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Customer Review

306 of 322 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best novel EVER!, March 26, 2004
This review is from: Great Expectations (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
Another reviewer claims that you have to be at least 21 years old to read this book. Although I don't think it should be "forced" on schoolchildren (they will only hate it) I read this novel when I was a child and I loved it. I have just re-read it now and I enjoy it all the more. This is my favorite novel by Dickens. It is from his later period and is criticized for being too dark - which, however, makes it more perfect for today's sensibilities. Stephen King cites this work as one of his favorites: he believes that it is this book that brought the gothic novel mainstream.
Was there ever a novelist who created more memorable characters than Dickens? Here, we meet perhaps his most intriguing - Miss Havisham. For anyone unfamiliar with the story, I will not spoil it by describing her. The story is similar to parable about the prodigal son - good Pip inexplicably comes into some money and goes off to the corrupting city.
AN IMPORTANT THING TO NOTE: Dickens wrote two ending for this book. His friends thought that the original ending was too downbeat and they asked him to come up with a different one. It is the upbeat ending that is the official ending of the novel. However, most critics agree that the original unpublished ending is better. Most modern editions feature the unpublished ending in an appendix. MAKE SURE YOU BUY A COPY THAT CONTAINS THE ORIGINAL ENDING!
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Showing 1-10 of 20 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 1, 2007, 2:46:35 PM PST
Jason Cigan says:
Thank you for the pointer about the original ending--I took your advice, and the original ending is far superior to the final one.

Posted on Jan 31, 2007, 6:38:38 AM PST
J. Park says:
Does this Penguin edition have the original ending?

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 9, 2007, 12:04:22 AM PDT
Peter Reeve says:
Most editions these days contain both endings, and you really want to read both. I can't remember for certain if the Penguin edition does, but the Barnes & Noble edition (that cheap, hardcover edition) does.

Posted on Oct 4, 2007, 7:05:30 PM PDT
Yes, this edition does have the original ending. Or at least I assume it does. If you view the "look inside this book" link in the table of contents there is a section about the original ending.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 6, 2009, 5:55:45 PM PST
ginsu says:
cool thanks! will go back and read that.

Posted on Apr 27, 2009, 9:52:46 PM PDT
Paisley says:
I was FORCED to read this in 9th grade. I'm 33 now and to this day I think of it as the worst thing I've ever read! It may be a great book but as this review says, it'll be ruined if it's forced on you as it was for me, especially as a 15 year old. (We couldn't pass 8th grade until we read it and passed the final.)

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 4, 2009, 11:28:24 PM PDT
I was required --- forced, if you will --- to read this in 8th grade. I was 12 years old. Parts of it were slow going --- Wemmick and his "Aged P", for example, but I loved it. I was utterly charmed by its romanticism and in fact failed to notice how grim the story gets, before being redeemed by the revised ending.

Our teacher did show us the original ending after we'd finished the book --- our edition didn't include the original --- and I was glad he'd changed it. Now, as an adult, I think the ambivalence of the original is more suited to the story; but you have to admit, the final words of the revised ending are truly memorable. (And the revised ending is fairly ambiguous: "We shall remain friends apart."

Posted on Dec 5, 2009, 6:13:03 PM PST
Marianne says:
Ah, I'm only a fourth of the way through, so whenever someone describes it is "dark," I guess I just haven't gotten to that part yet!

I do remember feeling thrilled that it is written in such a modern-sounding voice. Dickens, you're THE MAN!

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 2, 2010, 9:58:12 AM PST
Wayne says:
It's good to know that there are people who know better than Dickens himself how the book should end. Throughout his life, Dickens was subjected to constant criticism about his writing, but he still did what he thought was best; not to kowtow to his readership but to express his his visions rather than those of the social elite. There were more "proper" ways to end books, and ways to write that conformed to literary standards as defined by the pedants of the times. Dickens decided that he was above all that, and ended the book with a happier yet uncertain ending; one with great expectations.

It's good to have both endings because it allows one to take an analytical approach to Dickens rather than accepting his work as populist entertainment. It's not right to consider something good simply because a multitude of people like it. It is better for a smaller group to make that assessment based on rules that they accept; ones that those of their kind have established. Imagine if somebody put hot dogs on par with a gourmet meal made with rare and expensive ingredients. Would it make sense to deny that the latter is somehow better food and deny it simply because more people felt that they liked hot dogs better? Judging the merits of food based on how well people like it would be absurd. Judging it by its health benefits would be equally absurd, which is why that is never done. We need standards defined by culinary experts because the common masses could not possibly understand the finer things in life.

In summary, it's best to read Dickens' work with the original ending rather than with the one he preferred; The original is more in line with contemporary standards and the finished work as presented by Dickens would require accepting things on a purely emotional level. What kind of standard would that be to judge literature by?

Posted on Feb 20, 2010, 11:39:10 AM PST
Couldn't agree more JR. This novel, with it's intertwining story and complex narrative but with it's simple delivery and approachability, is by far the best novel written.
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