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Bleak House by Charles Dickens
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Bleak House (original 1853; edition 1999)

by Charles Dickens, Simon Vance (Narrator)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
8,162None382 (4.23)4 / 1035
Member:gypsysmom
Title:Bleak House
Authors:Charles Dickens
Other authors:Simon Vance (Narrator)
Info:Blackstone Audio (1999), Edition: Audiobook CD, Audio CD
Collections:Read but unowned
Rating:****1/2
Tags:audiobook, Chancery, wills

Work details

Bleak House by Charles Dickens (1853)

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English (147)  Spanish (2)  Danish (1)  Finnish (1)  German (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (153)
Showing 1-5 of 147 (next | show all)
My first thought upon finishing this book was sweet, sweet relief. I finally finished it! It sat on my shelf and stared at me for over a year but I finally did it!

But, really, it was so good! I am suspicious of Dickens, mostly due to my unceasing hatred of Great Expectations and there were parts of Bleak House when I thought this might go the way of Pip. But even though it's a million pages, it was interesting and wonderful and I was flying through because I NEEDED to know what would happen. Also, Esther is amazing - her narrative was hands down the best part of the book and she is probably my favorite Dickens character.

Anyway, there is so much going on and there is no way I am going to summarize it, but you should definitely read it especially since you tyrannically forced me to write this review (BRYAN).

Finally, if you have the penguin classic (as I did), be forewarned that the notes have major spoilers! I know you can't exactly spoil the classics but it still was very uncool. ( )
  amy_marie26 | Apr 9, 2014 |
Definitely among the upper tier of the Dickens I have read, but nonetheless a tough slogs for me -- especially as compared with David Copperfield, A Tale of Two Cities, and Great Expectations. About page 400 I began to skim, in point of fact.

This Everyman edition is notable for a point in the foreword which is almost an intentional parody of academic study of literature:

"
"Esther is a descendant of another housekeeping woman, Agnes in David Copperfield, and shows Dickens weakness for that angel in the house. Modern men and new men should prefer the chaos of the Jellyby house, and approve Mrs. Jellyby's interest in the Third World,"
  ben_a | Mar 30, 2014 |
After this second attempt, I have decided that Bleak House will remain unfinished, at least in print form. The chapters narrated by Esther are easier to read than the omniscient narrator chapters, but the whole story is becoming a slog. It could just be bad timing as well; this year has been a bad one for getting bogged down in huge books. If you're really interested in the story, the 2005 adaptation starring Gillian Anderson as Lady Dedlock would probably be more satisfying than reading the book. ( )
  rabbitprincess | Mar 5, 2014 |
1999, Blackstone Audiobooks, Read by Robert Whitfield

Bleak House is a long, sweeping novel (I don’t think Dickens writes another kind), which took me considerable time to get through but was entirely worth the effort. I needed to remember that Dickens, for me, is always a long, slow, quiet read; that established, I settled in comfortably for the long haul. I part-read and part-listened to Bleak House; shout out goes to Robert Whitfield who does an exemplary job of this Blackstone audiobook – he reads Dickens’ host of characters flawlessly, from homeless, illiterate urchin to arrogant lawyer.

The first chapters introduce a profusion of characters, and keeping them straight sent me to CliffsNotes on more than one occasion. However, true to form, Dickens introduces not a single one of them needlessly; all play a role in spinning the tale that is Bleak House. The characters are as varied as they are numerous; and the intricate web that eventually ties them all one to the other is impressive.

The main plot of the novel is a scathing social criticism of the ineffectiveness and ineptitude of England’s Chancery Court. Dickens declares the legal system to have failed utterly and completely in bringing justice; exhaustive court costs and legal fees have ruined the lives of many. Fast forward to present day, and I needed to ask myself what, if anything, has changed. Tom Jarndyce explains:

“’The lawyers have twisted it into such a state of bedevilment that the original merits of the case have long disappeared from the face of the earth. It’s about a will and the trusts under a will – or it was once. It’s about nothing but costs now. We are always appearing, and disappearing, and swearing, and interrogating, and filing, and cross-filing, and arguing, and sealing, and motioning, and referring, and reporting, and revolving about the Lord Chancelor and all his satellites, and equitably waltzing ourselves off to dusty death, about costs.’”
(ch 8)

Of course, Bleak House is about much more than the failed Chancery. Dickens masterfully uses his cast to inform of, among other things, the inequities of social class: poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, domestic abuse – to name but a few. Indeed, I think he could not have nailed the inadequacies of our modern society any better supposing he’d had a crystal ball.

