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Bleak House (Penguin Classics) [Paperback]

Charles Dickens , Nicola Bradbury
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (154 customer reviews)
RRP: 7.99
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Book Description

27 Mar 2003 Penguin Classics

Bleak House is Charles Dickens's masterful assault on the injustices of the British legal system. This Penguin Classics edition is edited with an introduction and notes by Nicola Bradbury, as well as a preface by Terry Eagleton.

As the interminable case of 'Jarndyce and Jarndyce' grinds its way through the Court of Chancery, it draws together a disparate group of people: Ada and Richard Clare, whose inheritance is gradually being devoured by legal costs; Esther Summerson, a ward of court, whose parentage is a source of deepening mystery; the menacing lawyer Tulkinghorn; the determined sleuth Inspector Bucket; and even Jo, the destitute little crossing-sweeper. A savage, but often comic, indictment of a society that is rotten to the core, Bleak House is one of Dickens's most ambitious novels, with a range that extends from the drawing rooms of the aristocracy to the poorest of London slums.

This edition follows the first book edition of 1853, and includes all the original illustrations by 'Phiz', as well as appendices on the Chancery and spontaneous combustion. In his preface, Terry Eagleton examines characterisation and considers Bleak House as an early work of detective fiction.

Charles Dickens is one of the best-loved novelists in the English language, whose 200th anniversary was celebrated in 2012. His most famous books, including Oliver Twist, Great Expectations, A Tale of Two Cities, David Copperfield and The Pickwick Papers, have been adapted for stage and screen and read by millions.

If you enjoyed Bleak House, you might like Dickens's Our Mutual Friend, also available in Penguin Classics.

'Perhaps his best novel ... when he wrote Bleak House he had grown up'

G.K. Chesterton

'One of the finest of all English satires'

Terry Eagleton


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Product details

  • Paperback: 1088 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Rev Ed edition (27 Mar 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141439726
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141439723
  • Product Dimensions: 19.9 x 13 x 4.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (154 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 159,456 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Charles Dickens was born in 1812 near Portsmouth where his father was a clerk in the navy pay office. The family moved to London in 1823, but their fortunes were severely impaired. Dickens was sent to work in a blacking-warehouse when his father was imprisoned for debt. Both experiences deeply affected the future novelist. In 1833 he began contributing stories to newspapers and magazines, and in 1836 started the serial publication of Pickwick Papers. Thereafter, Dickens published his major novels over the course of the next twenty years, from Nicholas Nickleby to Little Dorrit. He also edited the journals Household Words and All the Year Round. Dickens died in June 1870.


Product Description

Review

"Dickens's chilling tale of murder and betrayal" (Sunday Times)

"Kafka's favourite book, a tour de force that mixes grand scale and minutely-observed, perfectly-heard reality. Incomparable set-pieces (that opening! spontaneous combustion!) and dialogue" (James Hawes)

"I keep on reading it in order to discover how to write a novel" (John Mortimer)

"Bleak House reads like an encyclopedia not only of its time and place but of us" (Elizabeth Kostova)

"Bleak House is the literati's favourite Dickens. It's one of the few stories that has modern resonance: the tale of a never-ending court case can be seen -if you squint -as the precursor of Kafka and Orwell" (A.A. Gill) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

