David Copperfield (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

David Copperfield (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)


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David Copperfield (Barnes & Noble Classics Series) by Charles Dickens, Radhika Jones

David Copperfield, 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. Dickens’s favorite of all his novels, David Copperfield is the story of a boy who loses both parents at an early age, and who escapes the torture of working for his pitiless stepfather to make something of himself and, with any luck, find true happiness.

David Copperfield features an unforgettable gallery of characters, including David’s cruel stepfather Mr. Murdstone, the unctuous Uriah Heep, the amiable Mr. Micawber, whom Dickens based on his father, and Dora Spenglow, whom David marries and calls his “child-wife.” Written in the first person, David Copperfield is perhaps the most autobiographical of Dickens’s fictions. This new edition includes commentaries, discussion questions, and Phiz’s original illustrations. Features the original illustrations by Phiz.

Radhika Jones is the managing editor of Grand Street magazine, a freelance writer, and a Ph.D. candidate in English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. Jones also wrote the introduction and notes for the Barnes & Noble Classics edition of Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781593080631
Publisher: Barnes & Noble
Publication date: 12/01/2003
Series: Barnes & Noble Classics Series
Pages: 768
Sales rank: 27,531
Product dimensions: 5.18(w) x 8.00(h) x 1.54(d)

About 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.

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


Home-schooling; attended Dame School at Chatham briefly and Wellington

Read an Excerpt

From Radhika Jones's Introduction to David Copperfield

It is one of the provocative complexities of the Victorian novel that while it was instrumental in creating a mass audience for literature, making reading a genuinely collective activity, it could still maintain the illusion of personal intimacy—if only through such devices as the singular direct address "Dear Reader." Dickens did not only publish his work serially, as did most novelists at the time; he actually wrote serially—that is, he composed his novels section by section according to the specifications of the periodical publishing them. This process allowed for changes midstream, sometimes in reply to requests or complaints from readers. In David Copperfield, Dickens is known to have reworked the role of the dwarf manicurist Miss Mowcher, who is introduced as an aider and abettor of young men engaged in seduction, after a letter he received from a woman with whom he had been briefly acquainted, Mrs. Jane Seymour Hill. Mrs. Hill, a dwarf herself, recognized her appearance in the character and argued that her physical deformities were being manipulated into ethical shortcomings. Dickens wrote back to assure her that his characters were always composites and that no harm was meant, but his haste to make amends confirms that at least part of her accusation struck a chord. When Miss Mowcher reappears in the plot, not only is her reputation cleared, but she voices the very maxim that Mrs. Hill had communicated to Dickens—that one must not confuse disfigurement of the body with disfigurement of the soul.

Serial composition also had the potential to bring on the occasional panic attack, for while the public was occupied in wondering what would happen to Little Em'ly, the Micawbers, and Tommy Traddles, their creator could conceivably be wondering the same thing. Charles Kent, in his 1872 commemoration of Dickens's public performances, recalls the admission of one such moment as related by Dickens with "a vivid sense still upon him of mingled enjoyment and dismay":

Somewhere about the middle of the serial publication of David Copperfield, happening to be out of writing-paper, he sallied forth one morning to get a fresh supply at the stationer's. He was living then in his favourite haunt, at Fort House, in Broadstairs. As he was about to enter the stationer's shop, with the intention of buying the needful writing-paper, for the purpose of returning home with it, and at once setting to work upon his next number, not one word of which was yet written, he stood aside for a moment at the threshold to allow a lady to pass in before him. . . . The next instant he had overheard this strange lady asking the person behind the counter for the new green number. When it was handed to her, "Oh, this," said she, "I have read. I want the next one." The next one she was thereupon told would be out by the end of the month. "Listening to this, unrecognised," he added, in conclusion, "knowing the purpose for which I was there, and remembering that not one word of the number she was asking for was yet written, for the first and only time in my life, I felt—frightened!" (Kent, Charles Dickens as a Reader, pp. 45-46). Many of his novels, particularly the later ones, required meticulously plotting in advance, but David Copperfield unfolds relatively simply—perhaps because it relied in part on events of Dickens's own experience, with which he was naturally familiar, but also because its first-person voice dictates a more restricted plot than an omniscient third-person narrator, capable of exposing connections and coincidences among an extensive web of characters, could provide. In his next novel, Bleak House, Dickens would combine these approaches in two distinct narrative strands; the result is a structurally complex work whose denouement links an aristocrat with the lowliest of street-sweepers and touches on every social class in between. But the world of David Copperfield, with the exception of the scene of David's birth (the facts of which he relays on good authority of eyewitnesses), is limited to David's own recollections of events in which he plays a part, and the fabric of society is likewise limited to David's personal acquaintance.

