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The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens

The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens

The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens Publisher's Description

An ePublication by dmdSOFTWARE.NET

The Old Curiosity Shop certainly displays the hallmarks of the unstructured, free-flowing make-it-up-as-you-go-along type of story characteristic of Dickens's early novels. Indeed, it is rather generous to call it a story, and it's difficult now to understand the sensation it caused when it was first published. However, if a page-turning plot was all there was to it, very few of Dickens's novels would be readable at all. As ever with Dickens, the pleasure in reading this book comes from the comedy, diversity and richness of the characters, as well as the sheer mastery of the English language which came so naturally to him.

  • Classic Novel
  • 2567 pages / 73 chapters (the trial contains 18 chapters / 626 pages)
  • 460kb in size (trial: 131kb)
  • published/edited by dmdSOFTWARE.NET
  • year of publication 2002
  • by Charles Dickens
  • written in 1850

    The central characters are old Trent, his granddaughter Nell, the moneylender Daniel Quilp, young Kit and the wonderful Richard Swiveller. Of these, the spotlessly pure Nell and the irredeemably evil Quilp are the moral opposites around which the book revolves, old Trent is rather a pathetic figure, while Kit's sturdy progress from poverty to respectability makes for happier reading. However, it is the moral journey of Swiveller, which perhaps reflects the geographic journey undertaken by Nell and her grandfather, which is the real joy of this book. He enters the book in the guise of a rogue, involved in dubious intrigues with Nell's no-good brother and also with the repulsive Quilp. However, from the time that Quilp gets him a job as a clerk in the office of Samson Brass and his sister, the awful Miss Brass, Swiveller's basic decency and natural good humour begin to reveal themselves, and his soliloquies and dialogue provide many hilarious moments from that point on. The Dick Swiveller who subsequently meets up with the hapless young girl kept prisoner by Miss Brass is funny, considerate, charming and kind, and a long way from the doubtful type of character that he at first appears to be.

    The book proceeds along two different narrative lines; one which charts the progress of Nell and her grandfather on their long journey, and the other revolving around Swiveller, Quilp and Kit, and to a lesser extent the families of these latter two, as well as "the single gentleman" and the little girl memorably christened "The Marchioness" by Swiveller. One of the big faults I found with this dual structure is that the characters of one plot line have no contact with those in the other plot line for most of the novel, and it is left to the Quilp, Swiveller and Kit to act out most of the drama. Nell and her grandfather spend most of their time journeying through various scenes of early nineteenth century life in England. Nonetheless these all make for enjoyable reading. One particular scene where Nell and her grandfather sleep beside a furnace in the company of a wretched man who watches the flames is particularly memorable.

    All in all, it's not exactly a page-turner, and the ending is not a happy one. I would not recommend this book as an introduction to Dickens, and is best read by people, like myself, who have already decided that anything by Dickens is worth reading. Also it focuses less on London than many Dickens novels, and gives an interesting view of rural, village and town life outside London in those times.

    This edition of the Old Curiosity Shop is outstanding. It contains all the original illustrations drawn for the book, very helpful footnotes, a chronology of Dickens's life, etc. The book takes the reader on a wild journey through the English countryside with Little Nell, an angelic girl, and her troublesome grandfather, and features a host of amusing characters as only Dickens can draw them. While it was being written in serial form, it was so popular that sailors returning to port in England were known to shout to people on shore to ask what was going on with Little Nell. Today, however, you can miss some of Dickens's nuance and humor if you don't have good footnotes to turn to. The notes in this book explain obscure terms, references to contemporary popular culture, places where the action occurs, etc. If you are going to read this book, this is the edition to buy.

    I just finished it. I read this book because I like Dickens and his way with the English language. I personally think that the reviews which are written on the back cover and elsewhere do it a disservice because they let you know that the primary character, so sweet and deserving of a happy conclusion, dies in the end, which can negatively charge one's mind concerning it from the beginning. That's what happened to me.

    As another reader/reviewer mentioned, I wouldn't recommend this as an introduction to Dickens, and I would definitely not use it as a bedtime story. However, except for the fact that Dickens spends way too much time expounding on death and graves and other dark subjects, the book does have its colorful characters and interesting places. As a literary work, I think it's great. If you like Dickens-esque English and characters, you won't be disappointed. The story, though, will have to confront your own opinion.

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