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  1. The Pickwick Papers
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Verified Purchase. It's Dickens! The comic genius's entire literary output is here, in chronological order. This is a massive amount of good reading which I can now dip into on the Kindle whenever I like, without lugging around the weighty physical tomes. While the novels are all familiar, there are loads of essays and shorts which are less easy to come by.

Now I can re-read the great books, with all the other bits in between at the right time. Occasionally the punctuation seems suspect. Good value. Occasionally the punctuation seems suspect, and I do not recall noticing that in the hardback volumes that I have in my collection, but otherwise very enjoyable. See both reviews. Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon. The toughest aspect of this read is the old English vernacular, very difficult for me to follow. Who am I to criticize Mr. What can you possibly say about "Dickens"? To have them all at your fingertips, is overwhelming I am reading "Bleak House" and ordered the audible It's great to be able to revisit Dickens and his terrific stories.

I'm reading Pickwick Papers now and laughing as much as I did 40 years ago. Any Dickens fan would enjoy this book at the low cost.

Book Review - Dombey and Son

This is a great way to carry Dickens with you. I enjoy having the books with me when I have a few moments to spare. Go to Amazon. Unlimited One-Day Delivery and more. There's a problem loading this menu at the moment. His first novel, Pickwick Papers, is in part an attempt to recapture their idyllic nature; it exalts innocence and the youthful spirit, and its happiest scenes take place in that geographical area. In the light of the family's move back to London, where financial calamity overtook the Dickenses, the time in Chatham must have seemed glorious indeed.

The family moved into the shabby suburb of Camden Town, and Dickens was taken out of school and set to menial jobs about the household. In time, to help augment the family income, Dickens was given a job in a blacking factory among coarse companions. Then his father was jailed for debt in Marshalsea Prison for three months. Dickens worked at washing and labeling blacking bottles for six months or so. Years later he reported to his closest friend, John Forster, that he felt a deep sense of abandonment, of being forsaken, at this time.

His feelings of lostness and humiliation emphasize the fact that the major themes of his art may be traced to this period. His sympathy for the poor and the victimized, his fascination with prisons and money, his desire to vindicate his heroes' status as gentlemen, and the notion of London as an awesome and rather threatening environment all appear to have their roots in these experiences, which resulted from the brief but nearly total collapse of his parents' ability to protect him from the world.

Out on his own at an early age, Dickens acquired a lasting self-reliance, driving ambition, and a boundless energy that went into everything he did. In many ways Dickens never outgrew the shocks and emotional attitudes of this period, but his achievement is that he worked these shocks over in novel after novel until they took on the symbolic complexity and depth of great literature. At thirteen Dickens went back to school for two years and then took a job in a lawyer's office. Dissatisfied with the work, he learned shorthand and became a freelance court reporter in The work was seasonal and enabled him to do a good deal of reading in the British Museum.

The Pickwick Papers

At the age of twenty Dickens became a full-fledged journalist, working for three papers in succession. In the next four to five years he acquired the reputation of being the fastest and most accurate parliamentary reporter in London. The value of these years was that he gained a sound, firsthand knowledge of London and the provinces which helped him flesh out the experiences of early adolescence with concrete details and a maturer experience of the world.

In December , Dickens began to publish sketches of London and its inhabitants in the Monthly Magazine. In time he began to sign them with the pseudonym, "Boz," and gained some notice for the dramatic quality of his reportage. On his twenty-fourth birthday these articles were published in book form as Sketches by Boz, Illustrative of Everyday Life and Everyday People.

Although the book was a success it had little intrinsic literary merit. However, it launched him on his career as a writer, a career astonishing in its productivity, quality, and undiminished popular acclaim.

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A week after his first book was published, the firm of Chapman and Hall approached Dickens about writing a series of fillers to accompany sporting illustrations by a well-known artist. Dickens convinced the firm that the illustrations should follow the text, rather than vice versa, and began writing the first installment of The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club, which appeared in April Writing in monthly installments was a mode of publication that proved congenial to Dickens. In the beginning it enabled him to continue his newspaper work and later to edit magazines. Writing for deadlines inflicted a lack of artistic coherence on his early novels, but eventually he was able to abandon his episodic structures and impose a tighter, more unified organization on his later novels.

The Pickwick Papers got off to a slow start, but with the introduction of Sam Weller its sales skyrocketed into the tens of thousands. A Pickwick rage started and Dickens' success was assured. On the surface this novel is a series of sketches, loosely held together by the adventures of Samuel Pickwick and his friends. Yet there are certain basic themes that unify the novel: the celebration of travel, benevolence, youthfulness, fellowship, plenty, romance; the contrast between the freedom of the open road and the constriction of Fleet Prison; the comic treatment of various institutions and professions; and the gradual revelation of Mr.