Timeless, a true classic – highly recommended. ( )
  lit_chick | Feb 23, 2014 |
Bought the Penguin edition and and the audio as well. ( )
  Turrean | Feb 15, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 147 (next | show all)
Bleak House represents the author at a perfectly poised late-middle moment in his extraordinary art.
 
You have to embrace Bleak House for what it is – a rambling, confusing, verbose, over-populated, vastly improbable story which substitutes caricatures for people and is full of puns. In other words, an 800-page Dickens novel.
added by tim.taylor | editThe Millions, Janet Potter (Jan 31, 2011)
 

» Add other authors (84 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Charles Dickensprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Barrett, SeanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bradbury, NicolaEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Browne, Hablôt K.Illustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Case, DavidNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Chesterton, Gilbert KeithIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dickson, HughNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Eagleton, TerryPrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Eikli, RagnhildTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gallagher, TeresaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Holway, TatianaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Miller, J. HillisIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nicholson, MilNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Page, NormanEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sitwell, Sir OsbertIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Solomon, AbrahamCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
Dedicated, as a remembrance of our friendly union, to my companions in the guild of literature and art

Dedication of the 1853 edition
First words
London. Michaelmas term lately over, and the Lord Chancellor sitting in Lincoln's Inn Hall.
Quotations
This world of ours has its limits too (as Your Highness shall find when you have made the tour of it, and are come to the brink of the void beyond).
His family is as old as the hills, and infinitely more respectable. He has a general opinion that the world might get on without hills, but would be done up without Dedlocks. He would on the whole admit Nature to be a good idea (a little low, perhaps, when not enclosed with a park-fence), but an idea dependent for its execution on your great county families.
Indeed, he married her for love. A whisper still goes about, that she had not even family; howbeit, Sir Leicester had so much family that perhaps he had enough, and could dispense with any more.
He is of what is called the old school - a phrase generally meaning any school that seems never to have been young.
He must confess to two of the oldest infirmities in the world: one was, that he had no idea of time; the other, that he had no idea of money.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Widely regarded as Dickens’s masterpiece, Bleak House centers on the generations-long lawsuit Jarndyce and Jarndyce, through which “whole families have inherited legendary hatreds.” Focusing on Esther Summerson, a ward of John Jarndyce, the novel traces Esther’s romantic coming-of-age and, in classic Dickensian style, the gradual revelation of long-buried secrets, all set against the foggy backdrop of the Court of Chancery. Mixing romance, mystery, comedy, and satire, Bleak House limns the suffering caused by the intricate inefficiency of the law.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0141439726, Paperback)

Bleak House is a satirical look at the Byzantine legal system in London as it consumes the minds and talents of the greedy and nearly destroys the lives of innocents--a contemporary tale indeed. Dickens's tale takes us from the foggy dank streets of London and the maze of the Inns of Court to the peaceful countryside of England. Likewise, the characters run from murderous villains to virtuous girls, from a devoted lover to a "fallen woman," all of whom are affected by a legal suit in which there will, of course, be no winner. The first-person narrative related by the orphan Esther is particularly sweet. The articulate reading by the acclaimed British actor Paul Scofield, whose distinctive broad English accent lends just the right degree of sonority and humor to the text, brings out the color in this classic social commentary disguised as a Victorian drama. However, to abridge Dickens is, well, a Dickensian task, the results of which make for a story in which the author's convoluted plot lines and twists of fate play out in what seems to be a fast-forward format. Listeners must pay close attention in order to keep up with the multiple narratives and cast of curious characters, including the memorable Inspector Bucket and Mr. Guppy. Fortunately, the publisher provides a partial list of characters on the inside jacket. (Running time: 3 hours; 2 cassettes)

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:29:48 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

Bleak House, Dickens's most daring experiment in the narration of a complex plot, challenges the reader to make connections - between the fashionable and the outcast, the beautiful and the ugly, the powerful and the victims. Nowhere in Dickens's later novels is his attack on an uncaring society more imaginatively embodied, but nowhere either is the mixture of comedy and angry satire more deftly managed. Bleak House defies a single description. It is a mystery story, in which Esther Summerson discovers the truth about her birth and her unknown mother's tragic life. It is a murder story, which comes to a climax in a thrilling chase, led by one of the earliest detectives in English fiction, Inspector Bucket. And it is a fable about redemption, in which a bleak house is transformed by the resilience of human love.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 20 descriptions

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Audible.com

23 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

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Penguin Australia

Two editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141439726, 0141199091

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