In form David Copperfield is a bildungsroman, a novel that traces the moral and intellectual development of its hero in his or her progress toward adulthood. (Goethe's Wilhelm Meister and other Romantic-era German novels are credited as giving rise to this tradition, hence the German root bildung, or "formation.") But the question of how such development is defined—what constitutes growth, so to speak, and how it is measured—differs widely from author to author and from work to work. In Copperfield, the formation of David's character has far less to do with his acquiring a profession or a fortune than it does with his learning to love responsibly and prudently. The fame and wealth he gains by his pen is a pleasant sidebar, but the real struggle in David's plot is reserved for finding a suitable mate. Toward this goal, David spends much of his youth making an informal study of female prototypes, a parade of women who pass through his life, each with her own lesson to impart. There are the women who fall, giving in to temptation, lust, and love over duty. Then there are the women who, often against our expectations, rise to the occasion—Mrs. Gummidge, who becomes a prop for Mr. Peggotty when tragedy strikes his family, and on a much larger scale, David's great aunt, the formidable Betsey Trotwood, who sets David on a promising path toward adulthood.

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David Copperfield 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 163 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
So often people express reluctance to take on the great literature of the past because of the feeling that it's a little too much like taking medicine. 'I know that reading this 'classic' is good for me because it's a classic, or so I'm told.' This seems to dissuade many readers from approaching works such as David Copperfield. This summer I have read four Dicken's classics, Bleak House, A Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations and Copperfield. Copperfield will reward any modern reader with its kaleidoscope of Victorian England, rich with humor and memorable characters. Allow yourself to become lost in the memories of this most famous of fictional autobiographers. The language of Dickens is always a pleasure as he wraps his florobundant prose around a cast of character's and scenes that are never boring and often are filled with humor and pathos, and sometimes both at the same time. It's hard to imagine the inward looking authors of the 20th Century Existing without the foundation of the inward novel from characters such as David Copperfield, Pip of Great Expectations and Esther of Bleak House. David's memories are filtered through his own perception and foreknowledge of what occurs in his life after. Dickens use of the first person narrative in telling David's story anchors you to David's reactions to the events of his life and connects you as a reader to similar events or relationships in your own life. Finally, people are always calling Dickens characters caricatures, but as you read about the Micawbers or Uriah Heep, or Dora and think they seem like immutable beings think about the characters in your own life and see how mutable they are, and Dickens caricatures, even 165 years later seem accurate and rooted in reality. Lastly, don't be fightened by the weight of this tome. Once Dickens envelops you in his world and his language, be it in this work or any of his others, you will glide through his works and reach for the next.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This novel is another reason Dickens is read generation after generation after generation. I certainly remember reading Dickens in school, but my appreciation for him has grown greater in my later years. There are probably many who grasp Dickens at the high school level and can enjoy him greatly however, it is not untill my later years that I have come to really enjoy him. This novel originally published in magazine form over a duration of time can at first seem long and daunting and yet it seemed in no time that I was able to finish it. The title character obviously is David Copperfield and it is somewhat a biographical sketch of the author Charles Dickens life. While the first of the novel can seem almost unbearbly painful with the character's father dying just several months before his birth and his aunt abondening the family immediatly after Copperfields birth, and the loss of his mother at a young age, things do get better. Dickens intorduces us to a cast of characters that are enjoyable and we get to follow along as David Copperfield goes through his own life. If you enjoyed Dickens in highschool than you are ahead of the game. If you did not enjoy Dickens in high shcool than give him another chance.
KlassicKate More than 1 year ago
There is a reason why Charles Dickens calls this book 'his favorite child'. What a fantastic read! This is truly a classic. Don't get hung up on the 'old English language' used. Just chug on through it. It's well worth it to take a month to read through this novel and get to know David, as well as the rest of the cast of characters that Dickens brings to life throughout each chapter. A well woven, well told story, that should be read by everyone at least once in his/her lifetime.
Guest More than 1 year ago
After absolutely struggling to get through Great Expectations, i groaned when i had to read this book for school. However, I loved it from beginning to end. Dicken creates absolutely brilliant characters, some whom you will love, and some that you hate. all in all an excellent read.
xMissMelaniex More than 1 year ago
This was my first read of Charles Dickens writing and I loved it. His writing style makes you really have to ponder the point he is getting across. I always see a lot of humor in his writing and enjoy the characters thoroughly.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You ppl who think this book was bad and thought it was hard to read.... honestly i think you are a bad student and have bad reading grades. I bet u didnt even TRY
Krod More than 1 year ago
Although I have only read two of Dickens's novels, which include this and the Tales of Two Cities, I must say that David Copperfield has surpassed my expectations and is now perhaps my favorite book. The author's way of communicating human emotions clearly and effectively has the reader completely hooked and very much in tears in most areas of the novel. Without ruining the novel for you, the story is basically about the life of a very young boy who grows up in a tough and tyrannical childhood. Eventually, he escapes this reality and  finds refuge in his aunt, in hopes of making a new beginning for himself and find true happiness.  Yes, I know the size of this novel seems formidable, but I do assure you that you WILL NOT be disappointed at ALL. The characters that Dickens brings out to life are truly memorable (my favorite characters are David, obviously, and Mr. Peggotty) I do advise if you  can to take notes because if you ever decide to reread this novel, it will be interesting to see how you thought years ago. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
