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The Pickwick Papers (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – 21 May 1998

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Product details

  • Paperback: 784 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks; New edition edition (21 May 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192834576
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192834577
  • Product Dimensions: 19.2 x 13 x 3.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (125 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 426,448 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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First Sentence
THE first ray of light which illumines the gloom, and converts into a dazzling brilliancy that obscurity in which the earlier history of the public career of the immortal Pickwick would appear to be involved, is derived from the perusal of the following entry in the Transactions of the Pickwick Club, which the editor of these papers feels the highest pleasure in laying before his readers, as a proof of the careful attention, indefatigable assiduity, and nice discrimination, with which his search among the multifarious documents confided to him has been conducted. Read the first page
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71 of 72 people found the following review helpful By "literarywannabe" on 2 Mar 2004
Format: Paperback
The Pickwick Papers was my first real encounter with a Charles Dickens novel. Before I started reading this epic comedy, my only experience of Dickens was having read the seasonal Christmas Books (mini-masterpieces in themselves)and seen the various cinematic adaptations that we are all bought up on. I will confess at this point that I had already seen Noel Langley's 1952 film version of the book, which I deem to be one of the most hilarious films i've ever had the pleasure of seeing, and so I was a bit biased when I started reading.
However, from the first chapter I was hooked and can safely say that the novel surpassed any expectations the film had given me. Never before have I encountered a piece of literature that has made me laugh so much. The novel depicts the adventures of Mr Pickwick and his friends as they travel the country in order to observe human nature. Beyond this, there is only the faintest notion of a plot but this is the intention of the author due to the monthly form in which the book was published. The novel pretends to be nothing more than it is.
And what the novel IS, is jolly good fun. It does not take itself seriously and spans all kinds of humour, ranging from the verbal kind to memorable scenes of slapstick.This is the book by which all other comedies, be they written or cinematic, should be judged! Each new situation is unique and virtually all the characters, be they major ones or minor, are so vividly drawn that they remain with the reader a long while after the novel ends. Each of them from Mr Pickwick to Dodson and Fog are distinct, and what is even more wonderful is that the reader can laugh both at, and with, the characters.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Didier TOP 500 REVIEWER on 20 Feb 2011
Format: Paperback
For some reason I had been reading - as I'm writing this - English literature quite intensively for the last 25 years but had never read anything by Dickens. Was it because I feared being disappointed by the books, having seen several film and television adaptations? Or because of the rumours of his 'flat' characters? Whatever the case, when I recently determined this could no longer do I simultaneously resolved to go about it methodically and read Dickens' novels chronologically, which meant starting with 'The Pickwick Papers'.

I confess I felt at first rather daunted by the prospect due to the sheer size of this novel (in comparison: Oliver Twist (Oxford World's Classics) is a mere 480 pages, Hard Times (Oxford World's Classics) just over 300 pages), but as soon as I got started I was hooked instantly, and every time I opened the book to read on (an urge I could barely suppress, even during working hours) I was immediately transported back to the England of the 1820s, in the delightful company of Mr. Samuel Pickwick and his companions.

In a way, this is surprising as 'The Pickwick Papers' has little, if anything, of a plot. Mr. Pickwick founds an amateur club 'to enlarge his sphere of observation, to the advancement of knowledge, and the diffusion of learning' (as it says on page 1), and the rest of the book chronicles the adventurous travels across England of Mr. Pickwick and his 3 companions (Mr. Snodgrass, Mr. Tupman, and Mr. Winkle). So why would one feel this incessant appetite to read on and find out 'what happens next'?
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 15 Nov 2001
Format: Paperback
...Dickens' first novel is a comic masterpiece; his reading public hoped in vain that he would continue to produce humorous novels, and although his subsequent works have humorous (generally satirical) elements, they all fundamentally bear a much heavier, serious message. This is simply an enjoyable romp. "Ode to an expiring frog" is genius.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By S. Hapgood VINE VOICE on 3 Dec 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Dickens's first, and most light-hearted, work. It's an episodic novel, originally published in monthly installments, about the adventures of Mr Pickwick, the wannabe-womaniser Mr Tupman, the poet Mr Snodgrass and Mr Winkle, who have all formed a club, the aim of which is simply to observe life. You can see the influence it had on much later works by the likes of P G Wodehouse, E F Benson etc. There are many funny scenes here, some involving broad slapstick, such as Mr Pickwick being dumped in a wheelbarrow in the village pond! There's even fore-runners of the bedroom farce, as in the episode when Mr Pickwick ends up, (purely by accident you understand), in the bedroom of a middle-aged lady at a hotel in Ipswich. Coming in and out of the story at intervals is the incorrigible chancer Mr Jingle, who makes a living trying to con money out of impressionable women. This also must be where the Dickensian image of Christmas first came from, with the Pickwickians going to spend a traditional Christmas at Dingley Dell. Dickens achieves the feat of creating a light-hearted comedy, which never descends into whimsy. It is a tale of stagecoaches (coming to the end of their natural life, as the railway was beginning to take off when Dickens wrote this), poor people living off oysters, with oyster-stalls along the streets (not then a rich man's delicacy), and vivid details of coaching inns and old London hostelries. It is an engaging tribute to the late Georgian era of Dickens's youth.
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