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Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens
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Nicholas Nickleby (original 1836; edition 1986)

by Charles Dickens (Author), Christopher hibbert (Introduction), Charles Keeping (Illustrator)

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5,236721,231 (3.94)1 / 367
Member:folio_books
Title:Nicholas Nickleby
Authors:Charles Dickens (Author)
Other authors:Christopher hibbert (Introduction), Charles Keeping (Illustrator)
Info:Folio Society (1986)
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:Folio Society

Work details

Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens (1836)

  1. 40
    David Copperfield by Charles Dickens (aces)
  2. 20
    The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman by Laurence Sterne (roby72)
  3. 10
    The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens (souloftherose)
    souloftherose: Both books are early Dickens' novels and written in an episodic, picaresque style. Although Nicholas Nickleby is more plot-driven than The Pickwick Papers and contains some darker themes, both works are fundamentally happy Dickens novels and readers who enjoy one would probably enjoy the other.… (more)
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This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Nicholas Nickleby
Series: ----------
Author: Charles Dickens
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Classic
Pages: 1029
Format: Digital Edition

Synopsis:


Nicholas Nickleby dies of a broken heart after speculating all his families money and losing it. He dies and leaves behind a wife and his young son Nicholas and a younger daugher Kate. He leaves them to the tender mercies of his brother Ralph, a rich money lender.

Ralph sends Nicholas to a school master as an aide with the promise that Ralph will take care of Mrs Nickleby and Kate as long as Nicholas stays the course. Said schoolmaster, one Wackford Squeers, is in cahoots with Ralph on various usurous objectives that Ralph has in mind. Squeers uses and abuses his charges and also gets free labor from a simple minded orphan named Smikes. When Squeers begin to beat Smikes almost to death, Nicholas intervenes even though he knows it means his Uncle Ralph will kick his Mother and sister out onto the streets.

Nicholas and Smikes join an actors troupe to earn a living. Nicholas receives a letter from an employee of his Uncle begging him to come back to London.

During this time, Ralph had used his niece Kate as bate to entice a young lord to get money from him. Kate begs her Uncle to spare her the shame of such a thing but Ralph will not relent. Money is his god.

Nicholas returns to London, defies his Uncle, starts a new job with the Cheeryble brothers. He comes across a beautiful young woman and has to contend with his Uncle and Wackford Squeers trying to kidnap Smikes. Many schemes of Ralph all come together around Nicholas and with the help of various friends, Nicholas overcomes all and sees Ralph ruined.

Nicholas marries the beautiful young lady, Kate marries Frank Cheeryble, the nephew of the Cheeryble brothers and everything works out well for the good guys and the bad guys all get their just desserts.

My Thoughts:

First, let's deal with something here. Wackford Squeers. I have been saying that name in dulcet tones for the last 2 weeks. I mean, how PERFECT is that name for a villain? Wackford Squeers, Wackford Squeers, Wackford Squeers. This could probably have been a 5star book just on the strength of that name alone. Thankfully, the rest of the book carries its weight as well.

The characters, all of them, are fantastic. From youthful, hotheaded and sometimes silly Nicholas to grasping, hate filled Uncle Ralph to poor, pathetic, heart breaking and sympathy inducing Smikes to cruel, petty and cowardly Wackford Squeers. Dickens doesn't just write ABOUT these characters, he brings them to life, in all their glorious ups and downs. I know that Dickens is shamelessly manipulating me with how he describes poor Smikes but I don't care because he does it so well. My heart broke for the poor wretch even while I KNEW that Dickens was doing this cold heartedly to bring about just such a reaction from me. And Wackford Squeers, my goodness, such a vile pot of avarice, cowardice and bulliness that I loved to hate him. Plus, singing his name to the tune of ♪Davey,♪ Davey Crockett,♪King of the Wild Frontier♪ fit perfectly and almost had me dancing with glee.

The trials and tribulations of Nicholas, Kate, various other side characters, all tie into a wondrous tapestry that simply enchanted me. Now, this being Dickens, and originally serialized, and Dickens being paid by the word, there were times that I was tempted to skim or let my mind wonder during some of the more descriptive pages or while Mrs Nickleby would wax eloquent about something that nobody cared about, but I overcame and read every word and I must say, I am richer for it. While Dickens isn't by any means a sparse writer, neither is he a wasteful writer. His descriptions bring the people walking the street alive. His words make the characters as real as real can be. When I was tempted to simply skip anything involving Mrs Nickleby and her pointless reminisces and get annoyed by her, it was what Dickens was aiming for. He wanted a character just like that and he created her from thin air.

