- Mass Market Paperback: 960 pages
- Publisher: Signet Classics; Reprint edition (January 7, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0451528697
- ISBN-13: 978-0451528698
- Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.5 x 6.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (479 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,665,645 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Bleak House (Signet Classics) Mass Market Paperback – January 7, 2003
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The Amazon Book Review
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Bleak House is a satirical look at the Byzantine legal system in London as it consumes the minds and talents of the greedy and nearly destroys the lives of innocents--a contemporary tale indeed. Dickens's tale takes us from the foggy dank streets of London and the maze of the Inns of Court to the peaceful countryside of England. Likewise, the characters run from murderous villains to virtuous girls, from a devoted lover to a "fallen woman," all of whom are affected by a legal suit in which there will, of course, be no winner. The first-person narrative related by the orphan Esther is particularly sweet. The articulate reading by the acclaimed British actor Paul Scofield, whose distinctive broad English accent lends just the right degree of sonority and humor to the text, brings out the color in this classic social commentary disguised as a Victorian drama. However, to abridge Dickens is, well, a Dickensian task, the results of which make for a story in which the author's convoluted plot lines and twists of fate play out in what seems to be a fast-forward format. Listeners must pay close attention in order to keep up with the multiple narratives and cast of curious characters, including the memorable Inspector Bucket and Mr. Guppy. Fortunately, the publisher provides a partial list of characters on the inside jacket. (Running time: 3 hours; 2 cassettes)
From Library Journal
Bleak House is such a natural for audio that it comes as no surprise to read in Peter Ackroyd's biography of Dickens that he himself read it aloud to Wilkie Collins and his own family. No matter how good he was as a readerAand he did go on to present public readings regularly after thisADickens could not have performed better than Robert Whitfield does here. With a motley cast of characters to challenge the skill of any narrator, his brilliant dramatizations range from a homeless street urchin to an arrogant barrister, from a canny old windbag to a high-minded heroine who deserves the happy ending Dickens affords her. Whitfield is also as persuasive as the indignant voice of the author himself, attacking both the injustice of the law and the cruel indifference of society. This may be one of the most Dickensian novels Dickens ever wrote. Highly recommended.AJo Carr, Sarasota, FL
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top Customer Reviews
Dickens was already a household name when he wrote it. He'd already cast his net far and wide over an increasingly eager audience (Pickwick Papers, Oliver Twist, David Copperfield and Nicholas Nickleby had all garnered great praise for him, and Martin Chuzzlewit's extensive American episode - after his trip there in 1842 - had helped his popularity no end in the US). He was world famous. He had also just begun editing the weekly journal Household Words, a publication he hoped would help highlight the social injustices of the age. Bleak House is confident and furiously angry in many respects addressing, as it does, much of the same agenda that Household Words railed against week in week out.
The plot centres on the interminable case of Jarndyce v Jarndyce, a years-old law suit creaking its way through Chancery (a reference to two cases: Day v Croft, a suit begun in 1838 and still being heard in 1854; and Jennings v Jennings, begun in 1798 and finally settled in, wait for it, 1878, although, as Dickens says in his Preface, 'if I wanted [more]...I could rain them on these pages, to the shame of a parsimonious public').
"Jarndyce vs. Jarndyce drones on. This scarecrow of a suit has, in the course of time, become so complicated, that no man alive knows what it means.Read more ›
Of course, this book is about a lot more than just the law. One of the most amusing subplots involves various women involved in charity. As the character Mr. Jarndyce says, there are two kinds of people who do charitable work. Some accomplish a great deal, and make very little noise, and some make a great deal of noise, and accomplish nothing. Of course, most of the ones in this book are of the second catagory. The most memorable by far is Mrs. Jellybee, who obsesses over a colony in Africa while her own family falls apart around her. It's exactly like people today, who want to save the whales or free Tibet while people in their own neighborhoods starve.
The characters in this book are excellent, and far more realistic than in most of Dickens's works. Mr. Jarndyce is the heroic father figure, but he is a real one, who tried to be kind and guide his family but can only watch helplessly while his nephew slowly destroys himself trying to overcome the court, which of course is impossible.
Many people have had trouble with the character of Esther Summerson, and her relentless goodness and self-effacement. I think she is a fantastic character, and is Dickens's way of reinforcing the message of the book, that you need to find happiness in your own life, and things like lawsuits do nothing but destroy happiness and should be avoided.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Print very easy to read. Very sturdy. Arrived in perfect condition.Published 13 days ago by Melissa
All the strengths and weaknesses of Dickens are highlighted in this rather long novel.
The strengths: humour, engaging plot, insightful descriptions and regular passages... Read more
I'm pretty bleak had a different denotation in Dickens' time than it does today. It has sadness, but it is full of hope and love. Read morePublished 26 days ago by dkadios
Not as good a copy as the Modern Library edition, which albeit is hard to find, but if you don't mind having to constantly look towards the back for notes, and that the chapters... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Kristina Bernard
It is a great classic by Charles Dickens but it is difficult to get to know the many characters in this book apart from the main characters. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
Bleak House is the English equivalent of 'War & Peace' - two of three greatest novels ever written and the most brilliant depiction there is of 19th century English society and... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Mr Lee Williams