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The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens
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The Pickwick Papers (edition 2012)

by Charles Dickens

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5,91490706 (3.88)271
Member:Cecrow
Title:The Pickwick Papers
Authors:Charles Dickens
Info:ReadHowYouWant (2012), Paperback, 516 pages
Collections:Your library, Favorites
Rating:*****
Tags:classic, humour, easy reading, Dickens

Work details

The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens

  1. 40
    Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (keremix)
  2. 30
    Master Humphrey's Clock and A Child's History of England by Charles Dickens (Cecrow)
    Cecrow: Pickwick and the Wellers appear again in this collected serial, in a framing story supporting numerous short works as well as the novels The Old Curiosity Shop and Barnaby Rudge.
  3. 41
    Nicholas Nickleby 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)
  4. 11
    London Lavender by E. V. Lucas (Porua)
    Porua: E.V. Lucas’ London Lavender is the only book I can think of that comes close to the sprawling labyrinth of various narratives and its narrator's humorous but good-natured commentary about it all of Charles Dickens' The Pickwick Papers. I certainly had the same contented feeling after reading London Lavender that I did with The Pickwick Papers.… (more)
  5. 02
    The Darling Buds of May by H. E. Bates (thorold)
    thorold: Pop Larkin and Mr Pickwick are both Londoners who find rural idylls in Kent, and both big fans of tomato sauce, but there's also a deeper connection between these two great comic celebrations of the pleasures of lower-middle-class "vulgarity".
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There’s something about Dickens’s prose which has always made me feel connected. Connected to the past, connected to the country we share, connected to human nature in all its foibles. Because next to his anger, that’s one of Dickens’s most memorable traits for me as a reader: The perfect reflection, unchanged by all the many intervening years, of every angle of the many-faceted human spirit. The anger will come soon, in the next of his novels, Oliver Twist; here in The Pickwick Papers it’s a muted thing. This first, most comic of his novels is rooted in that latter quality, his insight.

It’s not what I thought I was in for when I went blindly into the buffoonery of the opening at the club. Mr. Pickwick initially comes across as deludedly self-important, and his travelling companions almost sycophantic, a far cry from his eventual gentle self-assuredness and the role of a substitute father that he adopts in the lives of his young club members. That opening, though, seems to exist more to tap its nose at the pompousness of the gentlemen’s clubs of the day than to create any kind of sympathetic connection between reader and Pickwickian.

It’s after Dingley Dell is in their rear view and the first betrayal of Jingle’s has left a crack or three in Pickwick’s naïveté that he and his companions develop more believeable personhood, and the novel begins to flow much better. It’s helped immensely both by the introduction of Sam Weller, whose dry wit and ignorance of gentlemen’s society yet worldliness among the lower echelons makes him a much-needed contrast for Pickwick’s starch and (ever-endangered) propriety, and by the gradual transition of the comedy from farcical to theatrical.

Once that transition takes place, I found myself laughing frequently at the unexpectedly gentle but sly humour that pervades the middle of the novel. I certainly knew Dickens had wit, but in his later novels it’s never something that has struck me as the laugh out loud kind of wit; rather, as something cutting and often acerbic, a thin veil over his anger at the injustices society perpetuated against the poor, the orphaned or abandoned.

It’s not as though those injustices are not tackled in The Pickwick Papers -- during the experience of Pickwick’s incarceration in the debtors’ prison, Dickens pulls no punches in his wrenching examination of the lives of the poorest and longest-term debtors -- but unlike the opening chapters of Oliver Twist, which drip with caustic commentary on the ill-treatment of the poor orphans, the portrayal here of 19th century injustices feels sorrowful rather than fiery. And although the protagonists of some of Dickens’s other novels are almost too angelic to be true, Pickwick, fortunately, receives no such rose-coloured glasses treatment even in his time of suffering. His imprisonment holds a mirror up to his pride: Is it correct for a man, even a wrongly accused one, to allow others to be denied a mentor, an employer, a father-figure, a friend, in order only to prevent the loss of such pride?

Some of Dickens’s novels suffer to varying degrees from the serialised forms in which they were initially published, but I think The Pickwick Papers benefits from it. It holds together well as a novel, albeit a better one after mostly ditching the framing device of the club, yet the rambling way in which it arrives at a point, much less an end point, allows for the very natural-seeming insertion of many asides. One of my favourites is the story of Gabriel Grub and the goblins, alongside an escapade which evokes Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.