While I gave this 5stars back in '07 and 5 stars again, I don't know if I'd recommend anyone starting their exploration of Dickens with this or not. First off, it is over 1000pages for the entire novel. Even the broken up edition I read back in '07 was almost 600 pages for each volume. However, thanks to the likes of Sanderson, Martin and Co, the Mega-Novel (trademark pending) is becoming main stream and the mere size of Dickens might not be quite the impediment it would have been even 20 years ago. The other thing would be this showcases the Victorian ideals to a T(ea) (haha!!!!) and that might be off putting those of modern culture. Nicholas not pursuing Madeline Bray because it wouldn't be proper as he wasn't of the same class anymore (she was monied while the Nickleby's weren't anymore) and Nicholas persuading his sister Kate to not accept Frank Cheeryble's proposal (at first) because it wouldn't look right since Nicholas worked for the Cheeryble Uncles. It is very much outside the egalitarian ideas we carry around today that I can see it turning people away. Now, that being said, anyone who IS turned off from Dickens because of something like that doesn't deserve to read the Master anyway. So no great loss.

After arguing with myself in the above paragraph, I have realized this book not only gets my unadulterated acclamation, but my highest recommendation AND the first of the year Best Book of the Year tag. I wish I could praise this book more, I really do but this will have to do.

Sincerely,
Bookstooge

★★★★★ ( )
1 vote BookstoogeLT | Jul 30, 2018 |
I’m really not sure why I like Dickens so much. He is predictable, there will be coincidences that could never happen in the real world, and in the end everyone will get their just deserts except for the poor, sad creature who is destined to see heaven ahead of his time. Ah, but he does it with so much style and panache. He creates characters you are seldom ambivalent about, dastardly villains you can feel no compassion for, and good people who restore your faith in humanity.

In Nicholas Nickleby, as in all his novels, Dickens has a full grasp of the class system of his time and the conditions of the poor. He never fails to illustrate that money brings its own unhappiness for some, and that true value is found in character and dignity, devotion and love. When a Dickens character is at the mercy of the world, you can bet he will see the worst and best sides of humanity rearing their heads.

Nicholas Nickleby has its share of Dickens humor as well. Mrs. Nickleby is a bit of a buffoon, who is saved from herself by the good sense of her children. I will admit that there are times when she is almost too much. There is Newman Noggs, who is sure to remain a favorite for me because he is good without any obligation to be so. He gives from a position in which there is very little to be given and made me chuckle more than once when snipping at the horrible Uncle Ralph. I dare say, most of us would hoard our coins and protect our position in Nogg’s situation, and yet he puts his neck and meager fortune on the line for friendship.

We should all like to think that somewhere in our world there are people like Charles and Ned Cheeryble. They live up to their names, for no two cheerier people could there be in this world and they certainly spread the cheer everywhere. They seem to be proof that goodness is its own reward.

Another thing I love about Dickens, his ability to touch upon the thin divide between our world and that of the departed. ”It is an exquisite and beautiful thing in our nature, that when the heart is touched and softened by some tranquil happiness or affectionate feeling, the memory of the dead comes over it most powerfully and irresistibly. I t would almost seem as though our better thoughts and sympathies were charms, in virtue of which the soul is enable to hold some vague and mysterious intercourse with the spirits of those whom we dearly loved in life.” I found this observation remarkably accurate.

I have discovered that reading Dickens slowly brings out the best in his writing. I languished over his descriptions of people and places and took my time over his hilarious conversations. If you pay close attention, you can see 1840s London through his eyes. The lessons of his time are the lesson of today, where so many seem to think money and possessions outweigh personal connections and love of humanity. It is good for the soul to read Dickens.

Up next, some Christmas stories and the annual reading of A Christmas Carol. Next year I am planning to fit in three more Dickens novels: Hard Times, Little Dorrit and Pickwick Papers. It is going slowly, but that is fine, since it means there will be Dickens’ yet to come for a long, long time.
( )
  phantomswife | Jul 6, 2018 |
Nicholas Nickleby does appear quite a lot in the story but he isn't quite the character that makes things happen, like David Copperfield and Little Dorrit. When he tries to change things, he is always rash. His sister Kate is a more admirable character than him, standing up to their uncle (not to say that Nicholas doesn't) and always trying to maintain her dignity. Nicholas owes a lot to the Cheerybles and even Newman Noggs. Nevertheless, it is still a classic good Dickens book, abounding with delicious scenes, interesting characters and its share of coincidences. It also has more than its fair share of garrulous women. ( )
  siok | Mar 30, 2018 |
I read this for my classic lit book club. I had been wanting to read Dickens for a while, so I was glad when somebody picked this. I had only ever read Great Expectations in high school. I didn't like it then, but I was hoping age and maturity would make a difference in reading Dickens now. Nope. Not with Nicholas Nickleby anyway. I really suffered through it. Dickens is just way too wordy for my liking. I don't care for authors who take a whole page to make a point that could have been done in a few sentences. My other big complaint about this book, and apparently this is common in all Dickens books, is the ridiculous number of characters. I felt like three new characters were introduced in each chapter! But for real, there were about 60 characters in this book. That is crazy. Who can keep track of that many characters?

I think I am starting to realize that I really don't care for novels that were originally written as a serial. They just don't "flow" like normal novels. You can tell they are really more like mini stories all put together. I especially disliked the flow of Nicholas Nickleby. The story was very linear, going from one storyline onto the next and they didn't really relate to each other that much.

