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Great Expectations (Dover Thrift Editions) Paperback – August 1, 2001


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From the Back Cover

In this unflaggingly suspenseful story of aspirations and moral redemption, humble, orphaned Pip, a ward of his short-tempered older sister and her husband, Joe, is apprenticed to the dirty work of the forge but dares to dream of becoming a gentleman. And, indeed, it seems as though that dream is destined to come to pass—because one day, under sudden and enigmatic circumstances, he finds himself in possession of "great expectations." In telling Pip's story, Dickens traces a boy's path from a hardscrabble rural life to the teeming streets of 19th-century London, unfolding a gripping tale of crime and guilt, revenge and reward, and love and loss. Its compelling characters include Magwitch, the fearful and fearsome convict; Estella, whose beauty is excelled only by her haughtiness; and the embittered Miss Havisham, an eccentric jilted bride.
Written in the last decade of Dickens' life, Great Expectations was praised widely and universally admired. It was his last great novel, and many critics believe it to be his finest. Readers and critics alike praised it for its masterful plot, which rises above the melodrama of some of his earlier works, and for its three-dimensional, psychologically realistic characters — characters much deeper and more interesting than the one-note caricatures of earlier novels. "In none of his other works," wrote the reviewer in the 1861 Atlantic, "does he evince a shrewder insight into real life, and a cheaper perception and knowledge of what is called the world." To Swinburne, the novel was unparalleled in all of English fiction, with defects "as nearly imperceptible as spots on the sun or shadows on a sunlit sea." Shaw found it Dickens' "most completely perfect book." Now this inexpensive edition invites modern readers to savor this timeless masterpiece, teeming with colorful characters, unexpected plot twists, and Dickens' vivid rendering of the vast tapestry of mid-Victorian England.


More About the Author

One of the grand masters of Victorian literature, Charles Dickens was born on February 7, 1812, in Landport, Portsea, England. He died in Kent on June 9, 1870. The second of eight children of a family continually plagued by debt, the young Dickens came to know not only hunger and privation,but also the horror of the infamous debtors' prison and the evils of child labor. A turn of fortune in the shape of a legacy brought release from the nightmare of prison and "slave" factories and afforded Dickens the opportunity of two years' formal schooling at Wellington House Academy. He worked as an attorney's clerk and newspaper reporter until his Sketches by Boz (1836) and The Pickwick Papers (1837) brought him the amazing and instant success that was to be his for the remainder of his life. In later years, the pressure of serial writing, editorial duties, lectures, and social commitments led to his separation from Catherine Hogarth after twenty-three years of marriage. It also hastened his death at the age of fifty-eight, when he was characteristically engaged in a multitude of work.

Customer Reviews

I read it on a whim and ended up staying up all night to finish it.
Raskolnikov
It has everything that you could want in a story; life lessons, mystery, love, sadness, regret, passion, and so much more!
Heather Ghee
A very well written story, Great Expectations continuously keeps the reader interested with its intriguing occurences.
Christopher Andrew Garcia

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

47 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Bill R. Moore on December 13, 2003
Format: Paperback
Charles Dickens's acknowledged masterpiece, Great Expectations, is rightly considered one of the greatest novels of all-time. It depth and breadth are staggering, as it follows its protagonist, Pip, from his early childhood through his later life. During the course of his life, we encounter a vast catalog of raw human emotions: love, hate, jealousy, hope, sadness, despair, anger, pity, empathy, sympathy -- and on and on. The story is treasured and revered for many reasons. One of its main strengths is its plot: after a somewhat slow introductory section, Dickens puts his story in fifth gear and delivers a fast-paced and exciting story that gallops along without ever losing interest or clarity. The incredibly complex plotline, full of separate stories and incidents that seem totally unrelated to each other, but are then all harnessed together as the book heads straight toward its denouement, is also full of constant plot twists, which continue up until, literally, the last paragraph. But, of course, as with all of Dickens's major works, it is the characters that make the book. Like Shakespeare, Dickens preferred to have the story develop through the characters, rather than having the characters be mere set pieces inside of an overriding story. And what great characters they are: the perennially paradoxical but essentially human Pip; the bitter and mysterious Miss Havisham; the beautiful and haughty Estella; the simple and saint-like Joe; the kind and benevolent Herbert; the very human convict, Magwitch -- and all of the other wonderful characters. Dickens excelled in creating well-rounded, very human characters who harbored very real and very complex emotions -- that is, human emotions.Read more ›
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Vivek Sharma VINE VOICE on February 22, 2004
Format: Paperback
I was just 10 years old, when I first read an abridged version of this Dickens Classic. I must have read it many times since, and everytime I read it, I am filled with array of emotions, and a deep respect for the author. Pip, the hero, is a character that embodies hopes, disappointments and dreams of every boy. As he narrates his life, we grow with him, see many people come in and go out of his life, and we feel with him his emotions and predicaments. Life is full of surprises, unexpected twists and turns, and this novel is a great chronicle of the possibilities of fate. But most importantly, this is a story of pining... and a novel worth pining for.
Miss Havisham, the old lady, epitomizes eccentricity, while Estella in her cold abandon represents every heartbreaker. This story is about pining, about love, about friendship (especially Pip and Joe, and later Pip and Herbert), about relationships, and most importantly about what one feels and lives by. Like all Dickens novels, this is a very well written story, and is much more engrossing than any of its on screen versions. This is a story that must be read at leisure and it must be failing of the reader to try and compare it with some cheap paperback that one can scram through while watching a movie and munching chips and cola. Classics deserve respect, attention and concentration: dedicate yourself to one, and trust me you will discover a lot more. A lot more about the novel and a lot more about your own self.
We all have Great Expectations, and this one by Dickens beats them all!!
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32 of 36 people found the following review helpful By CKE TOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 9, 2003
Format: Paperback
During the course of the year I try to read a few, "Important Novels" in order to get a fuller understanding of literature. Dicken's "Great Expectations" has been on my list for nearly a year. I completely dreaded reading what I thought would be a long and drawn out story about something I could careless about. Well, I was wrong.
"Great Expectations" is now #1 on my all-time favorites list. While, admittedly, it took me roughly 150 pages to get any enjoyment out of the novel- once I was in- I was hooked. Pip's journey through life is a very refreshing look at how distorted we let our lives become by focusing on the unimportant. Dicken's ability to slowly alter Pip's views on life, without changing his essential character/morales (Ex. How Pip looks to help his friend in his business pursuits). Some have called "Great Expecations" his masterpiece... but in my opinion, it may be the "Masterpiece" of English Literature.

I also wonder why this is required High School reading. While I loved this book at age 28, I think most 16 year-olds would find it unbearable. It seems like such a waist to ruin both the book and Dicken's name on minds that are not ready for such a reading task.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Raskolnikov on February 7, 2006
Format: Paperback
First of all, in reference to the reviewer who seemed to think the title was inapropos, all I can say is that I hope that they didn't read the book, for such a lack of understanding would be pathetic. I digress. I am here to dispel some myths. Since this book is often assigned in school, and perceived as "important," as another reviewer noted, I think a lot of people shy away from it and assume it will be boring or difficult to understand. Dickens' novels, however, work on multiple level. There certainly is important social criticism and a web of subtly laced motifs within this novel, but on the surface, it's just a good read. I read it on a whim and ended up staying up all night to finish it. So, don't dispel this novel and turn to the many vapid works available to you. One piece of advice, read the real ending before the changed ending (though the changed one will appear first). I felt that the original one was far better, more relevant, and sadly invalidated by the changed ending thrust upon me first. Happy reading!
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