An area where the book falls down is in its depiction of women. I wouldn’t call Dickens a particularly accomplished writer of female characters in general, though in later novels I think that the women do benefit from his particular insights into people and their motivations -- and of course, many of them appear as loving immortalisations of his sister-in-law -- but no one is about to confuse him with George Eliot. It’s too egregious to ignore in The Pickwick Papers, however, which sees more histrionics than a hen house full of cats. It becomes something of a novelty to get through a female character’s appearance without any incidences of fainting, crying, throwing herself to the ground kicking and screaming, or other behaviour best befitting a toddler.

All in all, it’s not about to go down as my favourite Dickens book, but I am very glad I read it. I took far more pleasure from it than the opening left me thinking I would, and it marks a very interesting point in Dickens’s development as a writer.

Review from Bookette.net ( )
  Snumpus | Aug 10, 2016 |
Probably my favourite Dickens novel that I've read so far. Full of wonderful characters and very funny situations, it shows it's serious side later in the story, with the descriptions set within the Fleet - a notorious debtors prison.
It also has some wonderful stories and poems within it - 'The goblins who stole a sexton' for example, a creepy tale told by one character to others, set at Christmas, or 'Ode to an Expiring Frog' - a hilarious pastiche, I can imagine Dickens laughing aloud as he came up with that one! ( )
  Pantalaimon01 | Feb 9, 2016 |
It was a happy day when I, for whatever reason, elected to sample Charles Dickens. Having read A Tale of Two Cities in high school, I digressed to more popular fiction (Michener, Clavell, McMurtry, King, Grisham), as well as periods of science fiction and even non-fiction (Ambrose, McCollough for example), before making an effort to upgrade my reading list.

I read some Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Steinbeck and Hemingway with mixed success before reading Great Expectations. I liked it enough to read David Copperfield, and I was hooked. A Tale of Two Cities followed and then Oliver Twist (not my favorite), Bleak House, Nicholas Nickleby and Martin Chuzzlewit before taking on this lengthy novel.

The Pickwick Papers was Dickens’s first published novel and set him apart among his contemporaries. It features a club of London gentlemen, headed up by Mr. Pickwick, who travel the countryside and chronicle their adventures. Within many chapters are short vignettes or “tales” either told by the characters or presented from another written source, very reminiscent of The Canterbury Tales.

As in almost all Dickens’s work, the beauty of the novel lies in the original and classic characters created therein. Sam Weller and Mr. Jingles take their places alongside such other Dickens characters as Uriah Heap and Mr. Pecksniff as truly memorable Dickensian creations.

As in other Dickens works, a period of acclimation is required to become comfortable with the vocabulary and social conventions of the era, and while I can’t rank this work at the absolute top of the Dickens pantheon (David Copperfield and A Tale of Two Cities), I certainly enjoyed it more than Oliver Twist, Bleak House and Martin Chuzzlewit, putting it on a par with Nicholas Nickleby and Great Expectations. ( )
  santhony | Sep 21, 2015 |
I would actually give Pickwick Papers 3.5 stars. One can tell that Dickens wrote this at the beginning of his career. The characters and situational humor comes through at times, but there are chapters that struggle. As the chapters progress, the writing becomes stronger.
Sam Weller and Mr Pickwick are characters that one warms to with fondness and many a chuckle. If you would like to read a more modern version of this type of story telling with situational comedy founded on humorous characters, then I strongly recommend the adventures of the Moosepath League by Van Reid. It starts with Cordelia Underwood. ( )
  wvlibrarydude | Sep 6, 2015 |
"There are dark shadows on the earth, but its lights are stronger in the contrast. Some men, like bats or owls, have better eyes for the darkness than for the light. We, who have no such optical powers, are better pleased to take our last parting look at the visionary companions of many solitary hours, when the brief sunshine of the world is blazing full upon them."

