of the larger worlds, and cannot see them as they circle round the sun. It is a deadened world, and its growth is sometimes unhealthy for want of air.
Excerpted from "Bleak House"
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Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
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Table of Contents
I. In Chancery
II. In Fashion
III. A Progress
IV. Telescopic Philanthropy
V. A Morning Adventure
VI. Quite at Home
VII. The Ghost's Walk
VIII. Covering a Multitude of Sins
IX. Signs and Tokens
X. The Law-Writer
XI. Our Dear Brother
XII. On the Watch
XIII. Esther's Narrative
XV. Bell Yard
XVII. Esther's Narrative
XVIII. Lady Dedlock
XIX. Moving On
XX. A New Lodger
XXI. The Smallweed Family
XXII. Mr. Bucket
XXIII. Esther's Narrative
XXIV. An Appeal Case
XXV. Mrs. Snagsby Sees It All
XXVII. More Old Soldiers Than One
XXVIII. The Ironmaster
XXIX. The Young Man
XXX. Esther's Narrative
XXXI. Nurse and Patient
XXXII. The Appointed Time
XXXIV. A Turn of the Screw
XXXV. Esther's Narrative
XXXVI. Chesney Wold
XXXVII. Jarndyce and Jarndyce
XXXVIII. A Struggle
XXXIX. Attorney and Client
XL. National and Domestic
XLI. In Mr. Tulkinghorn's Room
XLII. In Mr. Tulkinghorn's Chambers
XLIII. Esther's Narrative
XLIV. The Letter and the Answer
XLV. In Trust
XLVI. Stop Him!
XLVII. Jo's Will
XLVIII. Closing In
XLIX. Dutiful Friendship
L. Esther's Narrative
LIII. The Track
LIV. Springing a Mine
LVII. Esther's Narrative
LVIII. A Wintry Day and Night
LIX. Esther's Narrative
LXI. A Discovery
LXII. Another Discovery
LXIII. Steel and Iron
LXIV. Esther's Narrative
LXV. Beginning the World
LXVI. Down in Lincolnshire
LXVII. The Close of Esther's Narrative
Reading Group Guide
1. 1. Critics have long regarded Bleak House as Dickens’s most formally complex novel, since it blends together a number of different genres: detective fiction, romance, melodrama, satire. Compare the way the novel conforms to each of these genres. Do you consider Bleak House more a mystery than a satire, or vice versa? In what ways does the novel transcend these categories altogether?
2. 2. Examine Dickens’s use of irony in Bleak House. Which characters find themselves in ironic moments or situations? How might we read the Court of Chancery’s obstruction of justice as the supreme irony of the book?
3. 3. Consider the narrator’s remark in Chapter XXXIX that “The one great principle of the English law is, to make business for itself.” How, precisely, does Chancery “make business for itself”? What instruments, rituals, and/or actors does it employ to create a great chain of inefficiency?
4. 4. Discuss Dickens’s representation of charity in Bleak House. Are philanthropists generally portrayed in a favorable light? You might compare the work of Mrs. Jellyby, Mrs. Pardiggle, and Mr. Quale with the quieter charitable work of Esther. What type of charity do you think Dickens values?
5. 5. Do you think Bleak House is successful in its attempt to criticize the English legal system? If so, how do you reconcile the novel’s happy ending with Dickens’s critique?
6. 6. Examine Dickens’s use of mud and pollution imagery throughout Bleak House. What different meanings do images of mud, dirt, disease attach themselves to? Which characters become closely identified with pollution?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.
Dickens is terrible with most of his female characters, but the passion of his social commentary and the glorious physical descriptions (the fog to begin the book is marvelous) are not found in many other writers. Bleak House is often frustratingly bad (Skimpole is horrible, and takes up pages and pages) but when it's good, it's great.
Ok. So, this is good. But it is long and it takes a LONG time to get going. And it's pretty archaic in its treatment of point of view (read: everyone has a point of view, even the houses). But it's worth it in the end. And it's super interesting to see what people were willing to go through for a marriage plot and a legal intrigue back in the day. Today, I think it would be edited down to just Esther's point of view and would be 200 pages...but that would be a shame, no?
Difficult to get into at first due to switching narrators/verb tenses and a slow start to the plot, "Bleak House" ultimately proves rewarding to those who are willing to search out and examine the novel's underlying structure of analogy, comparison, and linkage. This is an extremely complex work, both in technique and in its conceptual underpinnings. For the reader who is willing to put work into deciphering the text, and who loves Dickens' minor characters, this will be a beloved book. The reader looking for a light, superficial read will most likely be frustrated and irritated.
Esther is a character to treasure. The recent BBC adaptation does the book justice - but as always there is more in the book than can appear on the small screen. Dickens view of the courts holds true to some extent right up to the current day - everyone loses except the lawyers.
