Mr. Charles Dickens The Pickwick Papers (1836 - 1837)

GOLLUM

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Second off the rank then for March is The Pickwick Papers and the first 'novel' by Mr. Dickens published originally in serial format as 19 issues over a 20 month period of March 1836 - October 1837.

This is one of his I have read before but it was some while back, so I will definitely be reading it again for this month.

I have been tied up with work lately but I will still post some of my impressions of Sketches by Boz in the coming week before properly turning my attention to Pickwick Papers.

In the meantime, anyone wishing to post their thoughts on this work now, please do so!

Following is an online version courtesy of Project Gutenberg if you don't happen to own your own copy.

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/580/580-h/580-h.htm

Synopsis:

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.


Cheers.
 

Extollager

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If that edition has editorial notes, good. Otherwise I wouldn't recommend it. If one is going to tackle this sprawling book, one will probably need notes such as those in Mark Wormald's edition for Penguin Classics. There are innumerable references and allusions that -- 180 years later -- need explanation. I hope my saying this doesn't put anyone off.

I'd be interested in hearing from people who have read Pickwick and who also have read Chesterton's pages on it in Appreciations and Criticisms of the Works of Charles Dickens. GKC sees the book as really taking off with the introduction (Chapter 12) of Sam Weller as Pickwick's servant. He sees Weller as a great symbol of the English people, specifically the economically poor (not indigent) English people, with their humorous irony, etc. Is there, btw, such as thing as "the English people" in today's multicultural milieu?

But here's a passage I liked from Chesterton's discussion of the book:

“The Pickwick Papers constitute first and foremost a kind of wild promise, a pre-natal vision of all the children of Dickens. He had not yet settled down into the plain, professional habit of picking out a plot and characters, of attending to one thing at a time, of writing a separate, sensible novel and sending it off to his publishers. He is still in the youthful whirl of the kind of world that he would like to create. He has not yet really settled what story he will write, but only what sort of story he will write. He tries to tell ten stories at once; he pours into the pot all the chaotic fancies and crude experiences of his boyhood; he sticks in irrelevant short stories shamelessly, as into a scrap-book; he adopts designs and abandons them, begins episodes and leaves them unfinished; but from the first page to the last there is a nameless and elemental ecstasy—that of the man who is doing the kind of thing that he can do. Dickens, like every other honest and effective writer, came at last to some degree of care and self-restraint. He learned how to make his dramatis personæ assist his drama; he learned how to write stories which were full of rambling and perversity, but which were stories. But before he wrote a single real story, he had a kind of vision. It was a vision of the Dickens world—a maze of white roads, a map full of fantastic towns, thundering coaches, clamorous market-places, uproarious inns, strange and swaggering figures. That vision was Pickwick.”
 

GOLLUM

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Slightly off-topic but I really like Chesterton's Essays. He is one of my favourite 'English' essayists along with Carlyle, De Quincey, Arnold, Hazlitt, Johnson, Lamb, Bacon etc.
I am planning to purchase In Defense of Sanity: The Best Essays of G.K. Chesterton. Although it only scratches the surface of the 1,000's of essays Chesterton penned it looks like a good collection and includes the essay quoted by Extollager...which I've not yet read.
Table Of Contents:
1. Introduction to The Defendant (The Defendant, 1901)
2. A Defence of Skeletons (The Defendant, 1901)
3. On Certain Modern Writers and the Institution of the Family (Heretics, 1905)
4. On Running After One’s Hat (All Things Considered, 1908)
5. Woman (All Things Considered, 1908)
6. A Piece of Chalk (Tremendous Trifles, 1909)
7. What I Found in My Pocket (Tremendous Trifles, 1909)
8. On Lying in Bed (Tremendous Trifles, 1909)
9. The Diabolist (Tremendous Trifles, 1909)
10. The Twelve Men (Tremendous Trifles, 1909)
11. The Shop of Ghosts (Tremendous Trifles, 1909)
12. The Romantic in the Rain (A Miscellany of Men, 1912)
13. The Mad Official (A Miscellany of Men, 1912)
14. The Mystagogue (A Miscellany of Men, 1912)
15. The Architect of Spears (A Miscellany of Men, 1912)
16. Don’t (Daily News, May 7, 1910)
17. The Mystery of the Mystics (Daily News, August 30, 1901)
18. A Much Repeated Repetition (Daily News, March 26, 1904)
19. The Maxims of Maxim (Daily News, February 25, 1905)
20. The Book of Job (GKC as MC, 1929)
21. Cheese (Alarms and Discursions, 1910)
22. On Gargoyles (Alarms and Discursions, 1910)
23. The Fading Fireworks (Alarms and Discursions, 1910)
24. The Furrows (Alarms and Discursions, 1910)
25. The Meaning of Dreams (Lunacy and Letters, 1958)
26. On Being Moved (Lunacy and Letters, 1958)
27. The Pickwick Papers (Appreciations and Criticisms of the Works of Charles Dickens, 1911)
28. The Bluff of the Big Shops (The Outline of Sanity, 1926)
29. On Architecture (Generally Speaking, 1928)
30. On Shakespeare (Generally Speaking, 1928)
31. The Slavery of Free Verse (Fancies vs. Fads, 1923)
32. Turning Inside Out (Fancies vs. Fads, 1923)
33. On Turnpikes and Mediævalism (All I Survey, 1933)
34. The Drift from Domesticity (The Thing, 1929)
35. On Vulgarity (Come to Think of It, 1930)
36. On a Humiliating Heresy (Come to Think of It, 1930)
37. On Original Sin (Come to Think of It, 1930)
38. On Jane Austen in the General Election (Come to Think of It, 1930)
39. On Essays (Come to Think of It, 1930)
40. On Evil Euphemisms (Come to Think of It, 1932)
41. A Plea for Prohibition (Sidelights, 1932)
42. The American Ideal (Sidelights, 1932)
43. Marriage and the Modern Mind (Sidelights, 1932)
44. Magic and Fantasy in Fiction (Sidelights, 1932)
45. On the New Prudery (Avowals and Denials, 1934)
46. On the Return of the Barbarian (Avowals and Denials, 1934)
47. On Man: Heir of All the Ages (Avowals and Denials, 1934)
48. On the Instability of the State (Avowals and Denials, 1934)
49. The Romance of Childhood. (All is Grist, 1931)
50. The Surrender upon Sex (The Well and the Shallows, 1935)
51. Reflections on a Rotten Apple (The Well and the Shallows, 1935)
52. Babies and Distributism (The Well and the Shallows, 1935)
53. The Rout of Reason (Where Are the Dead? 1928)
54. Mary Queen of Scots (Revaluations, 1931)
55. George MacDonald (GKC as MC, 1929)
56. Tolerating Other Religions (Illustrated London News, May 31, 1913)
57. The Efficiency of the Police (Illustrated London News, April 1, 1922)
58. About Beliefs (As IWas Saying, 1936)
59. The Common Man (The Common Man, 1950)
60. Two Stubborn Pieces of Iron (The Common Man, 1950)
61. The Revival of Philosophy—Why? (The Common Man, 1950)
62. If I Had Only One Sermon to Preach (The Common Man, 1950)
63. Scipio and the Children (The Spice of Life, 1964)
64. The Philosophy of Islands (The Spice of Life, 1964)
65. The Artistic Side (The Coloured Lands, 1938)
66. What Is Right with the World (The Apostle and the Wild Ducks, 1975)
67. The Spice of Life (The Spice of Life, 1964)
 

