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David Copperfield (1850)

by Charles Dickens

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
18,492231201 (4.09)5 / 1221
Charles Dickens' 1850 classic epic, David Copperfield, unfolds the story of David, an optimistic and hard-working lad who's orphaned in his youth. Raised initially by his brutal stepfather, who halts David's schooling and sends him to work in a factory, David eventually finds a home with his eccentric, but kind aunt, Betsey. Later in life, David trains for a career in law, but eventually becomes a writer.… (more)
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English (213)  Spanish (6)  Italian (3)  Dutch (2)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Portuguese (1)  German (1)  Hungarian (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (229)
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15. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
published: 1849/50, with revisions in 1868
format: 822-page Bantam classic, 1981 edition
acquired: 2020, from my neighbor
read: Jan 2 – Apr 13
time reading: 41:24, 3.0 mpp
rating: 4
locations: Suffolk, Great Yarmouth, London, Canterbury, Switzerland…
about the author: 1812-1870. Born in Portsmouth, Hampshire, but grew up in several places, including London and especially in Kent.

I enjoyed this. But I'm not sure I have much else to say. It's my second Dickens, and he again knows exactly what he's doing always. And it's a lot of fun, with a lot of iconic characters, and a whole lot going on, and a great impression of various aspects of early 19-century England, including a coastal town (Yarmouth), a look at Canterbury and a lot of London, high and low. And ultimately the story doesn't add up to whole lot. David does grow up, come of age, find things out about himself, but in all these stories he's mostly a harmless observer, even within his own love life. Even when he looks at himself, it's in retrospect, which has its own charm. I like that Dickens can pull out a moment of wonder when he wants, reminding us he was human and relatable. He also pulls heartstrings, and while I don't feel that has aged well, it was harmless enough here. And I forgive all his necessary coincidences.

It occurs to me that in a lot of ways this is baseline of well written novel. I'm overstating. But it would serve; it would make a nice baseline of what a novel is, should it be thrust into the part.

Anyway, recommended to anyone with a spare 41 hours of reading time (or a much faster reading speed).

2022
https://www.librarything.com/topic/341027#7819403 ( )
  dchaikin | Apr 22, 2022 |
This is not the first time I had read David Copperfield, it probably won't be the last either. There is always something new to see and discover - as verbose as Dickens tends to be, he also knows how to use these words and he builds such memorable characters that revisiting them is always bound to make you notice something more about them. As in most of his novels, it is the secondary characters that shine - David and his love life can be dull at times but there is always someone else in the frame - his aunt and Mr. Dick, the Peggotty family and Ms. Mowcher; the Micawbers and Agnes; Emily and Martha. Even the villains are full blooded - cruel, awful and despicable but oh so human. There is only one exception in the whole book and it is Dora - and even that makes sense to some extent - it almost feels like a protection mechanism from an older David who is trying to reconcile the love of his youth with all he had learned about himself - so she needs to become a perfect ghost, a presence which does not contradict his own heart.

One thing I never appreciated was how skillful Dickens is with the timing of the actions in the novel - modern editions rarely mark the serialization breaks. The edition I read had the original layout of the serialization (including the advertisements) and having to stop at the end of each installment (to either look at the ads or leaf through them to get to the next part) made me see the novel in a somewhat new light. It was always a novel of redemption for anyone even remotely good - even the incorrigible rascal Mr. Micawber manages to find his niche. It was always a novel of contrasts - Dora to Agnes, Mr. Murdstone to Mr. Peggotty, Uriah to Mrs. Micawber (in some things anyway - they both kept repeating what they are but only one of them meant it), Betsey Trotwood to Mrs. Steerforth - the more you look, the more pairs you will find. But reading the novel in its original installments added another layer to it - with contrasts (good/bad) between different installments and sometimes in the actions inside of the same one; with the choice of which characters to revisit in the same installment - some of those chapters which may sound almost as fill-in and removable in the novel, suddenly appear a lot more logical - they are fill-ins but they are necessary so that the installments work the way they were designed.