Long but fun, and not as bleak as expected. There's as usual a massive cast, but there's all intertwined eventually, so it's worthwhile to pay attention to them. The story is more intriguing as I work in the legal field, so I was able to make comparisons, but you don't need legal expertise to get the story. I could read Smallweed's insulting tirades to his "brimstone chatterer" of a wife over and over again! Some issues resolved themselves in predictably unrealistic ways, and there were a good deal of mysterious deaths (spontaneous combustion being the most fascinating and crazy). I didn't know Dickens was a pioneer in detective fiction until I saw his handling of Inspector Bucket. I would say this is an essential Dickens, if you are willing to invest the time.
My favorite Dickens.It was given to me as a gift when I was involved in an epic and long-lived legal battle, which undoubtedly biased my opinion. Nonetheless, it is a very entertaining read.
One of my favorite Charles Dickens novels - I have a deep love for Dickens and I like almost all of his novels, but Bleak House ranks in the top three (along with A Tale of Two Cities and Our Mutual Friend). Dickens is the ultimate master of plot (since he wrote in serial format, each chapter has its own climax and denouement - he had to keep readers hooked!). His main characters are deep, complex and interesting; his side characters are funny, memorable, and marvelous. Villains are not wholly villainous, but have a spark of hope; likewise, the good characters are challenged to confront the darker elements of their personalities - desires, greed, illicit loves. However, the very best thing about reading Dickens - you know that you will leave him behind with a renewed hope in humanity, because the better parts of mankind will triumph in the end.
February 7th 2012Dear Mr Dickens,Thank you for the submission of your manuscript 'Bleak House' to Simian and Shyster, America's Biggest and Best Books¿. We are interested in your book, but feel that substantial changes will need to be made to make it fit our house style and to make it marketable. I list these changes below.1. The title. This is puzzling. I don't think readers will see the relevance of the title to the rest of the text. Also, it is not grammatically correct, as it should be 'The Bleak House'. Popular titles for novels at the moment are rather longer and say a little bit more about the book. Suggestions based on titles which have proved popular recently might include 'Very Dirty and Terribly Important', or 'The Girl who Wondered Who She Was'. Please think about it.2. The double narrative. I strongly recommend that you split these into two separate books. It should be quite easy to separate the two narratives, one of our interns could do it. Perhaps the Esther narrative could be published first, and then the other narrative later, as a second book? This would allow us to maximize our investment. 3. The prose style is far too overwrought and will not be popular with readers. To help you understand what I mean, I have notated the opening paragraph with suggestions for changes.LONDON. We've got a problem right here, as many of our readers will simply not know who or what or where London is. We suggest changing this to 'Milwaukee', as market research shows that this city is representative of our target audience.Michaelmas Term lately overSimilarly, our readers will be asking, 'what is Michaelmas?' And 'term' is far too British. We suggest changing this to 'fall semester'.and the Lord Chancellor sitting in Lincoln¿s Inn Hall.Again, simply too British. We suggest changing this to an American position of equivalence. Perhaps 'City Council Member'. Also, many readers will take exception to the association of Lincoln with an inn. Perhaps change this to the name of a President who is a bit more innocuous and likely to have been forgotten by most readers: Carter, perhaps?Implacable November weather. Can you change 'implacable'? I'm not sure our readers will know this word. Two syllable words maximum are best, as has been shown by market research many times. (If you hit F6 on your keyboard, you get a really useful thesaurus you can use to choose words more likely to be familiar to readers)As much mud in the streets as if the waters had Here at Simian and Shyster we pride ourselves on keeping metaphors out of our writers' work. Now, as this whole passage is one extended metaphor, getting rid of it will mean extensive rewriting. Mmm. In fact, come to think of it, the whole book is an extended metaphor isn't it? I'll check with our marketing department about how to proceed on this, and get back to you.but newly retired from the face of the earth,'but newly retired' is not being accepted by my grammar checker, it suggests 'only recently retired'. Are you ok with that?and it would not be wonderfulReaders will not understand this. Avoid this kind of implied negatives. Suggest: 'and it would be cool' to meet a Megalosaurus, 'Megalosaurus' is simply far too long. Market research shows that the most popular pet in the Milwaukee area is a dog, and this also ties in with our Frequent Word Recognition Program ¿, which has been very helpful in keeping more than 50% of our books in the NYT Bestseller list for longer than one week, and which also suggests 'dog' here. forty feet long or so, waddling like an elephantine lizard Oh dear, this is getting into a mixed metaphor isn't it. I suggest scrapping this altogether. Do try to keep your sentences as short as possible. Readers like to read short things. up Holborn Hill. 'up' is far too strenuous. Market research shows that depictions of exertion or exercise fare badly with the Midwestern market
This is a complex story about characters caught in Jarndyce and Jarndyce, a chancery case regarding a will of someone who died long ago. Some of his characters include Esther whose past is a shadow and who is a gentle and loving woman; John Jarndyce is a benefactor of many who is also a gentle and caring soul; Lady Dedlock is trying to hide an old secret; and Richard Carstone becomes obsessed with the Jarndyce case. I¿ve only listed a smattering of the characters included in this book. In fact, I recommend that anyone reading it, keep a list of both characters and locations in order to keep all of them straight. The book starts slowly as Dickens introduces us to the Chancery Court and then the Dedlock¿s, but within a few chapters I found that it picked up speed as I got to know the characters better. Dickens is a marvelous author and I marvel at his way of weaving together disparate characters that, at first look, seem to have no relationship to one another, but who often have long, unknown, to them, histories that are intertwined. I am also fond of his use of characters to comment on the social mores of his time. However, I really struggled with some passages and during these would tell myself to ¿just keep reading¿ until I was through them. I noticed that these sections often described a place, individual or thing and seemed to just go on too long for my attention. Nevertheless, I am a Dickens fan and recommend this book.
