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Bleak House (Penguin Classics) Paperback – April 29, 2003
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Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Dickens was already a household name when he wrote it. He'd already cast his net far and wide over an increasingly eager audience (Pickwick Papers, Oliver Twist, David Copperfield and Nicholas Nickleby had all garnered great praise for him, and Martin Chuzzlewit's extensive American episode - after his trip there in 1842 - had helped his popularity no end in the US). He was world famous. He had also just begun editing the weekly journal Household Words, a publication he hoped would help highlight the social injustices of the age. Bleak House is confident and furiously angry in many respects addressing, as it does, much of the same agenda that Household Words railed against week in week out.
The plot centres on the interminable case of Jarndyce v Jarndyce, a years-old law suit creaking its way through Chancery (a reference to two cases: Day v Croft, a suit begun in 1838 and still being heard in 1854; and Jennings v Jennings, begun in 1798 and finally settled in, wait for it, 1878, although, as Dickens says in his Preface, 'if I wanted [more]...I could rain them on these pages, to the shame of a parsimonious public').
"Jarndyce vs. Jarndyce drones on. This scarecrow of a suit has, in the course of time, become so complicated, that no man alive knows what it means.Read more ›
Of course, this book is about a lot more than just the law. One of the most amusing subplots involves various women involved in charity. As the character Mr. Jarndyce says, there are two kinds of people who do charitable work. Some accomplish a great deal, and make very little noise, and some make a great deal of noise, and accomplish nothing. Of course, most of the ones in this book are of the second catagory. The most memorable by far is Mrs. Jellybee, who obsesses over a colony in Africa while her own family falls apart around her. It's exactly like people today, who want to save the whales or free Tibet while people in their own neighborhoods starve.
The characters in this book are excellent, and far more realistic than in most of Dickens's works. Mr. Jarndyce is the heroic father figure, but he is a real one, who tried to be kind and guide his family but can only watch helplessly while his nephew slowly destroys himself trying to overcome the court, which of course is impossible.
Many people have had trouble with the character of Esther Summerson, and her relentless goodness and self-effacement. I think she is a fantastic character, and is Dickens's way of reinforcing the message of the book, that you need to find happiness in your own life, and things like lawsuits do nothing but destroy happiness and should be avoided.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Not the first Dickens work you might think of, but an outstanding read. This work is particularly strong in terms of character development. Very moving.Published 52 minutes ago by Amazon Customer
My Dad loves this edition...he can't wait for more in the future!Published 2 days ago by John Wickelgren
This is a remarkable view of 19th century England with a gigantic cast of characters. If you want to understand history, develop your mind, improve your writing, and increase your... Read morePublished 11 days ago by Christine Lundstrom
I had not read any Dickens for years since I enjoyed "A Tale of Two Cities" and "A Christmas Carol. Read morePublished 16 days ago by Ronald H. Clark
A long complicated tale...take notes as you go along, to sort out the players. Has more "ins" and "outs" than a football stadium!Published 23 days ago by David H. Bernhauser
First I thank Amazon for having this for our Kindles for free! I listened to this book and perhaps it was the computer generated voice which does not show feelings.. Read morePublished 23 days ago by Christina Packard