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Nicholas Nickleby (Penguin Classics) Paperback – November 1, 1999

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Nicholas Nickleby, a gentleman's son fallen upon hard times, must set out to make his way in the world. Along the way various older, money-grubbing villains attempt to injure him. Eventually, with the assistance of kind patrons, he and his family achieve economic security and a happy home. Sounds rather trite, doesn't it? Not with characters written by Dickens (Hard Times, Audio Reviews, LJ 5/1/98). Schoolmaster Squeers would make a fine poster boy for child abusers. Ralph Nickleby's initial desire to injure Nicholas gradually develops into a full-blown obsession. Then there are the kind Cheeryble brothers, the gentle, much-abused Smike, and a host of other friends who provide comic relief. Martin Jarvis does an outstanding job of reading this book. His ingenues sound young (a frequent problem area for male readers) while his villains are deliciously evil. The only problems are with the abridgment. In several places, choppy editing has left brief, disconnected scenes and/or character cameos without relevance to the abridged tale. Still, this is a charming presentation and a wonderful bridge to a classic book. Recommended for public and academic libraries.AI. Pour-El, Iowa State Univ., Ames
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"As is typical of Charles Dickens, Nicholas Nickleby contains a myriad of characters, and as is typical of Simon Vance, he skillfully handles each one. . . . Like the novel itself, Vance delivers a performance that is both poignant and humorous." ---AudioFile --This text refers to the MP3 CD edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 864 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; New Ed edition (November 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140435123
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140435122
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1.6 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (195 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #189,811 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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93 of 97 people found the following review helpful By JR Pinto on March 8, 2003
Format: Paperback
I read criticisms of this book that it is not one of Dickens' best. For me, it is up there with Great Expectations and David Copperfield as one of his most enjoyable novels (A Christmas Carol is a short story).
The social axe that Dickens had to grind in this story is man's injustice to children. Modern readers my feel that his depiction of Dotheboys Academy is too melodramatic. Alas, unfortunately, it was all too real. Charles Dickens helped create a world where we can't believe that such things happen. Dickens even tell us in an introduction that several Yorkshire schoolmasters were sure that Wackford Squeers was based on them and threatened legal action.
The plot of Nicholas Nickleby is a miracle of invention. It is nothing more than a series of adventures, in which Nicholas tries to make his way in the world, separate himself from his evil uncle, and try to provide for his mother and sister.
There are no unintersting characters in Dickens. Each one is almost a charicature. This book contains some of his funniest characters.
To say this is a melodrama is not an insult. This is melodrama at its best. Its a long book, but a fast read.
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35 of 39 people found the following review helpful By A.J. on May 1, 2004
Format: Paperback
Dickens is as much a social critic as a storyteller in "Nicholas Nickleby," which basically pits the noble young man who gives the novel its title against his wickedly scheming rich uncle Ralph in a grand canvas of London and English society. At the beginning of the novel, Nicholas's father has just died, leaving his family destitute, and Uncle Ralph, a moneylender (specifically, a usurer) and a venture capitalist of sorts, greedy and callous by the requirements of the story, reluctantly feels obligated to help them, and does so by securing for Nicholas a position as headmaster's assistant at a school for boys in Yorkshire, and for Nicholas's sister Kate a job as a dressmaker for a foppish clown named Mr. Mantalini, while Nicholas and Kate's scatterbrained mother is left in her room to mutter incoherent reminiscences about random events in her life.
This Yorkshire school, called Dotheboys Hall, turns out to be little more than a prison in the way it is run by its headmaster, an improbably cruel cyclops named Wackford Squeers who badly mistreats and miseducates the students. Now, historical records indicate that while Squeers may be an exaggeration, his school is definitely not, Dickens intending to warn his readers of the day that some such places were indeed that bad. The duration at Dotheboys Hall constitutes only a small portion of the novel, but Squeers and his grotesque family reappear throughout the rest of the story like gremlins who are always causing bad things to happen to our hero.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By B. Morse on May 16, 2001
Format: Hardcover
My first taste of Dickens was the appalingly long David Copperfield as a freshman in high school. I detested it, swore I would never read Dickens again, only to find that my junior year held in store for me what would become one of my favorite novels, Great Expectations, a book heinously bastardized years later by a 'modernized' film adaptation, with Anne Bancroft being the only redeeming feature.
Through the years since high school, I have begun to read Dickens of my own free will, and have greatly enjoyed his works.
Nicholas Nickelby, one of my all time favorites, is a wonderful novel, typical Dickens, chock full of characters, plots, satire, and story. Nicholas and his immediate family are the 'black sheep' of the Nickelby name. Humble, gentle, and common in the eyes of their well-to-do relative, Uncle Ralph Nickelby, who denounces Nicholas as a boy, and man, who will never amount to anything.
In typical Dickens fashion, Nicholas encounters adversity first at a boarding school, then in society, as he forges a name for himself. Along the way he befriends many, enrages some, and invokes the wrath of his Uncle Ralph, determined to prove himself right in bemoaning the shortcomings of his nephew.
One point of interest in this novel for me is the major revelation that comes toward the end involving the character of Smike. Throughout the novel he is loveable, pitiable, and utterly realistic, and his significance to the life of Nicholas, as revealed in the final chapters, is a true plot twist, and a charming, if not bittersweet, realization.
For anyone forced to read Dickens early in life, if you appreciate quality satire and an engaging look at the London society of more than 125 years ago, visit this novel sometime, it is one of Dicken's finest.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Z Hayes HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on May 7, 2009
Format: Hardcover
My review here is not of the novel, but rather of the Nonesuch edition of Dickens' classic. The book itself is a facsimile edition of the 1937 Nonesuch Dickens, and is published by Barnes and Noble. The book itself is in quality hardback. The "Nicholas Nickleby" Nonesuch edition has the spine bound in leather and the rest of the cover is cloth-bound [the color is green].The dust jacket is clear quality plastic. The paper quality is of good stock and is cream in color.

The text is set in Martin's Type and the illustrations from the original steel plates are by A. Alexander and Sons Ltd. This is a beautiful and affordable classic [I own six of them and plan to get the rest] and the Nonesuch Dickens Classics will complement any collector's bookshelf.
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