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Bleak House by Charles Dickens

Bleak House (original 1853; edition 1999)

by Charles Dickens, Simon Vance (Narrator)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
8,944176336 (4.21)4 / 1151
Title:Bleak House
Authors:Charles Dickens
Other authors:Simon Vance (Narrator)
Info:Blackstone Audio (1999), Edition: Audiobook CD, Audio CD
Collections:Read but unowned
Tags:audiobook, Chancery, wills

Work details

Bleak House by Charles Dickens (1853)


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English (169)  Spanish (2)  Catalan (2)  Danish (1)  German (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (176)
Showing 1-5 of 169 (next | show all)
Addictive. The whole Esther and her guardian and Allan triangle was a bit disturbing, but I loved everything else. I was so glad that Sir Leicester took the stance that he did and the ultimate fate of Jarndyce v Jarndyce was perfect. ( )
  pgchuis | Jan 27, 2016 |
Wasn't as impressed with this novel as I was with Tales and GE. This one seemed to ramble a bit more and took some time to uncomplicate the different plots before a complete picture could come into focus. ( )
  tmscott13 | Jan 23, 2016 |
So this is considered by many to be Dickens' finest work. Considering that it was originally serialized and has so many subplots, that readers of the day could remember what happened in the issues a year before. I had to refer to a synopsis to keep track of who interacted with who and how. I think it may be more enjoyable to read in sections in a class where you could discuss it. It was not very enjoyable straight through read for me. ( )
  Jen.ODriscoll.Lemon | Jan 23, 2016 |
So this is considered by many to be Dickens' finest work. Considering that it was originally serialized and has so many subplots, that readers of the day could remember what happened in the issues a year before. I had to refer to a synopsis to keep track of who interacted with who and how. I think it may be more enjoyable to read in sections in a class where you could discuss it. It was not very enjoyable straight through read for me. ( )
  Jen.ODriscoll.Lemon | Jan 23, 2016 |
I've been a fan of Dickens since eight-year-old me discovered that "Marley was... as dead as a doornail;" in fact, I fully blame Dickens for several of my Victorian era lit classics binges throughout the years. A love, burgeoning or fully grown, for Dickensian wit and social satire is oft the struck chord that creates a distinct urge to reach out for more (and more). The heady simpatico taste of a Dickens' tome certainly has a lot to do with a logomania camaraderie. Oh, the words. The words! However, Word Lovers United™* aside, what I truly love about the Dickens' works I've experienced so far is that I'm constantly getting something new out of them. Like the Hans Brinker from folklore, I tend to get the sense that I'm standing at the side of a dam with my finger on the flow and I'll end up with whatever I'll allow through. Or, for a modern take, I'll go with Shrek's take on onions: they have layers!

That's the merit factor for me; the depth of the story, of Dickens' empathy and opinions, of the references that flesh out the world of both author and characters. All of which culminate in a work that makes you truly feel the weight of it as an experience had - as if each word simply bulges with it. It's this that keeps such a work relevant in my opinion.

So, in this reading of Bleak House since I hope there will be several more to come, I found myself most captivated by Jo's plight of moving on and the rippling riptide of Chancery. Jo was my emotional Twist twist. "Please sir..." where should I move, sir. Dickens knowing how to haunt both the soles and souls of even the modern human:

"'My instructions are that you are to move on. I've told you so five hundred times!'
'But where?' cries the boy.
'My instructions don't go to that...move on!'
Do you hear, Jo?... The one grand recipe remains for you- the profound philosophical prescription- the be all & end all of your strange existence upon earth. Move on! You are by no means to move off, Jo, for the great lights can't at all agree about that. Move on!"

He's also quite the master of encapsulation and metaphor. From character to character we have these revolving spheres of motion, action, inaction, emotion that give us insight to the whole. It's this interconnected style that I find absolutely fascinating (and that keeps my list of characters pretty well thumbed through).

Not wanting to emulate Dickens in a review of, well, Dickens, I'll keep it short and sweet. This is an easy new favorite. The wit and wisdom being balanced with a plot that I found pretty interesting as we encounter characters arcs diverging and a bit of a caper-esque (timing, timing, timing) climax that, though not the crux of the work, certainly adds intrigue. While not all characters made a significant impression on me this time around - that's kind of the beauty of want I've rambled about so much here. On another read through I'm sure I'll find even more to sink into.

*A fascinating group, really. We never get anywhere though; everyone talks too much. ( )
  lemotamant898 | Jan 18, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 169 (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 (83 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Charles Dickensprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Cuzik, Davidmain authorall editionsconfirmed
Swan, D.K.main 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
Johnson, EdgarIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Miller, J. HillisIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nabokov, VladimirContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nicholson, MilNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Page, NormanEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sitwell, Sir OsbertIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Solomon, AbrahamCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zabel, MortonIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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.
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.
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Wikipedia in English


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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:42 -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 28 descriptions

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

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141439726, 0141199091

Tantor Media

2 editions of this book were published by Tantor Media.

Editions: 1400102642, 1400109086

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