11-15-2007 12:22 PM
Opening in the swirling mists of London, the novel revolves around a court case that has dragged on for decades -- the infamous Jarndyce and Jarndyce lawsuit, in which an inheritance is gradually devoured by legal costs. As Dickens takes us through the case’s history, he presents a cast of characters as idiosyncratic and memorable as any he ever created, including the beautiful Lady Dedlock, who hides a shocking secret about an illegitimate child and a long-lost love; Mr. Bucket, one of the first detectives to appear in English fiction; and the hilarious Mrs. Jellyby, whose endless philanthropy has left her utterly unconcerned about her own family.
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. The book 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, it is perhaps the most autobiographical of Dickens’s fiction.
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.
Set amid smokestacks and factories, Hard Times is a blistering portrait of Victorian England as it struggles with the massive economic turmoil brought on by the Industrial Revolution. Championing the mind-numbing materialism of the period is Thomas Gradgrind, one of Dickens’s most vivid characters. He opens the novel by arguing that boys and girls should be taught “nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life.” Forbidding the development of imagination, Gradgrind is ultimately forced to confront the results of his philosophy -- his own daughter’s terrible unhappiness.
Left penniless by the death of his improvident father, young Nicholas Nickleby assumes responsibility for his mother and sister and seeks help from his Scrooge-like Uncle Ralph. Instantly disliking Nicholas, Ralph sends him to teach in a school run by the stupidly sadistic Wackford Squeers. Nicholas decides to escape, taking with him the orphan Smike, one of Squeers’s most abused young charges, and the two embark on a series of adventurous encounters with an array of humanity’s worst and best—greedy fools, corrupt lechers, cheery innocents, and selfless benefactors.
After escaping from the dark and dismal workhouse where he was born, Oliver finds himself on the mean streets of Victorian-era London and is unwittingly recruited into a scabrous gang of scheming urchins. In this band of petty thieves Oliver encounters the loathsome Fagin, the beautiful and tragic Nancy, the crafty Artful Dodger, and perhaps one of the greatest villains of all time -- the terrifying Bill Sikes. Rife with Dickens’s disturbing descriptions of street life, the novel is buoyed by the purity of the orphan Oliver. Though he is treated with cruelty and surrounded by coarseness for most of his life, his pious innocence leads him at last to salvation, and the shocking discovery of his true identity.
A Tale of Two Cities
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” With these famous words, Dickens plunges the reader into one of history’s most explosive eras -- the French Revolution. From the storming of the Bastille to the relentless drop of the guillotine, Dickens vividly captures the terror and upheaval of that tumultuous period. At the center is the novel’s hero, Sydney Carton, a lazy, alcoholic attorney who, inspired by a woman, makes the supreme sacrifice on the bloodstained streets of Paris.
11-21-2007 02:02 PM
Dickens has a way of making the scenarios seem so real, at certain times one actually feels as though you are there in the story.
I admire the way he strays from the glamorous and makes poor, humble folk his eventual heroes.
11-21-2007 04:36 PM - edited 11-21-2007 04:40 PM
I am very interested in the Victorian period so drew me even closer to his books. He was a real icon!
Message Edited by LindaEducation on 11-21-2007 04:40 PM
11-22-2007 02:24 PM
11-28-2007 04:43 PM
Grand Dame of the Land of Oz, Duchess of Fantasia, in the Kingdom of Wordsmithonia; also, Poet Laureate of the Kingdom of Wordsmithonia
01-22-2008 04:44 AM
About this same time, I did have a "Classic Illustrated" version of "David Copperfield"- I realize these Comic Books are considered by some to be inferior, bastardized versions of the original works of Literature they are modeled on- but it did give me a pretty good overview of the story [ and I tended to read these Comic Books over and over again, as well ]...
Years later, [ about the time I was 22 years old ] I bought a paperback copy of "David Copperfield" and made very slow and steady progress through this tome...Although I had to fudge a little towards the end chapters of the book... [ I believe the only book of any great length that I have read straight through from beginning to end was Tolkien's "The Lord Of The Rings" ]...I have also made attempts at "The Pickwick Papers" and "Oliver Twist"...
Most of my Dickens has been recieved through the "osmosis process" of movies and "Masterpiece Theater" -rather than through the actual books- but I enjoyed all these renditions of the original stories...I have always tended to be a real "Anglophile" when it comes to Literature - or Cinema [ or Television, for that matter ]...And all the different "periods" of English History and Society have always held a fascination for me...The "Victorian" Period is certainly intruiging in that it was so influential in its shaping of the modern-day world- and the echoes of its mind-set and mores were still resounding even until more recent times...and even traces of its "atmosphere" still lingering...
About the same time period I mentioned earlier [ 1968-69 ] I also read my first "Sherlock Holmes" stories [ by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle ] - these also impressed on my mind some of the atmosphere of the era [ although those stories take place a little later than the Dickens stories- and are not as concerned with Society's problems ] and encouraged my interest in that era...
As an aside- I was involved, shortly after I graduated from Berkeley High School, in a Summer production of "Oliver!"- which was set up on the stage of The Berkeley Community Theatre- with the audience seated right up on the stage- the different sets connected by ramps, or "bridges"...I was not in the cast- but high, high up in the far rafters of the wings- operating a spotlight...It was a very magical time for me...The actors did a very good job [ especially the person who played "Fagin" ] and I loved the Victorian costumes and the music and singing were enchanting to me...it was sort of like being right in the middle of this fantastic Technicolor movie...
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01-22-2008 07:13 PM
Even in my "Classic Illustrated" version of "David Copperfield" that I had as a child- I felt like I became familiar with all the myriad personalities in the story- and was always struck with how, after some of them would sometimes fade out of the story line- they would often reappear later on ( usually when you least expected it! )...
Sometimes, in my own life, when I have met up again with people I may have known at some earlier part of my life, or even having just seen someone I recognize ( whom I have not seen in a long time )- It makes me think: "This is just like something straight out of a Dickens story"...
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