It was also interesting to see all the advertisements from those days - from books to alpaca umbrellas (what's with that?), from snake oil medicines to clothes (one of these even had a poem written in almost every installment). The world had changed a lot since then but some of the ads could be written for something today and still work... most of them around the "fast cure" and "solve your problems" variety and I am not entirely sure what that says about humanity. ( )
1 vote AnnieMod | Mar 25, 2022 |
God, I loathe Dickens. You know he was paid by the word? This de-legitimizes him in my mind in spite of all his other masterful skills. I'm not going to read a hundred extra pages that didn't have to be there. ( )
  invisiblecityzen | Mar 13, 2022 |
Probably Dickens's best-known full-scale novel, and certainly his most personal from the numerous ways it draws on his own early life. We all love it because of the striking, scary childhood scenes: I'm sure I'm not the only one who has had nightmares about Mr Creakle's appalling school, the rat-infested blacking factory, or David's walk from London to Dover. And because — as always with Dickens — it's packed with memorable minor characters, most of them entirely gratuitous. There's absolutely no necessity in the plot for Miss Mowcher to be a dwarf hairdresser, but it wouldn't have been the same book without that. Best of all, of course, are the endlessly lovable Micawbers, the slimy villain Uriah Heep, and the feisty Miss Betsey Trotwood. But they are only the tip of a very large iceberg.

As usual, Dickens manages to get in some house-trained but still quite fierce social criticism, most of all in defence of his idea that childhood should be about fun and discovery, not being "firm" and "earnest" and prematurely taking on adult responsibilities. He also takes time off along the way to bash familiar targets like unregulated private schools, imprisonment for debt, and the continued existence of obsolete parasitic branches of the legal system (Doctors' Commons).

It's harder to get involved with what should be the main channel of the novel, the marriage plot. We know that there's only one way David's story can end, and it's hard not to find his wrong turnings along the way contrived and artificial, and to feel sorry for poor Dora who is so obviously only there in the story on condition that she can be eliminated when no longer convenient. I find myself dreaming up silly alternative endings in which Dora goes off to join Miss Mills in India where she learns to play the sitar in an ashram (David would meet her, many years later, lecturing on Eastern religions). Or Agnes gently refuses to marry David until she's finished her legal studies and taken control of her father's old firm. And it goes without saying that Em'ly really ought to return in triumph to Yarmouth with her Neapolitan husband and horde of bambini, to set up East Anglia's first pizzeria ("La piccola Emilia")... ( )
1 vote thorold | Feb 16, 2022 |
A long story about David Copperfield and all the people in his life. ( )
  caanderson | Jan 2, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 213 (next | show all)
David Copperfield relates the story of his life - transmuting many of the early experience of his creator - right from his birth to his attainment of settled maturity and successful authorship. On his journey, David encounters a gallery of memorable characters, kind, cruel or grotesque: Mr Micawber, Uriah Heep and Steerforth are among the many who shape his development.

By turns absorbingly comic, dramatic, ironic and tender, the novel brings into energetic life the society and preoccupations of the mid-Victorian world
added by letonia | editPenguin Popular Classics
 

» Add other authors (226 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Dickens, Charlesprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Armitage, RichardNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Austen, JohnIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Blount, TrevorForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Boulton, NicholasNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Buck Jr., Philo MelvynEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Degen, PaulIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ford, George H.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gunnarsson, JakobTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hill, JamesCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hughes, KathyrnIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jarvis, MartinNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Johnson, EdgarAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Malden, R. H.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
PhizIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Priestley, J. B.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Smith, EdithEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tambling, JeremyIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thanner, JosefÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vance, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Winterich, John T.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Affectionately inscribed to the Hon. Mr and Mrs Richard Watson, of Rockingham, Northamptonshire
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Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show.
Quotations
I shall never desert Mr. Micawber.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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This is the main work for David Copperfield. It should not be combined with any adaptation, abridgement, student edition, etc. If this is your book but you have an abridged or adapted version, please update your title and ISBN, so that your book can be combined with the correct abridgement or adaptation.
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Charles Dickens' 1850 classic epic, David Copperfield, unfolds the story of David, an optimistic and hard-working lad who's orphaned in his youth. Raised initially by his brutal stepfather, who halts David's schooling and sends him to work in a factory, David eventually finds a home with his eccentric, but kind aunt, Betsey. Later in life, David trains for a career in law, but eventually becomes a writer.

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Penguin Australia

4 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140439447, 0141031751, 0141199164, 0141343826

Tantor Media

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