David Copperfield is a long, interesting, dramatic journey through a boy's life. It takes you to his early childhood up to his adulthood. I'd say this a good book for not only for pleasure, but also for psychology purposes because the book sort of goes into detail about how all the difficult events he had gone through impacted him; for instance, when his mother died, finding out he had to go to boarding school for biting his stepfather those kind of things. The only thing I don't like about Charles Dickens's writing is that it's too lengthy and too flowery; but he is a good writer, very imaginative.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This edition, by B&N Classics, is extremely difficult to read. The print is small and the lines are very close to each other. I had to rate it only 3 stars for that reason (I would have given 5 otherwise). I bought this book because I have had other books from B&N Classics which were extremely readable. Other publishers usually have the same or similar print in all of their books, so I assumed that that would be the case with this edition of David Copperfield. I will have to buy another version to get through the remainder of the book. I will probably go with the Modern Library Classics version because their print is always readable.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an awesome read, one of Dicken's best!
Guest More than 1 year ago
With its vivid descriptions of various episodes of David Copperfield's life, its remarkable cast of characters, its startling blend of humor and tragedy, and its intricate, well-woven tapestry of plots, this is Dickens at its best. This book is wonderful, and anyone that has ever fallen in love, suffered after a parent's remarriage, started off on their own career, or been betrayed by a friend will be able to relate to the narrator's experiences.
Guest More than 1 year ago
David Copperfield is one of the most incredible novels I've ever come across. Charles Dicken's gift for writing manuscript is amazing. His use of words are intelligent, and constructed cleverly. If you wish to enjoyably stagger your vocabulary, read some remarkable conversations, or find yourself dubstruck at many intricate letters {written by Mr. Micawber} this is the book to have. I found it to have interesting characters, an excellent plot, and a captivating discourse. I highly recommend this treasure.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of my favorite pieces of literature. A long book, but full of Dickens' classic style, and well worth it. Sad, funny, inspiring, etc. It tears at your emotions, you form strong opinions on the characters, and you get a look into Dickens' actual life. In my opinion, it is slightly better than A Tale of Two Cities. A true classic.
Guest More than 1 year ago
'David Copperfield' is a sad but wonderful novel.It talks about a young boy left alone in the world with a cruel stepfather after his parents die!The step father sends him on his own to make his life at a young age so he runs to his aunt's house.He later on grows up in his humble aut's home until he had to go to school.He learned so much as he went to school ,David was a bright kid all threw his years,but always ran into bad luck for some reason.As a grown up Mr. Copperfield realizes all the difficulties of being an adult, but he still manages it.He later lives a life very well with three children and a lovely wife and nice friends. I think 'David Copperfield' should be past on down to others because it has so many life lessons in it.I refer this book to 'the Outsiders' because the moral of this novel is so strong.When I read this book i felt myself being one with Mr. Copperfield, a strong independent man that would be able to manage if left alone in a world.The book really did not sound good to read when i first picked it up but i read it anyway and im glad i didnt judge a book by its cover!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is all about Davey and his life as he grows up. Full of humorous charactors and lessons that David learns as he grows up. Can be sad, happy and provokes anger at the charactors! I think it's an extremely well-written book, but only enjoyed by those who love old-time literature! But I absolutely loved it!
strandbooks on LibraryThing 3 days ago
David Copperfield is wonderful! If you've never tried Dickens I highly recommend it. It is told by David about his life and all of the strange characters that surround him.
rdjanssen on LibraryThing 3 days ago
I feel bad about rating a Dicken's book so low. I guess in comparison to his other works I just didn't get as much from this one. The beginning of the book had some very amazing and moving moments. The scene where he lays his mother and infant half brother to rest was such an emotional scene. I wish the bulk of the book had remained as engrossing as the beginning. I believe the length and shear scope of the volume may have had an influence. Perhaps with some editing some of the less critical parts could have been shored up and left the story that much better.
Hera on LibraryThing 3 days ago
Probably my favourite novel of the 19th century. I think this is the most skilful of Dickens' works and re-read it frequently.
ostrom on LibraryThing 3 days ago
Dickens' second-best novel (second to Bleak House), in my opinion. What a fabulous parade of characters.
bibliofan on LibraryThing 3 days ago
Finally I am old enough to understand this book. When I was young, I just couldn't get past all the tragedy. Now after the passage of time I see the irony, humor, and passion. I am amazed at how little human nature has changed since the Victorian era.
Hamburgerclan on LibraryThing 9 days ago
I brought this book along to read on the trans-Pacific flight to China. For some reason, I never bothered to crack it, even though I didn't sleep much. Oh well, I did finally get around to reading it when we got settled and was able to savor it. What can I say? It's a classic. It's the life story of a man in 19th Century England, with a rich variety of supporting characters. A well crafted tale that earned itself a place on my shelf. (Once I get back to my shelf, that is.)--J.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I don't understand anyone who doesn't love Dickens! David Copperfield is my favorite of all his novels. Every time I read it I find a new theme and understand his view of life a little better.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A good read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The charming characters you will want to own, the faulty ones you will want to demand improvement, and the evil ones you will want destroyed. It’s all here, and if it was his own biography, it would have been quite a life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of my all-time favorites, this book is the epitome of Dickens. Full of incrediblly detailed characters, exciting plot twists, and unforgettable quotes, this classic will never disappoint! :)