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Great Expectations (Penguin Classics) Paperback – December 31, 2002
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Dickens considered Great Expectations one of his "little pieces," and indeed, it is slim compared to such weighty novels as David Copperfield or Nicholas Nickleby. But what this cautionary tale of a young man raised high above his station by a mysterious benefactor lacks in length, it more than makes up for in its remarkable characters and compelling story. The novel begins with young orphaned Philip Pirrip--Pip--running afoul of an escaped convict in a cemetery. This terrifying personage bullies Pip into stealing food and a file for him, threatening that if he tells a soul "your heart and your liver shall be tore out, roasted and ate." The boy does as he's asked, but the convict is captured anyway, and transported to the penal colonies in Australia. Having started his novel in a cemetery, Dickens then ups the stakes and introduces his hero into the decaying household of Miss Havisham, a wealthy, half-mad woman who was jilted on her wedding day many years before and has never recovered. Pip is brought there to play with Miss Havisham's ward, Estella, a little girl who delights in tormenting Pip about his rough hands and future as a blacksmith's apprentice.
I had never thought of being ashamed of my hands before; but I began to consider them a very indifferent pair. Her contempt for me was so strong, that it became infectious, and I caught it.It is an infection that Pip never quite recovers from; as he spends more time with Miss Havisham and the tantalizing Estella, he becomes more and more discontented with his guardian, the kindhearted blacksmith, Joe, and his childhood friend Biddy. When, after several years, Pip becomes the heir of an unknown benefactor, he leaps at the chance to leave his home and friends behind to go to London and become a gentleman. But having expectations, as Pip soon learns, is a two-edged sword, and nothing is as he thought it would be. Like that other "little piece," A Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations is different from the usual Dickensian fare: the story is dark, almost surreal at times, and you'll find few of the author's patented comic characters and no comic set pieces. And yet this is arguably the most compelling of Dickens's novels for, unlike David Copperfield or Martin Chuzzlewit, the reader can never be sure that things will work out for Pip. Even Dickens apparently had his doubts--he wrote two endings for this novel. --Alix Wilber --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
From School Library Journal
Grade 7 Up—A young man's burning desire to fulfill his "great expectations" of fame and fortune is presented in Charles Dickens's classic tale of love, madness, forgiveness, and redemption. Simon Vance's masterful narration brings to life such diverse personalities as Miss Havisham, the old woman who was abandoned on her wedding day and is determined to wreak revenge through her beautiful adopted daughter Estella; Joe, Pip's lumbering and slow-witted, but emotionally wise and faithful friend; the mysterious Magwitch, a convict who turns out to be Pip's financial benefactor; and Pip, the boy who longs for a destiny greater than that of living out his days as a blacksmith's apprentice. The companion ebook features automatic start-up, keyword searching, PDF printable format, and table of contents. An exceptionally skilled rendering of this classic.—Cindy Lombardo, Cleveland Public Library, OH
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Top customer reviews
The characters in this book are well drawn and very believable. I loved Pip and identified with him as he tries to do what he thinks is right but makes several wrong turns in his life as I think we all do. I felt sorry for Estella and Miss Havisham. She destroyed her own life in her quest for revenge and nearly destroyed Estella’s. My favorite character was Joe the blacksmith, the kindest and truest character ever written by Charles Dickens. I was so happy he came to wonderful end.
I listened to both endings of the book, and I have to say I prefer his original as it finishes everyone’s story but Pip’s and could have been made into a sequel. I understand his friend Edward Bulwer-Lytton asked him to write a happier ending and that is the one most people know. In this version we were treated to both.
Simon Prebble did a wonderful job with his characterizations on the different people in this story.
If you love Dickens than I would highly recommend you read this for the first time or again as a welcoming friend.
The only issues I had were the language and the length of the chapters. Because the story is based out of London it was hard for me to understand some of the language and the dialect,but with the help of the dictionary it was alright. The beginning chapters were like 15-20 pages each, and when you're a teen like me it seems like it is taking forever to get through, especially when you lose focus.
But all in all this was a truly amazing book and a very good read!
If you were to listen to just one audiobook in your life, Frank Muller's narration of Great Expectations should be it. One of the most complimentary things that can be said of such a performance is that it leaves you feeling that the work can be read only in that way. Muller accomplishes this, with the curious and endearing twist that Pip's own narration comes with an American accent, while all others speak in the unforgettable idiom of their place among the English classes and subclasses. Muller on Dickens is a triumph that even Dickens would have applauded.
Now, for the book. The personae will stay with you forever. Pip himself. The deeply generous Joe Gargery. The immortally beautiful Estella, her heart in the end made soft through suffering. Miss Havisham, too terrible to believed but in the end redeemed from her lake of bitterness, if her cry, 'What have I done?!' is to be taken innocently. Wemmick and the Aged P, then - belatedly, Miss Skiffens the gloved. Herbert, then Herbert and Clara.
Jaggers, about whom one is left to ponder, 'Who *is* this man?'
Dickens and Muller are at their best with scoundrels. Expectations provides them no shortage of villains upon whom to practice. Pumblechook. Bentley Drummle. Old Orlick. Compeyson, about whom the best thing said is that he has drowned.
Dickens' keen eye for the glory and the pathetic depths of humanity is almost unparalleled in English literature, with apologies to his critics. He knows that there are Gargeries and Biddies and Herberts. He understands this without for a moment denying the hell in human hearts that is comprised by the likes of Pumblechook with his false respectability and Orlick with his violent, drooling hatreds.
He has comprehended that heaven - if he believed there is such a place - is likely populated by people surnamed Havisham, Jaggers, and Magwitch, who perhaps dance the more vigorously for having been much forgiven.
Yet writing *about* Dickens and his worlds takes time that could be spend on reading Dickens and of his worlds.
For that you'll need to pick up Great Expectations.