Extollager

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I've begun listening to an abridged version of Pickwick read for Naxos by Anton Lesser -- Bright of the Endeavour TV series. Bright has done a number of audio recordings. Wife & I listened to his reading of Hard Times -- unabridged & well done.
 

Bick

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I've begun listening to an abridged version of Pickwick read for Naxos by Anton Lesser -- Bright of the Endeavour TV series. Bright has done a number of audio recordings. Wife & I listened to his reading of Hard Times -- unabridged & well done.
Which parts are missing, Extollager? I do recall diversions, but I don't recall them being unappealing, so not sure what parts I'd pick to cut out.
 

paranoid marvin

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There was a marvellous BBC adaptation, when they were on the top of their game with costumed draka back in the 1970s-early 80s. Patrick Chisholm (for me at least) steals the show with a fantastic performance as Mister Jingle; I just love his manner of speaking.

Tigg Montague, Fagin, Sykes, Seth Pecksniff, Mistrr Bumble, Alfred Jingle. Dickens had a penchant for creating singular villains and rogues in his novels. Often the "baddies' are far more interesting and enjoyable to read than some of his more insufferable 'goodies'.
 

Bick

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Tigg Montague, Fagin, Sykes, Seth Pecksniff, Mistrr Bumble, Alfred Jingle. Dickens had a penchant for creating singular villains and rogues in his novels. Often the "baddies' are far more interesting and enjoyable to read than some of his more insufferable 'goodies'.
Yes, I've always thought this, but only really regarding the key protagonist. The lead in any Dickens book is invariably a 'goody', but it is around this character that Dickens spins his tale - they are the normality at the center, the vanilla character. The eccentricities and colour are provided by the secondary characters. His villains are of course highly charged, memorable and wonderfully drawn (Sykes, Quilp, Uriah Heep, etc), but the list of colourful and eccentric goodies is also pretty long: Mr Micawber, Mr Dick, Sam Weller, Jenny Wren, etc. Even Joe Gargery is given scenes of eccentricity to build character - I always loved how he provided Pip with about a pint of gravy at dinner to compensate for Pip's sister's antagonism.
 
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paranoid marvin

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Yes, I've always thought this, but only really regarding the key protagonist. The lead in any Dickens book is invariably a 'goody', but it is around this character that Dickens spins his tale - they are the normality at the center, the vanilla character. The eccentricities and colour are provided by the secondary characters. His villains are of course highly charged, memorable and wonderfully drawn (Sykes, Quilp, Uriah Heep, etc), but the list of colourful and eccentric goodies is also pretty long: Mr Micawber, Mr Dick, Sam Weller, Jenny Wren, etc. Even Joe Gargery is given scenes of eccentricity to build character - I always loved how he provided Pip with about a pint of gravy at dinner to compensate for Pip's sister's antagonism.


I think the worst 'goodies' as the two Martin Chuzzlewits. The elder is a manipulator and the younger is one of the most infuriating characters; he could be the hero. Even Tom Pinch, who we are meant to feel sympathy for, is annoying in the way he allows himself to be manipulated and condescended to by all of the Chuzzlewits.

I think that Martin Chuzzlewit is my favourite Dickens story, as there are no true heroes, and two wonderful rogues in Pecksniff and Montague Tigg (you can see where Pete Postlethwaite got his inspiration for his portrayl of Hawkeswill from) who you avtually end up feeling a little sorry for. Whilst Jonas is a cross between Scrooge and Fagin and is one ofvthe worst of villainous characters in Dickens stories. It has it all, and some brilliant humour.
 
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