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Bleak House by Charles Dickens

Bleak House (original 1853; edition 2010)

by Charles Dickens

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Title:Bleak House
Authors:Charles Dickens
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Bleak House by Charles Dickens (1853)


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English (155)  Spanish (2)  Danish (1)  Finnish (1)  German (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (161)
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It's a heavy volume of 1034 pages (that includes the intro and many appendices).

What is the Bleak House? It is an old mansion, home of John Jarndyce and his three wards: Ester, Ada and Richard. It is also the squalid conditions of Tom's-All-Alone. It is the bleak out come of Jarndyce vs. Jarndyce. It is the Victorian shame of an illegimate child. There are many bleak houses in this book.

Bleak House carries a warning against the excesses of nuisance suits and the danger of a laissez-faire government which it wraps up in a delightful albeit complex and dense comedic romance of a young woman supposedly orphaned and sent to live with her guardian who is stuck in a generations long lawsuit over an estate. Interestingly, I recently read an American story that obviously borrowed heavily from Bleak House. To anyone who enjoys Bleak House, I recommend The Big Mogul by Joseph C. Lincoln. ( )
  pussreboots | Sep 16, 2014 |
Not the strongest of his plots, but still a very good book. A good condemnation of the civil justice system. I absolutely saw the ending coming though. The spontaneous combustion was a little weird -- what it had to with anything, I'm not sure. What it boils down to, though, is that I really liked Esther and her scenes carried the book. Richard should have been slapped around and Ada needed a mega dose of reality, but many of the other characters were pure Dickensian classics, whether you loved them, hated them or cried with them. ( )
  AliceAnna | Sep 9, 2014 |
Had it's good moments but overall it suffers from the same problem as all Dickens, it's too long. ( )
  Evalangui | Aug 22, 2014 |
The main character is actually likeable despite being the "perfect" female character. She's humble, made of love, and takes care of everybody around her. Good story. ( )
  krista.rutherford | Aug 10, 2014 |
Bleak House takes place in 19th century England at a time when the chancery court system was full of controversy. The courts were criticized and mocked for the delays within the litigations and the story is based on one such litigation.

Esther Summerson was raised by her aunt, unbeknownst to her, and is treated as a worthless burden. Upon her aunts death she is given to John Jarndyce and eventually moves in to Bleak house with him and his wards, Richard and Ada. The two are beneficiaries in an ongoing litigation that is caught up in the chancery court system because of conflicting wills.

Lady Dedlock is also a beneficiary in one of the wills and is married to Sir Leicester Dedlock. She is the mother of Esther although the two are unaware of their connection since Lady Dedlock was told that her child died upon birth. Sir Leicester is unaware of his wife’s past love affair which was with a sailor by the name of Captain Hawdon or “Nemo”. Nemo dies as a pauper and Lady Dedlock hears of his death and travels to see his grave paying Jo, a homeless boy to show her to his gravesite.

Richard and Ada fall in love and are secretly married but Richard’s health declines because of his obsession over the court case. Dr. Woodcourt who knows Richard from an internship, is taking care of Richard. Dr. Woodcourt secretly loves Esther and the feelings are mutual but Esther is promised to John Jarndyce her guardian and does not pursue a relationship. Lady Dedlock and Esther come to realize their connection but keep it secret.

As the story progresses Hortense, Lady Declock’s maid and Tulkinghorn, Sir Leicester’s lawyer,discover Lady Declock’s past. They confront her and she flees, leaving her husband a note apologizing for her misdeeds. However, Hortense after being dismissed by Tulkinghorn feels betrayed and murders him and sets it up to appear that Lady Dedlock has done the deed. Sir Leicester upon hearing the news of his wife’s departure and death of his lawyer has a stroke yet survives. He enlists inspector Bucket to search for his wife and bring her back to him because he forgives her for any wrong doing. Inspector Bucket and Esther set on a search for Lady Dedlock only to find that she has gone to the grave of Nemo her ex-lover and died. Esther is devastated but Dr. Woodcourt comes to her aid.

The chancery case takes a turn when a new will comes to the surface that postdates any of the other wills and leaves the bulk of the inheritance to Richard and Ada. However, because of the costs involved they are left with nothing which is too much for Richard to bare and he succumbs to his illness and dies, leaving Ada a widow and pregnant. John Jarndyc e realizes the mutual attraction of Dr. Woodcourt and Esther and renounces his ties to her and gives his blessing that they should be married providing them with a small estate. Ada with her child eventually returns to Bleak house to live once again with John Jarndyce.

The story is filled with many minor plots and characters and takes some adjusting to follow each subplot through. In the end it was worth the read and quite enjoyable. ( )
  vibrantminds | Aug 8, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 155 (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
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
Nabokov, VladimirContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nicholson, MilNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Page, NormanEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sitwell, Sir OsbertIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Solomon, AbrahamCover artistsecondary 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 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)

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24 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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