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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
Excellent read.....great developed characters, could not put it down.Published 2 days ago by sandra vensland
Like any other unfinished novel, leaves a lot be be desired. The American scenes are heavily overdrawn, but I was enjoying it and then....Published 13 days ago by Haiyen Le
I almost bought this edition before double-checking and, sure enough, I already have it: it is the famous "Completed by the Spirit-Pen of Charles Dickens" version. Read morePublished 22 days ago by Phyllis A. Karr
The big thing with this novel is that it is unfinished. That's right. There is no ending. Don't fool yourself into thinking there'll be a resolution, because you'll be sorely... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Sheyanna
I thought it was great ............ I had seen the stage play in London and was skeptical that the story would follow the play. They meshed
perfectly ..... Read more
I'm a huge Dickens fan...have reread everyone of his novels. BUT had never read the unfinished Edwin Drood. It seemed to me, why bother? Read morePublished 1 month ago by Miller Beach Girl
Another great from the Dickens line of novels where he creates his vivid word pictures......some say with too much detail . Read morePublished 1 month ago by george keith edweards