80 of 81 people found the following review helpful
A masterclass in comedy and cure for the blues,
This review is from: The Pickwick Papers: The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club (Penguin Classics) (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.
In my view, The Pickwickians and Sam Weller became like good friends, whom I knew I could have a good time with, and indeed I felt surprisingly sad at having to leave them at the end of the book. Also, The Pickwick Papers is a must for anyone interested in the later works of Charles Dickens, since it contains important precursors to themes which he was to focus on in his following novels. The Christmas chapter, for example, which contains a story that appears to be an early version of A Christmas Carol, and the references to the poor and destitute who are depicted through tales told by the characters.
On the whole though this novel is an uplifting read, with plenty of loveable and more importantly realistic characters, that encompasses all areas of human life, from politics to relationships, from sport to the media. A sheer comic masterpiece to raise a smile, no matter how low the reader maybe feeling.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 16 May 2012 16:55:21 BDT
Mr. J. M. Haines says:
I do agree with all that you say, but only in relation to the first two thirds, I think it does become jaded after that, but, those first two thirds - wow! I want Christmas at Dingly Dell! Great review, even though I differ on some points.
In reply to an earlier post on 3 Sep 2014 22:08:33 BDT
William Shardlow says:
I totally disagree about it falling off after the first 2/3. It gets a bit more serious, with the Fleet prison becoming involved, but the humour is still there, along with the increased empathy between the main characters coming out. It can't all be Christmas at Dingly Dell (although, if there's a heaven, there's the best picture of it ever drawn!)
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