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The Pickwick Papers (Penguin Classics) Paperback – August 1, 2000
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"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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“No essay in fiction ever gave more incontestable assurance of genius. . . . Never, perhaps, was satire so large-hearted and so entertaining.”—George Gissing
About the Author
Charles Dickens was born on February 7, 1812, in Landport, Portsea, England. He died in Kent on June 9, 1870. The second of eight children of a family continually plagued by debt, the young Dickens came to know not only hunger and privation,but also the horror of the infamous debtors’ prison and the evils of child labor. A turn of fortune in the shape of a legacy brought release from the nightmare of prison and “slave” factories and afforded Dickens the opportunity of two years’ formal schooling at Wellington House Academy. He worked as an attorney’s clerk and newspaper reporter until his Sketches by Boz (1836) and The Pickwick Papers (1837) brought him the amazing and instant success that was to be his for the remainder of his life. In later years, the pressure of serial writing, editorial duties, lectures, and social commitments led to his separation from Catherine Hogarth after twenty-three years of marriage. It also hastened his death at the age of fifty-eight, when he was characteristically engaged in a multitude of work.
Mark Wormald is a Fellow and College Lecturer in English at Pembroke College, Cambridge.
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But what about the connection between DQ and Pickwick? Is there any above the fact that they both are huge blocs of foremost world literature? I have the itching that yes, but cannot show clear instances. Of course both main persons are in some way foolish idealists, big free minds, which we all wish we could be. A great deal of both stories takes place in travelling, but by different means and in different signs: DQ on his miserable Rosinante and Pickwick on various horse buggies, one of which is called gig and described as - in fact not described closer than that it was on several occasions 'clay colored and red wheeled', but how many wheels? no mention. Never heard before of this vehicle. Wikipedia gives a host of gigs, and mentions the vehicle as two wheeled and horse drawn.
In general, I am very pleased with my invention of collecting dictionary lookups to a vocabulary file. This is one of the finest features of Kindle, although left half way in performance. You get the dictionary definition in an instant, but after closing it vanishes into thin air. Luckily there are screen grabbers with which you can save both the word and its definition.
Although so different of the present mode of life, still particularly different of the social surrounding of our life in Finland, where no Mr. and no Sir exist, not even difference between he and she in the mode of linguistic usage, without any hesitation: five bright stars to Mr. Pickwick by the great Charles Dickens!
The story does have a plot line running through it, but it is also like a news digest. There are bits and pieces that are well worth following for their own sake.
...and of course Dickens' delicious prose is enjoyable. His description of a man at a military review chasing his hat that has been blown off by the wind. The obligatory ghost story where the young man says (shakily) to the ghost "You know, I don't understand why you ghosts persist in staying where you were so miserable! Why not go somewhere pleasant?" And the ghost saying "I never thought of that! I am much obliged!" and vanishing, with the young man calling after it, "You would make us all very grateful if you would spread the word."
It also contains, toward the end, one of the most moving tales of retribution, mercy and kindness, with a speech by Mr. Pickwick's barrister on the subject of mercy.
A fun, touching, sometimes uproarious book.
In reading this book, I was reminded of Harriet Vane's comment (in <cite>Strong Poison</cite>) that someone would like to marry Lord Peter Wimsey merely for the pleasure of hearing him talk piffle. Well, Dickens, who was 75 or so years before Wimsey, was a master at piffle. Normally, I like piffle. My very own spouse considers me to be a regular fountain of piffle. But, this book had a bit too much of it and a bit too little else. It basically had no point other than piffle. There's no real plot. Dickens just made up stuff for a year or two and eventually republished it wrapped all into a single volume as a novel. His first to be exact.
His later novels seem to have some point from the beginning and eventually, with lots of entertaining piffle along the way, get to their appointed ends. In this case, there was no point except for the piffle and Dickens eventually ran out. Something like that. He does show some signs of his future greatness. He has some rather interesting and quirky characters. He has shyster lawyers all over the place. He has blaggards and scoundrels, albeit in this novel they're not also physically marred in some way as per usual. I don't remember any orphans in this book, and not really any sickly innocents. But, I suppose for Dickens, it's a good beginning. Or something.
Perhaps the best way to view this book is akin to a modern sit com. There's a new episode each week that has some entertainment value in itself, but which is only marginally connected in any way with past or future episodes, other than that the characters remain the same and some of their past experiences are recounted in some way in the future. In essence, it's a Victorian-era version of the 1990s TV show, <cite>Friends</cite>.
As a side note, Amazon claims that the book contains 514 pages, the book itself says only 508, but the exact same edition on GoodReads has a more reasonable view of the page count, 914 pp. I checked that the ASIN numbers were the same on GoodReads and Amazon. Virtually all the dead-tree versions are closer to 1000 pages than to 500 pages. So why is Amazon so far off on it's alleged "real page numbers"? This isn't the first time I noticed that Amazon was page-count challenged. Why do I care?
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You are soaked in Dickens' observations on the Vanity of Human nature - particular and so often, hilariously funny.Read more