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Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens
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Nicholas Nickleby (1836)

by Charles Dickens

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
5,304751,238 (3.93)1 / 396
  1. 50
    David Copperfield by Charles Dickens (aces)
  2. 20
    The Pickwick Papers 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)
  3. 20
    The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman by Laurence Sterne (roby72)
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Showing 1-5 of 71 (next | show all)
Dickens 4th book, and 3rd novel, published in 1838-39 and cementing his speedy celebrity, Nickleby combines the angry social statements of Oliver Twist with something of the sense of sharp satire of The Pickwick Papers. True, neither Nicholas nor Kate exhibit much in the way of interesting features, but as Tintin-esque Everypeople, they are surrounded by a gallery of delightful characters. The Victorian pathos is there in spades, and some of it is really quite silly, but one can feel Dickens gaining such a sense of self-assuredness as he works through this novel, and the picaresque nature of Nickleby's travels will not be equalled by any of the other novels that feature extensive journeys. The acting troupe, the brutal world of Mantilini's dress shop, and the figure of Ralph Nickleby, who extends on Fagin's sparks of life to suggest that the author might one day be interested in creating characters with more than one-and-a-half dimensions.

Excepting parts of Little Dorrit and David Copperfield, this is the Dickens novel that has the purest sense of fun, and combined with some of the powerful statements about the workhouse and the place of women, it's a very worthy read. To be honest, I think this is the height of the Dickens canon for several years, until Copperfield comes along. ( )
  therebelprince | Oct 30, 2018 |
A very mixed book, this is an early Dickens, coming after the great Pickwick Papers and the melodramatic but wholly absorbing Oliver Twist.
The positive aspects of the novel are led by the marvelous comic characters: Mrs Nickelby, who would drive the most patient of listeners to commit mayhem; Mr Lilyvick of the modest fortune and ever-changing will; Mr Crummles and his unusual family, which includes the Infant Prodigy, and several others. Another two believable, if less comic, characters are Newman Noggs and Miss LaCreevy. The settings are beautifully developed, and there’s a considerable amount of humor in the book. And the horrors of Dotheboys Hall are Dickens at his best—so good, in fact, that several headmasters considered suing Dickens for his portrayal, citing it as libelous.
But my heavens! The plot is, even for Dickens, too full of coincidence and deus ex machina for the modern reader to take seriously. Parts of the ending are eminently satisfying, but other parts are too pat. And the book is so very, very long.
Taken as a whole, this is an above-average novel, but it’s certainly not one of Dickens’s best. ( )
  bohemima | Oct 28, 2018 |
This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Nicholas Nickleby
Series: ----------
Author: Charles Dickens
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Classic
Pages: 1029
Format: Digital Edition

Synopsis:


Nicholas Nickleby dies of a broken heart after speculating all his families money and losing it. He dies and leaves behind a wife and his young son Nicholas and a younger daugher Kate. He leaves them to the tender mercies of his brother Ralph, a rich money lender.

Ralph sends Nicholas to a school master as an aide with the promise that Ralph will take care of Mrs Nickleby and Kate as long as Nicholas stays the course. Said schoolmaster, one Wackford Squeers, is in cahoots with Ralph on various usurous objectives that Ralph has in mind. Squeers uses and abuses his charges and also gets free labor from a simple minded orphan named Smikes. When Squeers begin to beat Smikes almost to death, Nicholas intervenes even though he knows it means his Uncle Ralph will kick his Mother and sister out onto the streets.

Nicholas and Smikes join an actors troupe to earn a living. Nicholas receives a letter from an employee of his Uncle begging him to come back to London.

During this time, Ralph had used his niece Kate as bate to entice a young lord to get money from him. Kate begs her Uncle to spare her the shame of such a thing but Ralph will not relent. Money is his god.

Nicholas returns to London, defies his Uncle, starts a new job with the Cheeryble brothers. He comes across a beautiful young woman and has to contend with his Uncle and Wackford Squeers trying to kidnap Smikes. Many schemes of Ralph all come together around Nicholas and with the help of various friends, Nicholas overcomes all and sees Ralph ruined.

Nicholas marries the beautiful young lady, Kate marries Frank Cheeryble, the nephew of the Cheeryble brothers and everything works out well for the good guys and the bad guys all get their just desserts.

My Thoughts:

First, let's deal with something here. Wackford Squeers. I have been saying that name in dulcet tones for the last 2 weeks. I mean, how PERFECT is that name for a villain? Wackford Squeers, Wackford Squeers, Wackford Squeers. This could probably have been a 5star book just on the strength of that name alone. Thankfully, the rest of the book carries its weight as well.

The characters, all of them, are fantastic. From youthful, hotheaded and sometimes silly Nicholas to grasping, hate filled Uncle Ralph to poor, pathetic, heart breaking and sympathy inducing Smikes to cruel, petty and cowardly Wackford Squeers. Dickens doesn't just write ABOUT these characters, he brings them to life, in all their glorious ups and downs. I know that Dickens is shamelessly manipulating me with how he describes poor Smikes but I don't care because he does it so well. My heart broke for the poor wretch even while I KNEW that Dickens was doing this cold heartedly to bring about just such a reaction from me. And Wackford Squeers, my goodness, such a vile pot of avarice, cowardice and bulliness that I loved to hate him. Plus, singing his name to the tune of ♪Davey,♪ Davey Crockett,♪King of the Wild Frontier♪ fit perfectly and almost had me dancing with glee.

