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Pickwick Papers (Penguin Popular Classics) Paperback – 25 Aug 1994

4.4 out of 5 stars 196 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 896 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New edition edition (25 Aug. 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140621105
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140621105
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 3.7 x 18 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (196 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,572,525 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


It is a lot of money, but it's also a lot of wonderfully funny stories, brilliantly read, about four trouble-prone Victorian gents pontificating, spooning, wining, dining, trundling about in stage coaches and meeting characters only Dickens could imagine and bring to vivid life. --Sue Arnold, The Guardian

In Dickens's first novel, the many adventures, or perhaps misadventures, of Mr Samuel Pickwick and his traveling companions are detailed in a series of interrelated vignettes ranging from the frightening to the absurd. David Timson is a one-man ensemble who skillfully portrays dozens of characters. He is equally adept at chilling the spine with the gravelly, breathy tones of a madman as he is at tickling the ribs with the clipped speech and perfect comedic timing of a bold charlatan. Even his female voices, while seemingly overdramatic, capture the delicate nature of Dickensian women, who are oftentimes prone to fainting spells and fits of hysteria. Like the novel itself, Timson creates a superb portrait of nineteenth-century England that Dickens himself might have declared 'a capital performance.' --- Winner of AudioFile Earphones award --M.D., AudioFile

Audiobook fans and others who have put off tackling Dickens's massive first novel will be pleased to find this splendid recording. Writing under the pseudonym of Boz, Dickens made his name as a 'humorous observer of the habits of London life in a series of articles' that he expanded into this title that includes some familiar topics and stories (a Christmas ghost story and Mr Pickwick's stint in debtor's prison) that Dickens expanded in later novels. Timson skillfully navigates the sprawling prose, reading at a brisk pace that matches the galloping and somewhat slapdash plot. Dickens's memorable characters shine through Timson s impeccable performance, certain to evoke laughter and sympathetic feelings for the characters. The large cast is populated with many lower and middle class provincials: lawyers and clerks, county magistrates, innkeepers, waiters, coachmen, each requiring a distinctive British accent, reflective of class and background. Pickwick speaks in genteel tones, coming across as good-natured, somewhat naïve, and old fashioned. Except for Pickwick, many of the characters, especially the women, come across as caricatures, both in Dickens's writing and Timson's portrayals. Sam Weller, Pickwick's manservant, with his outspokenness and cockney accent, is a clear stand out. Timson obviously relishes his role as reader of this nostalgic tale, rich in broad satire and clever irony. He masterfully brings Dickens's classic to a wide variety of listeners, including students. --Joyce Saricks, Booklist

With true artistry, narrator David Timson brings to life the misadventures of the Pickwick Club. In Dickens's first novel, Samuel Pickwick (founder and president of the eponymous club) and three 'Pickwickians' travel outside the comforts of London to document life in the English countryside. What follows is a succession of incidents filled with eccentric characters and social commentary. Clocking in around 32 hours, this audio edition would be an arduous task for any narrator, but Timson embraces this intimidating assignment with admirable aplomb. Whatever the scenario presented in prose, he matches the tone and keeps the story moving at a steady clip. He perfectly captures the author's many characters, providing spot-on vocal characterization for each one. This is an outstanding listen for both fans of Dickens and those new to his work. --- Starred Review --Publishers Weekly --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

Book Description

Charles Dickens's first novel and comic masterpiece --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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