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Sketches by Boz (Penguin Classics) Paperback – May 1, 1996

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Editorial Reviews


Walter Bagehot once remarked, Dickens wrote about London "like a special correspondent for posterity".

"The first sprightly runnings of his genius are undoubtedly here," wrote Dickens’s friend and biographer John Forster.

From the Publisher

This book is in Electronic Paperback Format. If you view this book on any of the computer systems below, it will look like a book. Simple to run, no program to install. Just put the CD in your CDROM drive and start reading. The simple easy to use interface is child tested at pre-school levels.

Windows 3.11, Windows/95, Windows/98, OS/2 and MacIntosh and Linux with Windows Emulation.

Includes Quiet Vision's Dynamic Index. the abilty to build a index for any set of characters or words. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 688 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reprint edition (May 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140433457
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140433456
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1.2 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #657,869 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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46 of 49 people found the following review helpful By L. A. Chambers on January 13, 2002
Format: Paperback
In bookstores and libraries, literary classics are a dime a dozen. There are so many different editions available of each that the problem becomes one not of finding a good read but of selecting the edition of it that's right for you. Charles Dickens is perhaps the most popular of the past masters. All his books are enormously entertaining, whether he's writing about the tragedies of this world or its travesties. His eye for the ludicrous is faultless; his representation of it in print is perfection. He never fails to paint on the canvass in our mind, with a few simple strokes, a comic character that resembles someone we've met somewhere, sometime in our lives. His characters are so real that he needs to do nothing more than describe their appearance briefly and then let them speak for themselves. They speak with all the dignity and importance we all feel in ourselves, yet they unwittingly disclose for the reader all the foibles we all possess ... and mistakenly think known only to ourselves. Likewise, when introducing tragic characters, Dickens prefers to offer brief but unerringly accurate descriptions of their build, demeanor, and dress, and then allow their own words and actions to speak for themselves. His creations elicit mirth and misery in us without fail as Dickens masterfully plucks the strings of our hearts.
Unlike most writers, Dickens is equally at home in both the short story and the full-length novel format. This is because his novels were serialized in periodicals in their first publications. Only later were they edited for book form. "Sketches by Boz" is an offering of Dickens's first attempts at writing for a living. It consists of 56 passages, most of which can be read in a single sitting of less than half an hour.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By C. M Mills on February 22, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Charles Dickens (1812-1870) is the greatest English novelist. We all know and love his novels. However, most readers do not read "Sketches by Boz" which is an early compilation of articles the budding author penned for various newspapers and journals. These sketches were written while Dickens was a parliamentary reporter in his early 20s.

Wnence does the name "Boz" derive? As a young lad Dickens gave his younger brother Augustus the nickname "Moses" in honor of a character in Oliver Goldsmith;'s classic novel "The Vicar of Wakefield." Young Augustus could not pronounce "Moses" correctly calling himself "Boz". Dickens decided this would be a good name to apply to himself as he submitted the anonymous humorous sketches he produced in profusion in the 1830s. We sometimes foget that Dickens was already an author prior to the ascension of Queen Victoria in 1837.

The Penguin edition divides the lengthy sketches into four sections:

"Sketches from our Parish:; :Scenes of London"; "Characters" and the best section "Tales" which are humorous short stories.

The book is illustrated by George Cruikshank a good friend of the author and along with Phiz one of Dickens best illustrators.

The various tales are of uneven quality. Do not read this book if you are seeking the complexity of a "Bleak House": "Little Dorrit" or "Our Mutual Friend." Do peruse them if you enjoy succinctly and well observed tales and sketches of what it was like to live in London in the 1830s as the city was becoming a vast metropolis filled with interesting characters. I loved Dickens sketches of what a London street scene was like in the bustle of early morning. His stories of life in the theatre were excellent as was his tour of Newgate prison .
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Seth Davidson on December 14, 2008
Format: Paperback
I read the Kindle edition of the book; it's a great sampler of classic Dickens without having to do the full-on 400+ readathon that many of his best works require. The most enjoyable aspect of the stories is the historic, authentic feel they give of London in the early 1800's. Dickens's keen eye for detail and his ability to describe it in a lively manner make this series of short stories a true time slip of a book.

The bubbling cauldron of 19th Century English society boils over the edges in these usually funny, always entertaining, often gripping sketches of people and places in London. His nostalgia for places and people being displaced by the economic growth brought on by the industrial revolution is strongest in his sketch "Scotland Yard," and the book is filled with a keen respect for the past without making apologies for its brutalities or injustices.

As with so many things written by Dickens, courting, drunkenness, elopement, hanky-panky, hypocrisy, true love, and human goodness feature prominently throughout. Stories such as "The Election for Beadle" presage the fuller parody of British elections that appears in "The Pickwick Papers," and his derisiveness in "Parliamentary Sketch" brings to bear much of his earlier experiences as a political reporter.

As in all his writing, however, Dickens's strength and power show strongest when he writes about the cab drivers, curates, hackney drivers, omnibus cads, chimney sweeps, circus performers, theater actors, gin shop waitresses, pawnbrokers, prison inmates, invalids, drunks, prostitutes, spinsters, lonely old men, unhappily married couples, abused wives, pensioners, milliners, and "shabby-genteel" people who made up the ordinary walks of life.

This book is a rare combination of humor, history, and pathos, all rolled into one.
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