The trials and tribulations of Nicholas, Kate, various other side characters, all tie into a wondrous tapestry that simply enchanted me. Now, this being Dickens, and originally serialized, and Dickens being paid by the word, there were times that I was tempted to skim or let my mind wonder during some of the more descriptive pages or while Mrs Nickleby would wax eloquent about something that nobody cared about, but I overcame and read every word and I must say, I am richer for it. While Dickens isn't by any means a sparse writer, neither is he a wasteful writer. His descriptions bring the people walking the street alive. His words make the characters as real as real can be. When I was tempted to simply skip anything involving Mrs Nickleby and her pointless reminisces and get annoyed by her, it was what Dickens was aiming for. He wanted a character just like that and he created her from thin air.

While I gave this 5stars back in '07 and 5 stars again, I don't know if I'd recommend anyone starting their exploration of Dickens with this or not. First off, it is over 1000pages for the entire novel. Even the broken up edition I read back in '07 was almost 600 pages for each volume. However, thanks to the likes of Sanderson, Martin and Co, the Mega-Novel (trademark pending) is becoming main stream and the mere size of Dickens might not be quite the impediment it would have been even 20 years ago. The other thing would be this showcases the Victorian ideals to a T(ea) (haha!!!!) and that might be off putting those of modern culture. Nicholas not pursuing Madeline Bray because it wouldn't be proper as he wasn't of the same class anymore (she was monied while the Nickleby's weren't anymore) and Nicholas persuading his sister Kate to not accept Frank Cheeryble's proposal (at first) because it wouldn't look right since Nicholas worked for the Cheeryble Uncles. It is very much outside the egalitarian ideas we carry around today that I can see it turning people away. Now, that being said, anyone who IS turned off from Dickens because of something like that doesn't deserve to read the Master anyway. So no great loss.

After arguing with myself in the above paragraph, I have realized this book not only gets my unadulterated acclamation, but my highest recommendation AND the first of the year Best Book of the Year tag. I wish I could praise this book more, I really do but this will have to do.

Sincerely,
Bookstooge

★★★★★ ( )
1 vote BookstoogeLT | Jul 30, 2018 |
Nicholas Nickleby does appear quite a lot in the story but he isn't quite the character that makes things happen, like David Copperfield and Little Dorrit. When he tries to change things, he is always rash. His sister Kate is a more admirable character than him, standing up to their uncle (not to say that Nicholas doesn't) and always trying to maintain her dignity. Nicholas owes a lot to the Cheerybles and even Newman Noggs. Nevertheless, it is still a classic good Dickens book, abounding with delicious scenes, interesting characters and its share of coincidences. It also has more than its fair share of garrulous women. ( )
  siok | Mar 30, 2018 |
I read this for my classic lit book club. I had been wanting to read Dickens for a while, so I was glad when somebody picked this. I had only ever read Great Expectations in high school. I didn't like it then, but I was hoping age and maturity would make a difference in reading Dickens now. Nope. Not with Nicholas Nickleby anyway. I really suffered through it. Dickens is just way too wordy for my liking. I don't care for authors who take a whole page to make a point that could have been done in a few sentences. My other big complaint about this book, and apparently this is common in all Dickens books, is the ridiculous number of characters. I felt like three new characters were introduced in each chapter! But for real, there were about 60 characters in this book. That is crazy. Who can keep track of that many characters?

I think I am starting to realize that I really don't care for novels that were originally written as a serial. They just don't "flow" like normal novels. You can tell they are really more like mini stories all put together. I especially disliked the flow of Nicholas Nickleby. The story was very linear, going from one storyline onto the next and they didn't really relate to each other that much.

I really struggled thr0ugh this one and am not looking forward to reading more Dickens. He's just not for me. ( )
  Aseleener | Mar 24, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 71 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (183 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Charles Dickensprimary authorall editionscalculated
Browne, Hablot KnightIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ford, MarkContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jennings, AlexNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Knox, Christina F.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Maclise, DanielCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nicholson, MilNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Parker, DavidEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schlicke, PaulEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Slater, MichaelIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thorndike, Dame SybilIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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There once lived, in a sequestered part of the county of Devonshire, one Mr Godfrey Nickleby: a worthy gentleman, who, taking it into his head rather late in life that he must get married, and not being young enough or rich enough to aspire to the hand of a lady of fortune, had wedded an old flame out of mere attachment, who in her turn had taken him for the same reason.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140435123, Paperback)

When Nicholas Nickleby is left penniless after his father’s death, he appeals to his wealthy uncle to help him find work and to protect his mother and sister. But Ralph Nickleby proves both hard-hearted and unscrupulous, and Nicholas finds himself forced to make his own way in the world.

Nicholas’s adventures gave Dickens the opportunity to portray a extraordinary gallery of rogues and eccentrics: Wackford Squeers, tyrannical headmaster of Dotheboys Hall, a school for unwanted boys; the slow-witted orphan Smike, rescued by Nicholas; and the gloriously theatrical Mr and Mrs Crummle, and their daughter, the ‘infant phenomenon’. Like many of Dickens’s novels, Nicholas Nickleby is characterized by his outrage at cruelty and social injustice, but it is also a flamboyantly exuberant work, revealing Dickens’s comic genius at its most unerring.

Mark Ford’s introduction compares Nicholas Nickleby to eighteenth-century picaresque novels, and examines Dickens’s criticism of the ‘Yorkshire Schools’, his social satire and use of language. This edition also includes the original illustrations by ‘Phiz’, a chronology and a list for further reading.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:07 -0400)

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140435123, 0141199814

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