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The Mystery of Edwin Drood (Penguin Classics) Paperback – May 28, 2002
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There is first of all John Jasper, an opium addict who suspiciously loves Drood's ex-fiancee; there is a nameless old woman who dealt him the opium who is trying to nail Jasper; there is a suspicious pile of quicklime Jasper notices during a late night stroll through the cathedral precincts; there is Durdles who knows all the secrets of the Cathedral of Cloisterham's underground burial chambers; there is the "deputy," a boy in the pay of several characters who has seen all the comings and goings; there are the Anglo-Indian Landless twins, one of whom developed a suspicious loathing for Drood; there is the lovely Rosebud, unwilling target of every man's affections; and we haven't even begun talking about Canon Crisparkle, Datchery, Tartar, and a host of other characters. All we know is that the game is afoot, but we'll never know the outcome.
It would have been nice to know how Dickens tied together all these threads, but we can still enjoy THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD because -- wherever Dickens was heading with it -- it is very evidently the equal of his best works. Life is fleeting, and not all masterpieces are finished.
As in all of Dickens' novels, the characterizations are the thing. You have the innocent young woman with the somewhat eccentric guardian and his Bob Cratchitlike assistant. There is the dark, possibly unfairly accused, but hot headed antagonist of Drood. Then there is Drood's brooding choirmaster uncle, John Jasper, who frequents opium dens, and who may or may not have ulterior motives in his seeking revenge. Durdles, the stone mason, and a somewhat weird character, provides some chilling comic relief in cemetery scenes with his stone throwing assistant. There are also the typical Dickensian characters, which includes a snooty older woman, a class conscious, spinsterish school mistress, and in a hilarious restaurant scene, an unappreciated, hard working "flying waiter" and a lazy, wise acre "stationary waiter."
It is a shame that Dickens died before he could complete "Edwin Drood." What is here are the beginnings of an exploration of man's dual nature, a journey into "the heart of darkness" so to speak.
Jasper, aged twenty-six, is the uncle and guardian of Edwin Drood, only a few years younger. Drood has been the fiancé of Rosa Bud for most of his life, an arrangement made by his and Rosa's deceased fathers to honor their friendship, and the wedding is expected within the year. Jasper, Rosa's music teacher, is secretly in love with her, though she finds him repellent.
When two orphans, Helena and Neville Landless, arrive in Cloisterham, Helena and Rosa become friends, and Neville finds himself strongly attracted to the lovely Rosa. Ultimately, the hot-tempered Neville and Drood have a terrible argument in which Neville threatens Drood before leaving town on a walking trip. Drood vanishes the same day. Apprehended on his trip, Neville is questioned about Drood's disappearance, and Jasper accuses him of murder.
Tightly organized to this point, the novel shows Jasper himself to be a prime suspect, someone who could have engineered the evidence against Neville, but Dickens unexpectedly introduces some new characters at this point--the mysterious Dick Datchery and Tartar, an old friend of Rev. Mr. Crisparkle, minor canon at the cathedral. Puffer, the opium woman, is reintroduced and appears set to play a greater role, since she solicits information from the semi-conscious Jasper and secretly follows him.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
As with all Dickens, wonderful character painting.
Wonderful to get back to Dickens after a spell of modern literature.
Fresh air, perhaps, and a clearer head. Read more
Would get more stars if the mystery had a clever and/or unanticipated ending and explanation. But pretty good, nonetheless.Published 3 months ago by Holden Baker
The book itself was very good. This edition was poor. There were many mistakes and typos that were not corrected from the original OCR. Read morePublished 3 months ago by terdan
Loved it.Sorry Dickens didn't get to finish it, but there are some wonderful characters in it.Published 3 months ago by Alice
Dickens first mystery and his last book that was never finished. It’s a little hard to read and I have my own ideas about how it might have ended. Read morePublished 4 months ago by joyful27
This wasn't my favorite Dickens novel, but still engaging. What you should know is: he died before finishing. It sort of leaves you hanging. Read morePublished 5 months ago by D.Dawn
I've read several reviews here that imply the mystery of Edwin Drood is left unsolved, as the novel is unfinished. It is not, however. The mystery is very clearly resolved. Read morePublished 6 months ago by none given