Pickwick's endearing humanity. With the prospect of a livable income, Dickens, at twenty-four, married Catherine Hogarth, the daughter of a newspaper colleague. The marriage was genuinely happy at first and there were ten children. Catherine seems to have been a gentle, loving woman, but rather commonplace and lethargic, without much aptitude for housekeeping or childrearing.

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Under the strain of personality conflicts, the steady pres-sure of Dickens' numerous activities, and his infatuation with Ellen Ternan, the couple separated twenty-two years later in disagreeable circumstances. Dickens' domestic life, in fact, was odd from the start. The man who sentimentalized marriage was prone to falling in love with other women, including his sisters-in-law. The relationship with Ellen Ternan may have begun platonically, but the evidence points to the fact that she eventually became his mistress.

Moreover, his treatment of his own children was harsh, even as he made his readers weep over the fates of innocent and victimized fictional children. This does not mean that Dickens was an out-and-out hypocrite. In his novels he projected what most men want at home — an affectionate, tidy, understanding, attentive wife. And he really knew what it meant to be a lost child in an incomprehensible world.

But like many hyperactive public men, Dickens was spoiled and impatient. He craved attention, and between his demands and those of his children, the marriage fell to pieces.

Charles Dickens

His writing was partly an attempt to redress his unsatisfactory personal life, and in doing so it appealed to many with similar discontents. While still working on his Pickwick Papers , Dickens contracted to write two more novels and started publishing Oliver Twist During this period he also worked on a second series of Sketches by Boz Oliver Twist marked a new departure for Dickens, presenting an attack on workhouse conditions and London's criminal-infested slums through the nightmarish experiences of an innocent young boy.

Oliver's trials are rewarded in the end when his claim to gentility is established once and for all. Before he had completed that novel, Dickens began Nicholas Nickleby , an exposure of private schools for unwanted boys. The hero this time actively seeks a gentlemanly position in life, whereas Oliver is a passive character. The private school, the slums, the workhouse are degrading conditions, analogous in some respects to prison. The only proper alternative is gentility. Dickens was extremely concerned with status, and in these two novels the drama centers upon those who try to deprive the hero of status and those who try to abet him.

Each of these novels was successful and increased Dickens' readership. Unquestionably Dickens had hit upon a theme which interested a large proportion of the English middle class. The next novel, The Old Curiosity Shop , increased Dickens' popularity still further and stunned the public with the sentimental death of Little Nell. The heroine's urge to leave the corrupt, threatening city and find a pastoral peace and security may represent a drive toward death.

London, for all its sinister aspects, is the center of vitality in the novel, while the countryside is rich in graveyards and moldering churches. Even at this early stage in his career Dickens was capable of ambiguous feelings about the central subjects of his novels. He wrote about things that made him uneasy, that raised serious questions in his mind.

His novels, in effect, were attempts to answer those questions about the city, prison, crime, success, and gentility. Time and again he came back to these subjects because his questions were of a kind that can never be answered conclusively.

By reworking the old themes, his art gained in subtlety, resonance, and depth. To the end of his career he never stopped growing. Barnaby Rudge centered on London's anti-Catholic riots of and examined the relationship between vicious or misguided fathers and the obtuse, selfish authority of public institutions.

Works of Charles Dickens by Charles Dickens

Just as youth must rebel against the former, so society at large rebels against the latter; but in rebelling everyone is harmed. In Dickens and his wife took a trip to America, which resulted in an unflattering travel book, American Notes , and in Martin Chuzzlewit ; this novel is flawed in structure, yet it explores various kinds of egoism with extraordinary verve.

In a world where egoism predominates, we get an anarchic view of society. Even the hero is infected with selfishness and his success in establishing himself in the world is very precarious. In America he meets egoism in its most predatory form and returns to England chastened and poverty-stricken. He may win at last through his grandfather's generosity but he clearly exists in a world where strife is ever ready to devour him. Despite the grim sound of these comments, the novel is actually a comic tour de force. Dombey and Son also has a flawed hero in Mr. The fault is inhuman pride of position, which undergoes three crises: the death of a son, the desertion by a proud wife, and the collapse of a financial empire.

Dickens uses this subject to show the changing Victorian world, and he balances Dombey's pride and the forces of change with the unchanging love of Dombey's daughter, Florence. Dombey and Son marks Dickens' first major attempt to portray English society realistically. This novel is technically superior to his earlier works, but the comic inventiveness is not nearly as flamboyant.

As Dickens' organizing skill grew in his succeeding novels, the comic flair diminished, transforming itself into satire. For his eighth novel, David Copperfield , he made use of autobiographical material. Copperfield's early hardship and rise to prominence is a thinly disguised version of Dickens' own life.