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Dombey and Son by Charles Dickens
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Dombey and Son (1848)

by Charles Dickens

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Showing 1-5 of 34 (next | show all)
With the completion of this novel, I have now read every Dickens novel at least once in my lifetime. I have to say this is not one I am likely to read ever again, certainly not in a hurry. I found it difficult to be get absorbed in, in part as there is no strong central character with whom I as a reader can empathise: Paul Dombey senior is a cold and callous father, obsessed with the future of his business and dynasty, and cruelly neglectful of his daughter Florence, especially after the death of his sickly son Paul junior aged six. These offspring are archetypal Dickens child characters: the death of Paul is like a male version of the death of Little Nell in Old Curiosity Shop, while Florence, the leading female character, is a bland and beautiful cipher, arousing sympathy only due to the plight of her near orphan status, abandoned by her father and her mother having died at Paul junior's birth. Edith Skewton, Dombey's second wife is slightly more interesting and tragic in a different way, having been effectively "bought" by her husband as a trophy wife. As often, some of the lesser characters are more interesting and colourful, such as Mr Toots, Susan Nipper, Old Mrs Brown, and Captain Cuttle. Dickens's usual portrayals of abject poverty are rarer in this novel, mostly through the tragic figure of Alice, Good Mrs Brown's betrayed daughter. There is a much redemption and a lot of marriages in the last few chapters. As a curiosity, this novel also gives an interesting description of the coming of the railways in the 1830s, depicting them as a noisy and chaotically violent disruption of the landscape. ( )
  john257hopper | Nov 24, 2018 |
A very high three stars. This book has some very funny passages, and a lot of emotion. It's not one of the greatest Dickens works, and it definitely loses some of the drive after the major tragedy one-third of the way into the book, however it is still very interesting, full of fascinating themes and characters. The 14th of Dickens' major works, and the seventh of his novels, Dombey and Son sits very comfortably in the second act of Dickens' life, in which his social and communal responsibilities slightly lowered his novel-writing output, and his desire for integrated works of character growth and investigation - begun with Martin Chuzzlewit - is in full swing.

Perhaps it's because the first third, with the aching characters of Paul and Flora, and young Paul, is so strong and unified, that the gradual splintering of the plot leads one to feel a little bit underwhelmed as things move toward a climax. The climax itself, being in many ways an emotional rather than narrative one, is also unlike anything Dickens had previously entertained. It's really rather powerful at times. As I said, this is a high three-stars, but it definitely just creeps into my Dickens Top Ten. ( )
  therebelprince | Oct 30, 2018 |
One of Dickens' weakest novels, with a poor supporting cast and few highlights. The life and death of Paul is unbearably poignant and has some of Dickens' most affecting prose, but the remaining 600 pages after it never approach those heights. Some scenes are masterful, particularly Carker's flight and all the scenes with Edith. Things pick up a bit as the final chapters draw the various plots to a close, but it's certainly not his best. ( )
  mcduck68 | Apr 23, 2018 |
Reading Dickens in publication order, this novel stands out. For the first time Dickens outlined his plot in advance and coordinated every element toward its fulfilment. The subplots are thoroughly tied in and there's foreshadowing nearly from the beginning. The feel is less chaotic, but the core elements of a Dickens novel are still present: rapidly drawn characters that instantly appear fully formed, the coy humour, the social commentary and shots at the upper class. He also winds up the story in his typical way, which is perhaps the one aspect I'm finding growing old after reading seven of these. The newfound structure is almost too rigid, its moral so clear from the get-go that it leaves only the procedure of its delivery. In the case of most classics I recommend knowing key plot points in advance to witness how they artfully unfold, but in this instance so much is telegraphed that it's worth maintaining the little suspense remaining.

There's more urban scenes this time than rural, wealthy homes and businesses predominating. Dickens supplies another host of memorable characters, the stalwart Susan Nipper and do-gooder Captain Cuttle being particular favourites of mine. I was impressed at first with the villain, but I was certain there were more evil machinations in play than that. For a novel so obviously centered on Dombey Sr., I found it surprising how rarely we got into his head. We don't know what justification lies behind his pride, what his relationship with his own father was like or how good he actually is at his job. He shares almost nothing of himself and remains mostly an enigma, arguably the flattest character in Dickens' repertoire (so far). Contrast him with Edith, who shares his degree of pride but has some intriguing layers and was arresting in all of her scenes.

All my complaining aside, this was a step up from his last two or three novels. I'm looking forward to where Dickens' new devotion to structure will take him, knowing that most of his best-known titles still lie ahead. ( )
2 vote Cecrow | Jan 2, 2018 |
Nel mare di pagine piatte, nelle prime 400 pagine o giù di lì perfino noiose, svetta qualche scoglio aguzzo di classe dickensiana, soprattutto nella caratterizzazione e nella esposizione delle vicissitudini dei personaggi 'cattivi'.
Manca del tutto il brio nelle pagine in cui compaiono i 'buoni'.
Ha scritto di meglio. ( )
  downisthenewup | Aug 17, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 34 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (54 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Charles Dickensprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bourne, John CookeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Browne, Hablot KnightIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fairclough, PeterEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Garrod, H. W.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pitz, Henry C.Illustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pryce-Jones, AlanAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Timson, DavidNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Williams, RaymondIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Dombey sat in the corner of the darkened room in the great arm-chair by the bedside, and Son lay tucked up warm in a little basket bedstead, carefully disposed on a low settee immediately in front of the fire and close to it, as if his constitution were analogous to that of a muffin, and it was essential to toast him brown while he was very new.
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She brings daily in her little basket ... in sheets of curl-paper, morsels of cold meats, tongues of sheep, halves of fowls, for her own dinner.
They were black, cold rooms; and seemed to be in mourning, like the inmates of the house. The books precisely matched as to size, and drawn up in line, like soldiers, looked in their cold, hard, slippery uniforms, as if they had but one idea among them, and that was a freezer. The bookcase, glazed and locked, repudiated all familiarities.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140430482, Mass Market Paperback)

To Paul Dombey, business is everything and money can do anything. He runs his family life as he runs his firm: coldly, calculatingly and commercially. The only person he cares for is his little son, while his motherless daughter Florence craves affection from her unloving father, who sees her only as a base coin that couldn't be invested'. As Dombey's callousness extends to others - from his defiant second wife Edith to Florence's admirer Walter Gay - he sows the seeds for his own destruction. Can this heartless businessman be redeemed? A compelling depiction of a man imprisoned by his own pride, "Dombey and Son" (1848) explores the devastating effects of emotional deprivation on a dysfunctional family and on society as a whole.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:46 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

Presents Charles Dickens' classic novel about businessman Paul Dombey who neglects his daughter in favor of his son and eventually comes to need her help and includes explanatory notes, chronology, selected bibliography, and the novel's original illustrations.… (more)

» see all 22 descriptions

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140435468, 0141199911

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