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Great Expectations (Penguin Classics) Paperback – December 31, 2002

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"No story in the first person was ever better told."

About the Author

Charles Dickens (1812-70) was a political reporter and journalist whose popularity was established by the phenomenally successful Pickwick Papers (1836-7). His novels captured and held the public imagination over a period of more than thirty years. David Trotter is Quain Professor of English Language and Literature and Head of Department at University College London. Charlotte Mitchell is Lecturer in English at University College London.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Revised edition (December 31, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141439564
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141439563
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.9 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (187 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,268 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

271 of 287 people found the following review helpful By JR Pinto on March 26, 2004
Format: Paperback
Another reviewer claims that you have to be at least 21 years old to read this book. Although I don't think it should be "forced" on schoolchildren (they will only hate it) I read this novel when I was a child and I loved it. I have just re-read it now and I enjoy it all the more. This is my favorite novel by Dickens. It is from his later period and is criticized for being too dark - which, however, makes it more perfect for today's sensibilities. Stephen King cites this work as one of his favorites: he believes that it is this book that brought the gothic novel mainstream.
Was there ever a novelist who created more memorable characters than Dickens? Here, we meet perhaps his most intriguing - Miss Havisham. For anyone unfamiliar with the story, I will not spoil it by describing her. The story is similar to parable about the prodigal son - good Pip inexplicably comes into some money and goes off to the corrupting city.
AN IMPORTANT THING TO NOTE: Dickens wrote two ending for this book. His friends thought that the original ending was too downbeat and they asked him to come up with a different one. It is the upbeat ending that is the official ending of the novel. However, most critics agree that the original unpublished ending is better. Most modern editions feature the unpublished ending in an appendix. MAKE SURE YOU BUY A COPY THAT CONTAINS THE ORIGINAL ENDING!
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115 of 130 people found the following review helpful By Peter Reeve on April 22, 2005
Format: Paperback
Great Expectations is one of Dickens's later novels, a work of his artistic maturity. The narrative is symbolic rather than realistic. Although, as in most of Dickens and in Victorian literature in general, the plot relies heavily on coincidence, it is acceptable here because the events are true to the internal, psychological, logic of the story.

After writing A Tale of Two Cities, which was unique among his novels in that it had none of his trademark humor, Dickens set out to make Great Expectations rich in comic elements. This despite, or perhaps because of, being in a depressed state of mind himself at the time. The conventional critical view is that he largely failed in this attempt, but I strongly disagree. The book is hilariously funny in parts and the main character, Pip, exhibits a characteristically British humour-in-adversity throughout his adventures. There is also the host of minor comic characters that we expect from Dickens. And he for once manages pathos without spilling over into bathos, so there are tears as well as laughter here, sometimes both at once.

If you have not yet read any Dickens, this is not a bad book with which to start, although for younger readers (teens) I would recommend Hard Times or A Tale of Two Cities as their first. Great Expectations demands a mature sensibility to appreciate its symbolism and psychological depth. Perhaps because it chiefly concerns the childhood and youth of the protagonist, it is often given to young people to read and is a set text in some High School classes. This is a pity because, in its dark complexity, it is more likely to turn youngsters off, rather than onto, Dickens.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on July 11, 2005
Format: Paperback
Great Expectations, 1860-'61, Dickens's second to last completed novel is the first tome I have ever read and is one of the best books I've ever read.

The story centers upon Pip who is orphaned and lives with his mean sister and her kind husband Joe. The book's classic opening is when Pip meets an escaped convict and he forces Pip to give him food and then later is caught. Little did Pip know that this occasion will live on and he will be reminded of it in a very unexpected fashion later in the book

Young Pip is then sent to Satis House to meet the very mysterious and eccentric Miss Havisham who, jilted at the altar spends the rest of her cursed recluse life in her rotting, yellow wedding dress in Satis House. Pip also meets Estella, a beautiful, yet very cold and proud girl brought up by Miss Havisham to hate men as revenge for her fiance's betrayal.

Great Expectations is the story of Pip's life and of all the surprises (there's a lot of 'em folks) hopes: some lived some smashed, and of course, Dickensesque eccentrics who populate the book.

Great Expectations is the first tome I have ever finished and I must say that it was worth it. Since I didn't have the book for a while, it took me about three months to read it but have no fear, for this is a pretty quick read with many twists and turns along the way.

This book is often considered Dickens's masterpiece. Well, I don't really know about that but it has to be close to that. It certainly was a great read and I think you will agree.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Leach HALL OF FAME on April 24, 2007
Format: Paperback
I have absolutely no doubts whatsoever that Charles Dickens, if he lived today, would still classify as an author's author. He's a master of all the things that make for great writing and storytelling. Dickens has an ear for dialogue most authors would kill their own mothers to possess. He also is a master of creating vivid scenery, another sign of excellence essential to great writing and one which many authors lack. Finally, but not least in importance, Dickens knows character development. He REALLY knows how to develop intriguing characters, to the point where many of his books spawned figures that have become literary archetypes. Not bad for a guy who grew up in extremely adverse circumstances. He even spent some time in a factory sticking labels on bottles after his father's imprisonment for debt. Most people wouldn't recover from such poverty, but Dickens did. He went on to a successful career in journalism before settling down as an author of serial novels. This format, which allowed Dickens to write and release his stories piecemeal, made him a great success with the public. The anticipation for the latest chapter or two of his stories often led to near riots. Not many writers can elicit such a response today.

Many consider "Great Expectations" a seminal work by a master. Millions have read it, most unwillingly, but most consider it one of Dickens's most accessible stories. It's a tale about a youngster named Phillip Pirrip, known throughout the story as Pip, and his rise from relative obscurity to the heights of wealth and privilege. As the story opens, we see Pip lamenting the passing of his parents in the local cemetery. Their deaths resulted in Pip living with an older sister and her blacksmith husband Joe. Life is tough in Pip's village.
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