7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Important Dickens work for today,
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This review is from: Barnaby Rudge (Oxford Illustrated Dickens) (Hardcover)
This year, 2010, the Riverside, CA Dicken's Festival has selected Barnaby Rudge as its featured work for its weekend-long presentation. In my view, nothing could be more timely.
Most people have not read this book which was never as popular as some of Dickens' other novels, such as Oliver Twist or David Copperfield. However, this historical novel of a tragic period in English history of the late 18th century, was early on a project Dickens wanted to present. Work on it predated his widely popular Pickwick Papers, on a much more serious subject.
It was the religious riots of 1780, precipitated by an unstable member of the House of Lords, Lord George Gordon, who wanted to suppress catholicism, even among members of his own monied class. The cause of "No Popery" was taken up by mob rule which resulted in a horrendous amount of death and loss of property among all the people of London, including the burning of Newgate prison, Bedlam, the hospital for the insane, and many houses of rich and poor alike.
As in all Dickens books, there is a cause that the author wants to present and explore. And this one seems to be an analysis of how mob rule occurs and how people who have little factual information destroy and disrupt both the rule of law and the faculty of common sense. If this were only a historical condition, the novel might be of interest. But, we can easily see how today around the world, the incitement of a few with dubious motives can destroy and disorient the lives of the many. Find a discussion group and read it together!