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David Copperfield (Penguin Classics) Paperback – December 28, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"The most perfect of all the Dickens novels."
--Virginia Woolf

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 1024 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Revised edition (December 28, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140439447
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140439441
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1.8 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (843 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #40,498 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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284 of 289 people found the following review helpful By E. Kutinsky on September 24, 2006
Format: Paperback
Somehow, I'd graduated from college - with a degree in English, no less - and had never had to read a single thing ever written by Charles Dickens. I read quite a bit on my own, but still found David Copperfield to be the height of ambition - my copy was 1001 pages long, and I hadn't ventured into a book over a thousand pages since I'd read The Stand at age 12. I cannot imagine that I am alone in completing my education and sidestepping Dickens altogether, so I think it's important I share my experience. In truth, the only reason I chose David Copperfield over, say, Great Expectations or Hard Times was the passing comment made by Jeff Daniels in The Squid And The Whale - dismissing a Tale of Two Cities as "minor Dickens," saying David Copperfield was "much richer."

It is rich. I tend towards modern fiction nowadays, fiction that, unexpectedly, takes you deep inside the heart of its characters sometimes bewildering behavior and humanity. What strikes me about the complex nature of the characters in Copperfield is the way it seems that no effort at all has been used to distinguish each of them, yet there is no doubt as to how vivid they are. Each character speaks in a tone that is a perfect elucidation of who they are - you can hear, just in the dialogue, the calm wisdom of Agnes, the parasitic obsequiousness of Uriah Heep, the punctilious rambling of Micawber, the pleasantries that barely mask the aggression of Miss Dartle, the rigid boredom of the Murdstones, the spoiled impishness when Dora speaks (so precise I heard her voice in cloying and nasal babytalk in my head). It's a delicate balancing act to keep this level of detail so hidden in his work, and it makes the plot machinations speedy and exciting.
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110 of 114 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer B. Barton on October 30, 2003
Format: Paperback
David Copperfield uses the story of Copperfield's life from birth through middle life to introduce and explore some wonderful personalities. Look more for deep and penetrating character studies than a fast moving plot line. It is not character study alone, however. Again and again, through many characters and many instances, he seems to really explore "the first mistaken impulse of an undisciplined heart", and that "there can be no disparity in marriage like unsuitability of mind and purpose". Look for these themes to come in from the very beginning and continue until they are actually spelled out by one character and contemplated by another.
When David is born, his father is already buried in the churchyard nearby. He, his mother, and their servant Pegotty live happily enough as a family until his mother remarries. The new husband does not like frivolity or friendly association with servants but more than that, he does not like David. David is sent off to boarding school and then sent out to work. Barred from his mother's affections by his stepfather, Pegotty becomes a full mother figure and his ties to her and her family only deepen with time. Through her, he meets her brother, Mr. Pegotty; her nephew?, Ham, the widow Mrs. Gummidge and Mr. Pegotty's niece, Emily. At school, he makes fast friends with many boys but most especially with the privileged James Steerforth and the not so privileged Tommy Traddles, both of whom show up again in David's adulthood. In the bottling warehouse where he is sent to work as a child, he lodges with Mr. And Mrs. Micawber who are always in debt. They also show up again in his adulthood.
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50 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Balbach on September 25, 2005
Format: Paperback
This is a first-person life-story of David Copperfield ("DC") that draws large on Dickens ("CD") own life. It was his "favorite child" and hailed as his best work by Tolstoy and Virginia Woolf. It includes a cast of over 50 characters. For its time it was one of the greatest works, and still is.

To enjoy Dickens you have to let go, sit back, and enjoy the ride and not worry about the destination. Because although you can see the destination early on, like a mountain far off in the distance, the road to get there is entirely unpredictable and the distances traveled are deceiving to the minds eye. The trick is to enjoy the here and now, wherever the story happens to be, because Dickens will never follow the predictable path, and can leave one exasperated waiting for a plot closure. Consider a Dickens journey never-ending and you can just relax and enjoy the ride.

The primary theme of the novel is how Copperfield learns to have a disciplined heart and morals. In other words, he grows up and becomes a man. This is seen throughout all the relationships in the book: love, business, friendship -- the mistakes of an "undisciplined heart". He learns self control to do the right thing even if his initial impulse is something else (Dora versus Agnus). He learns confidence in his dealings with the world (his innocent days of being ripped off all the time such as by waiters and cab drivers "my first fall"). He learns respect through the mistakes of others such as Steerforth. Self control, Confidence and Respect are all hallmarks of a grown man and we see Copperfield develop a sense of these, and the misfortunes that happen otherwise, to himself and those around him.
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