fiction, 1800's life, classic, Dickens, London, 19th century literature, Charles Dickens, Bleak House, work house, river pollution, industrial revolution, intrigue
Many Dickens are quite similar - the moral poor, the idle and dissapate rich who go unpunished, and the conscientious rich, who don't. You'd think, after reading enough, the details wouldn't matter much.But they do, to me. Bleak House follows a similar pattern - the overall story arc is about the toll exacted by probating a will through Chancery - the dashed hopes, the destroyed lives, the reprehensible money-grubbing of lawyers, the tolls of poverty. But it is also a story about goodness of heart, and a surprisingly touching and true love story. Our protagonist, Esther Summerson, is too good to be true, really - so self-effacing and noble, a modern mind finds her repressed and unbelievable. And yet, the actions of others in response to her are touching (whatever the feminist critiques of this set up might be).I found Bleak House charming, and only occasionally tedious.
One of the great man's finest novels. Enough said - read it!
This is one of absolute favorite books of all time, although I oscillate between this and Dombey & Son as to which is the best Dickens novel. Like all of Dickens' novels, there are deep and varied characters as well as a complex plot. As always with Dickens, plot is a device to further reveal the depths of his characters. Some may complain about the length of this book, but it would have been possible to accompany the many characters on their journeys in fewer pages. I'm by no means an expert on narrative devices or literary theory, but I appreciate the balance provided by Esther's sweet yet wise voice in contrast with the third person narrative that employs satirical humor to deeply probe the true nature of his characters. Esther shows the reader the best side of humanity, while the third person narrative voice displays the vices, follies, and sins of humanity with a bitter humor.
This is one of my favorite stories--of Dickens' and ever. I never fail to get absorbed by these characters even though this might be the biggest load of sentimental goo ever to grace the English language. It's still fun to read. And, if you haven't seen it, the BBC film that came out last year is pretty good, too.
A must read for Dickens lovers. In this story of Pip, Dickens makes yet another scathing social commentary on English life and "proper" behavior. Also excoriates the legal system, the Church, and the childcare welfare system of 19th Century England.
loved it, also loved the Masterpiece Theater miniseries of it
I read this book in 1977 in a Victorian literature class, and enjoyed it, but I don't think I fully understood it until I worked in a county law library a few years later. I actually met people who had been driven insane by their relationship with the law courts. Of course there is much more to this book, as with all of Dickens. Melodrama, romance, mystery -- he has it all, and comedy too. Although I have yet to read all of Dickens, this is my favorite so far.
One of the best books I've ever read, and my favorite Dickens. With his gift for detail and small characters that would never even make it into other novels, this sprawling tale is perfectly suited to his talents.
Everyone always told me I'd hate Dickens when I read him. Actually, I rather like him. While sometimes the amount of detail, and the number of minor-but-still-CRUCIAL characters was a little irksome, the book itself was wonderful. Note: If you read, you WILL want to keep paper handy. It's easier to just write down all the characters than to try and remember them. And you WILL want to write down EVERY CHARACTER. 8/10
OK, let's be honest. As much as I love Dickens, I have to admit he wrote a lot of maudlin junk. This book is probably one of his worst. The heroine, Esther, is the most obnoxious, mealy-mouthed grateful little orphan since Jane Austen's Fanny Price. Dickens can't seem to write realistic, compelling young women -- they are always tragic waifs, or legless angels. This is a shame, because he writes older women so well. The book's satirical look at the world of lawsuits is fantastic, and almost, but not quite, makes up for Esther's cloying sweetness.
All-round wonderful. A brilliant critique of the legal system, a ripping yarn of a plot, spontaneous human combustion: this has it all.
This is the first book by Dickens I've tried, and it contains all the good and bad things I've heard about him.The most enjoyable thing about the book is the immense cast of characters. One cannot help but be awed by Dickens' skill in this regard. There must be about 50 characters, each of whom has a distinct personality and many of whom are identifiable by their speech patterns alone. Despite the enormous cast of characters I only got them confused once or twice. I found it enjoyable to think, My God, what an imagination this man must have had to create this little universe!But all of Dickens' downfalls are present here. The heroine is a terribly passive, "pure," one-dimensional Victorian orphan. And there is plenty of schmaltzy melodrama. The novel contains a couple death scenes which are laughable and ridiculous.I had no trouble getting into it early on (the first couple chapters are phenomenal). That said, I could never read more than 50 or 60 pages in one sitting.Everyone should try Dickens at least once, and I think that despite its flaws this is a very enjoyable read.