I really struggled thr0ugh this one and am not looking forward to reading more Dickens. He's just not for me. ( )
  Aseleener | Mar 24, 2018 |
Nicholas Nickleby is the tale of a young man whose father has died leaving his family penniless. Nicholas must find a job to support his mother and sister, Kate. The family turns for help to their uncle, Ralph Nickleby, a ruthless businessman, who has taken a dislike to his relatives. Nicholas, aided by many diverse characters, must protect his family from his uncle’s machinations.

Nicholas Nickleby was the third book written by Charles Dickens, and it was published in serial form monthly in 1838 and 1839 before being published as a book in 1839.

At first, I found the book very readable. As with many books written in the 1800s, the prose tends to be very wordy, and the style of the language is more stilted and formal than in books written more recently. However, I feel that Dickens’ style is perhaps a little more casual than some authors of that time which made reading the book more enjoyable. I felt there were a lot of descriptive passages in the book that could have been edited, making the book more streamlined. After a while, I felt that I got bogged down in the detail which made it somewhat less enjoyable to read. Also, Dickens introduces many characters throughout the book who really do not have a bearing on the overall tale. The characters seem to be part of amusing anecdotes used as filler to keep the serial going as long as possible. I felt that there was a lot of buildup to a climax, and then the story just petered out with minimal wrap-up compared to the amount of buildup. For instance, we learn much about two aristocratic gentlemen and also a family of performers, none of whom figure largely at the end of the story, but there is very little to be learned about the future spouses of both Nicholas and Kate, even though they would have more bearing on the longer story.

Please skip the next paragraph as there are spoilers contained. I felt that there were some inconsistencies in how certain characters reacted. Nicholas seemed to be a very kind and honorable young man; however, at the beginning of the story, he seems to have a terrible temper which gets him into trouble. Not long afterward, he seems to have matured, and there is little reason for this given by the author. He may have realized the error of his ways, but Dickens did not see fit to mention this. Also, Ralph Nickleby is portrayed as a mean and heartless man. He finds that he has a son who was ill-treated before he was befriended by the Nickleby family and has now died. Because of this Ralph commits suicide, which seems very out of character.

I did enjoy the classic good-triumphs over evil storyline. I also enjoyed meeting the many and varied characters introduced by Dickens, although there were a lot to keep track of. Dickens does a fabulous job of fleshing out some of the characters, but he does leave other characters feeling flat. ( )
  rretzler | Jan 29, 2018 |
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» Add other authors (183 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Charles Dickensprimary authorall editionscalculated
Browne, Hablot KnightIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ford, MarkContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jennings, AlexNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Knox, Christina F.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Maclise, DanielCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nicholson, MilNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Parker, DavidEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schlicke, PaulEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Slater, MichaelIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thorndike, Dame SybilIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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There once lived, in a sequestered part of the county of Devonshire, one Mr Godfrey Nickleby: a worthy gentleman, who, taking it into his head rather late in life that he must get married, and not being young enough or rich enough to aspire to the hand of a lady of fortune, had wedded an old flame out of mere attachment, who in her turn had taken him for the same reason.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140435123, Paperback)

When Nicholas Nickleby is left penniless after his father’s death, he appeals to his wealthy uncle to help him find work and to protect his mother and sister. But Ralph Nickleby proves both hard-hearted and unscrupulous, and Nicholas finds himself forced to make his own way in the world.

Nicholas’s adventures gave Dickens the opportunity to portray a extraordinary gallery of rogues and eccentrics: Wackford Squeers, tyrannical headmaster of Dotheboys Hall, a school for unwanted boys; the slow-witted orphan Smike, rescued by Nicholas; and the gloriously theatrical Mr and Mrs Crummle, and their daughter, the ‘infant phenomenon’. Like many of Dickens’s novels, Nicholas Nickleby is characterized by his outrage at cruelty and social injustice, but it is also a flamboyantly exuberant work, revealing Dickens’s comic genius at its most unerring.

Mark Ford’s introduction compares Nicholas Nickleby to eighteenth-century picaresque novels, and examines Dickens’s criticism of the ‘Yorkshire Schools’, his social satire and use of language. This edition also includes the original illustrations by ‘Phiz’, a chronology and a list for further reading.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:07 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

CLASSIC FICTION. This novel includes an introduction and notes by Dr T.C.B. Cook, and illustrations by Hablot K. Browne (Phiz). Following the success of "Pickwick Papers" and "Oliver Twist", "Nicholas Nickleby" was hailed as a comic triumph and firmly established Dickens as a 'literary gentleman'. It has a full supporting cast of delectable characters that range from the iniquitous Wackford Squeers and his family, to the delightful Mrs Nickleby, taking in the eccentric Crummles and his travelling players, the Mantalinis, the Kenwigs and many more. Combining these with typically Dickensian elements of burlesque and farce, the novel is eminently suited to dramatic adaptation. So great was the impact as it left Dickens' pen that many pirated versions appeared in print before the original was even finished. .… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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