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The Mystery of Edwin Drood (Penguin Classics) [Paperback]

Charles Dickens
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
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Book Description

28 Mar 2002 Penguin Classics

Charles Dickens's final, unfinished novel, and one that has puzzled readers and inspired writers since its publication, The Mystery of Edwin Drood is edited with an introduction by David Paroissien in Penguin Classics.

Edwin Drood is contracted to marry orphan Rosa Bud when he comes of age, but when they find that duty has gradually replaced affection, they agree to break off the engagement. Shortly afterwards, in the middle of a storm on Christmas Eve, Edwin disappears, leaving nothing behind but some personal belongings and the suspicion that his jealous uncle John Jasper, madly in love with Rosa, is the killer. And beyond this presumed crime there are further intrigues: the dark opium dens of the sleepy cathedral town of Cloisterham, and the sinister double life of Choirmaster Jasper, whose drug-fuelled fantasy life belies his respectable appearance. Dickens died before completing The Mystery of Edwin Drood, leaving its tantalising mystery unsolved and encouraging successive generations of readers to turn detective.

This edition contains an introduction by David Paroissien, discussing the novel's ending, with a chronology, notes, original illustrations by Samuel Luke Fildes, appendices on opium use in the nineteenth century, the 'Sapsea Fragment' and Dickens's plans for the story's conclusion.

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 The Mystery of Edwin Drood, you might like Dickens's Little Dorrit, also available in Penguin Classics.


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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; New Ed edition (28 Mar 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140439269
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140439267
  • Product Dimensions: 19.7 x 12.9 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 199,700 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Book Description

With an exclusive introduction by Peter Ackroyd, these out of print editions are brought back to life with a fresh and timeless new look. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Back Cover

Charles Dickens’s final, unfinished novel has inspired generations of speculation … Choirmaster John Jasper is a man of deep hypocrisy. His public reputation is flawless yet privately he leads an immoral life, frequenting squalid opium dens. And although outwardly he seems delighted with the betrothal of his nephew Edwin Drood to Rosa Bud, one of his choristers, secretly he is consumed by jealousy. But he is not alone in hoping for Edwin’s demise. Among others, hot-tempered Neville Landless has also made an enemy of Drood - so when Edwin disappears, at whom should the accusing finger point? This special edition features an exclusive introduction by the highly acclaimed writer Peter Ackroyd, one of Britain’s leading literary biographers. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
An ancient English Cathedral town? How can the ancient English Cathedral town2 be here! The well-known massive grey square tower of its old Cathedral? How can that be here! There is no spike of rusty iron in the air, between the eye and it, from any point of the real prospect. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
40 of 40 people found the following review helpful
By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAME TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Set in Cloisterham, a cathedral town, Dickens's final novel, unfinished, introduces two elements unusual for Dickens--opium-eating and the church. In the opening scene, John Jasper, music teacher and soloist in the cathedral choir, awakens from an opium trance in a flat with two other semi-conscious men and their supplier, an old woman named Puffer, and then hurries off to daily vespers.
Jasper, aged twenty-six, is the uncle and guardian of Edwin Drood, only a few years younger. Drood has been the fiancé of Rosa Bud for most of his life, an arrangement made by his and Rosa's deceased fathers to honor their friendship, and the wedding is expected within the year. Jasper, Rosa's music teacher, is secretly in love with her, though she finds him repellent.
When two orphans, Helena and Neville Landless, arrive in Cloisterham, Helena and Rosa become friends, and Neville finds himself strongly attracted to the lovely Rosa. Ultimately, the hot-tempered Neville and Drood have a terrible argument in which Neville threatens Drood before leaving town on a walking trip. Drood vanishes the same day. Apprehended on his trip, Neville is questioned about Drood's disappearance, and Jasper accuses him of murder.
Tightly organized to this point, the novel shows Jasper himself to be a prime suspect, someone who could have engineered the evidence against Neville, but Dickens unexpectedly introduces some new characters at this point--the mysterious Dick Datchery and Tartar, an old friend of Rev. Mr. Crisparkle, minor canon at the cathedral. Puffer, the opium woman, is reintroduced and appears set to play a greater role, since she solicits information from the semi-conscious Jasper and secretly follows him.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars what might have been. 15 Nov 2003
By S. Hapgood VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It's impossible to forget when reading this that it is only half the size of what it should have been. Dickens died almost exactly halfway through finishing it, and it is easy to see that if he had lived it would have ranked as one of his truly great novels. There is also no denying that Dickens comes across as somewhat jaundiced with human nature in the closing months of his life. He has very little to say that is positive about the cathedral city of Cloisterham, and his anger at the hypocrisy and double-standards of the life there practically leaps off the page at you. Nowhere is this more apparent than in his creation of John Jasper, one of his darkest characters. Jasper is the leading memeber of the Cloisterham choir, but in his spare time he is an opium-addict who haunts the sleaziest dens in the pursuit of his fix. Not only that but he terrifies young Rosa Budd with his designs on her, and plots to do away with his nephew, the Edwin Drood of the title, in the most dastardly and cunning way .... or does he? The fact that "The Mystery of Edwin Drood" is unfinished leaves that question hanging resolutely in mid-air. We come away from the book none the wiser not only as to whether Edwin has been murdered by his wicked uncle, but even whether he really is alive or dead. It is the mystery of literature that has tantalised readers ever since Dickens wrote it in 1870. There are many reasons to bemoan the fact that the book was never finished, not only the obvious chief one that Dickens died, but that the book clearly had the makings of a first-rate murder mystery. Read more ›
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sinister and curious (and good) 10 Nov 2011
Format:Paperback
I bought a secondhand copy of this book - that dated from 1896 - from an old bookshop in Northumberland. As usual with Dickens, I was soon hooked. What really stood out was the character of John Jasper, with his opium den habit, his choir singing, and his stalking ways... he is hopelessly in love with Rosa Bud, who has an arrangement to be married to Edwin Drood, a decent sort of chap. While Jasper is Rosa's music teacher, she feels his leer and is frightened. They are living in a provincial town, said to be based on Rochester, and most local matters are observed by others. But not all... which is the genius of this unfinished novel, Dickens died before it was completed in 1870 -- giving the story all the more mystery, as you don't obviously find out the ending. Helena and Neville Landless, with foreign-coloured skin, arrive in Cloisterham; youngsters to be looked after by Mr Crisparkle and the Nuns' House, where Rosa, who has a biggish inheritance coming her way, lives. They provide a spark, as Neville has an eye for Rosa, provoking outward annoyance in Edwin (and inward consternation in John Jasper), that leads to the 'mystery'. Somehow or other, Edwin disappears one night. Neville, known to be argumentative and hot-blooded, is 'captured' and considered the prime suspect, on the encouragement of Jasper... but obviously that would be too pat. Meanwhile Jasper declares his love to Rosa, spooking her so much that she rushes off to London, where the man in charge of her inheritance, the hilariously weird Mr Grewgious, sorts out an abode. And the book ends as Jasper returns to his favourite opium den run by "'Er Royal Highness the Princess Puffer" (which gives you an insight into the wit of the book). This meeting results in Jasper being found out by one sharp-eyed fellow, in Cloisterham... Read more ›
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