'Perhaps Bleak House is his best novel... When Dickens wrote Bleak House he had grown up' G. K. Chesterton --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
120 of 122 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A complex work of genius 31 Oct 2005
Format:Paperback
"Bleak House" opens with an astonishingly atmospheric description of a London fog … an imagery which has come to dominate our vision of 19th century London. Think how many films and television productions use this image! But fog, for Dickens, is not just a meteorological phenomena - it describes much of human life, particularly the actions and inactions of the law and lawyers which form the backbone to this novel. At the heart is the court case of Jarndyce versus Jarndyce, a family squabble which has dragged on for decades and kept many a lawyer in employment. Dickens slowly unravels this mystery for us.
'Bleak House' has a huge cast of characters and its plot is as extensive and complex as the London Underground system. It also employs a double narrative - one of the characters, Esther, acts as narrator and comments on the personal and emotional world of its characters, while an unnamed, third person narrator comments on the social and economic ills of the era. We get, therefore, a paralleling of the individual and the social. The Court of Chancery and the aristocracy are presented as a social fog - deadening, confusing, misleading, a blight on the world. Dynamism comes from the individual's emotions, hopes and fears.
While the impersonal narrator writes in the present tense and comments ironically on corruption, greed, abuses of power, and the plethora of social ills Dickens exposes and satirises in this work, Esther's account is written in the past tense, a diary reflecting on her life with optimism and hope. Dickens thus gives his reader a sense of the triumph of the individual - a comparatively lowly young woman - over the dead hand of an archaic, oppressive social system.
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44 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The greatest novel in the English language 9 Feb 2001
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The greatest novel by the greatest novelist England has ever produced, and in my opinion, the greatest novel in the language. That is how highly I regard this novel.
Bleak House is a giant book by any measure, physical or literary, triumphantly covering so much ground that it successfully paints a multi-faceted, multi-layered portrait of the whole culture and society of the Victorian Age in Britain. Bleak House is a savage satire upon the class system, the law, politics, and public morality. At the same time it is a wonderful crime novel of murder and detection, a love story, a comedy, and a piece of high Victorian melodrama. Yes, Bleak House is all these things and more.
In addition, the novel also displays Dickens' artistry as a writer of prose to the full. The famous first chapter alone - which consists almost entirely of a magnificent description of a foggy day in November - is a masterpiece of English prose. From there onwards the standard of writing never slips.
Dickens' is justly famous for the wonderful casts of characters he assembled for his novels and here again, Bleak House doesn't disappoint. It boasts a vast and interesting array of characters, especially Mr Jarndyce, Esther Summerson (the partial narrator and heroine of the book), Jo the crossing sweeper whose story will break your heart, the villainous Mr Tulkington, and the detective Inspector Bucket, one of the first detectives to appear in fiction.
I rate Bleak House as Dickens' most mature, supreme achievement as a writer. The satire is biting. The moral indignation at the injustices of the world is brave and honest. As a whole experience, no reader can afford not to read classics like Bleak House at least once. If you do miss out, you're only letting the finest things in life (reading life anyway) pass you by.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly great literature. 5 Feb 2002
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
If the tags of "classic" and "victorian" have given you the impression that Dickens is a stuffy old duffer, then please read this book. It will totally blow your preconceptions apart.
Dickens, it seems to me, was a genuine humanitarian and a rebel at heart. His contmept for the ruling classes, and his anger at the suffering of the poor would on their own make this a worthwhile read. But add to that his mastery of the language, and his comic genius, and you have here one of the most compelling stories ever written.
Occasionally his heroine, and some other characters, are so saintly you could scream. Similarly, his villains are so grotesquely despicable, you might think that the man had no grasp of human subtleties. But this is his style - he paints in broad brushstrokes. Reading Dickens is like listening to a tall tale spun by a master storyteller who can't help but exaggerate, so anxious is he that you can see what he sees.
With so many of the so-called "greats" of English literature, you need a classical education to understand the work. With Dickens, all one needs is a love of stories, of laughter and of language. And if you have a healthy contempt of the rich and powerful, then all the better.
Since we are still ruled over by pompous lawyers, I recommend this as a novel which maintains its relevance and its wit.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Needs proof-reading 7 Jan 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
There are many many more qualified reviewers of the book itself. What I really wanted to comment on is this 'premium' kindle edition. Even allowing for the overall length of the book, the number of mistakes is high, I don't have any other kindle book with so many (typos, spelling errors and other general mistakes). If this was a printed book I would be taking it back, but then if it was a printed book these errors wouldn't have been published. I wonder where the text came from, you'd think that a publisher would have the text already, this edition looks like they started copy typing from scratch.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Bleak in places
What can one say about Dickens that hasn't been said before. His mastery of the language and turns and twists of plot are superb. Read more
Published 21 days ago by teillots
5.0 out of 5 stars What could be better than Dickens
Wonderful read, as one expects from Dickens, makes the scenes come alive by one who lived during this time. Great plot of course, and my favourite Dickens novel
Published 25 days ago by Mrs D Cabrera
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent way into Dickens.
I had been thoroughly put off Dickens by being made to read David Copperfield all through from begining to end in my first term at secondary school. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Jenny
3.0 out of 5 stars Bleak House
Fine, but wish I had purchased a better publication with which to build up a library, containing helpful notes and information.
Published 2 months ago by Janet Perkins
5.0 out of 5 stars If you only read one novel in your life....
This is Dickens at his very best. All human life is here in a mysterious and moving tale.
Dark and passionate, it deals with destructiveness, sacrifice, sexual love and... Read more
Published 2 months ago by C. Gartside
4.0 out of 5 stars Village/Town Life before Industrialisation
Had seen the TV serial and its close knit community & characters fascinated me. Eventually I got round to reading the book. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Brian Dotson
5.0 out of 5 stars Bleak House
Good old Charles Dickens, what else other than perfection in this wonderful story from the master. Love all of his work, trying to get through all of them. Read more
Published 2 months ago by hollydene
4.0 out of 5 stars Nothing like Dickens
I enjoy Dickens and I think Bleak House is one of his best novels. I use my free moments to read it
Published 3 months ago by Marie Flynn
4.0 out of 5 stars A Classic Novel
After many years I've finally read some Dickens. This is a classic novel and really gives you a feel for poor social conditions, not to mention the vagaries of the legal system at... Read more
Published 3 months ago by S T Roberts
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterly
Just stunning..the plot and story threads superbly to a beautiful conclusion for all characters concerned, those that gain your sympathy and affection throughout triumph. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
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