I don't like everything by Dickens, and didn't quite believe I would like another work by him as much as A Tale of Two Cities! But this is humor at it's best, with the subtle mockery of socio-economic differences of the classes and the witty characterizations. It's positive and funny, even when portraying the negative. And I think I like Samuel Weller more than Jeeves! :D
Come to think of it Dickens wrote Pickwick Papers at the mere age of Twenty-four! Genius! ( )
  PsYcHe_Sufi | Jul 12, 2015 |
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» Add other authors (114 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Charles Dickensprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Backman, C. J.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bomans, GodfriedTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Browne, Hablot KnightIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Buss, Robert W.Illustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Casacuberta, MiquelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cock, J.C. deTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Darwin, BernardIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Frith, W.P.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
George CruickshankIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hellström, Lars GustavTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Johnson, EdgarEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mersand, JosephIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Patten, Robert L.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Russo, RichardIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Seymour, RobertIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tull, PatrickNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Veer, Bas van derIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wormald, MarkEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
This
The best edition of my books
is, of right, inscribed to my dear friend
John Forster,
Biographer of Oliver Goldsmith,
in affectionate acknowledgment
of his
counsel, sympathy, and faithful friendship
during
my whole literary life.
To Mr. Serjeant Talfourd, M.P. etc. etc.

My Dear Sir,
If I had not enjoyed the happiness of your private friendship, I should still have dedicated this work to you, as a slight and most inadequate acknowledgment of the inestimable services you are rendering to the literature of your country, and of the lasting benefits you will confer upon the authors of this and succeeding generations, by securing to them and their descendants a permanent interest in the copyright of their works.

... Accept the dedication of this book, my dear sir, as a mark of my warmest regard and esteem - as a memorial of the most gratifying friendship I have ever contracted, and of some of the pleasantest hours I have ever spent - as a token of my fervent admiration of every fine quality of your head and heart - as an assurance of the truth and sincerity with which I shall ever be,

My dear Sir,
Most faithfully and sincerely yours,
Charles Dickens.

48 Doughty Street,
September 27, 1837.
First words
The first ray of light which illumines the gloom, and converts into a dazzling brilliancy that obscurity in which the earlier history of the public career of the immortal Pickwick would appear to be involved, is derived from the perusal of the following entry in the Transactions of the Pickwick Club, which the editor of these papers feels the highest pleasure in laying before his readers, as a proof of the careful attention, indefatigable assiduity, and nice discrimination, with which his search among the multifarious documents confided to him has been conducted.
Quotations
There are very few moments in a man's existence when he experiences so much ludicrous distress, or meets with so little charitable commiseration, as when he is in pursuit of his own hat.
It is an established axiom that 'every bullet has its billet.' If it apply in an equal degree to shot, those of Mr. Winkle were unfortunate foundlings, deprived of their natural rights, cast loose upon the world, and billeted nowhere.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
This is the main work The Pickwick Papers. Please do NOT combine with part 1 or part 2.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140436111, Paperback)

‘Rising rage and extreme bewilderment had swelled the noble breast of Mr Pickwick, almost to the bursting of his waistcoat’

Few first novels have created as much popular excitement as The Pickwick Papers – a comic masterpiece that catapulted its twenty-four-year-old author to immediate fame. Readers were captivated by the adventures of the poet Snodgrass, the lover Tupman, the sportsman Winkle and, above all, by that quintessentially English Quixote, Mr Pickwick, and his cockney Sancho Panza, Sam Weller. From the hallowed turf of Dingley Dell Cricket Club to the unholy fracas of the Eatanswill election, via the Fleet debtor’s prison, characters and incidents sprang to life from Dickens’s pen, to form an enduringly popular work of ebullient humour and literary invention.

This edition is based on the first volume edition of 1837, and includes the original illustrations. In his introduction, Mark Wormald discusses the genesis of The Pickwick Papers and the emergence of its central characters.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:28 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

The Pickwick Papers was the comic masterpiece that carried 24 year-old Dickens to fame as it appeared in monthly instalments in 1836-7. It records the 'perambulations, perils, travels, adventures' of the Pickwick Club's members: the founding chairman, former business man and amateur scientist Mr Pickwick, his trusted companion Sam Weller, the sportsman Winkle, the poet Snodgrass and the lover Tracy Tupman. Beginning in haste to meet magazine deadlines and continuing in exuberant confidence, Dickens drew on his own experiences, on theatre, trials, romances and popular novels. Characters and incidents blossomed in his hands and Pickwick's rotund charm is now the stuff of mythology. If this endearing 'angel in tights and gaiters' still speaks to us from his early nineteenth-century world, it is due, at least in part, to Dickens's brilliant skill in handling the enduring currency of everyday speech. This Penguin Classic, edited by Mark Wormald, makes available the first volume edition of 1837 together with the original illustrations.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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

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2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140436111, 0141199105

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