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Ragged Dick (Norton Critical Editions) Paperback – 14 Dec 2007

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (14 Dec. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393925897
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393925890
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 1.8 x 21.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 529,258 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Hildegard Hoeller is Professor of English at the College of Staten Island, City University of New York. She is the author of Edith Wharton's Dialogue with Realism and Sentimental Fiction and co-author, with Rebecca Brittenheim, of Key Words for Academic Writers. Her essays on nineteenth and early-twentieth century American literature have appeared in many journals, among them American Literature, Studies in American Fiction, and American Literary Realism.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars 19 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars STREET URCHIN OVERCOMING ADVERSITY 25 July 2013
By Plume45 - Published on
Format: Paperback
Set on the callous streets of post Civil War New York this 130-page novelette introduces readers to a new genre by presenting a cocky street lad dubbed Ragged Dick. This new type protagonist, commonly referred to as "Our Hero," is one of a lose army of boot blacks, fending for themselves virtually friendless in a hostile city. Possessing street smarts beyond his years, as well as a generous nature, Dick proves instantly likeable--for his good looks (when not grime-covered) and his saucy repartee in saucy city dialogue. Despite being illiterate and homeless he ekes out a hand-to-mouth existence--allowing himself meager evening and culinary pleasures as his income permits. Dick also earns the respect and empathy of readers by his generous actions toward boys younger and more helpless than himself. Without adult guidance he has been cheerfully surviving on his own since he was seven.

Through encounters with various dignified and affluent gentlemen--mostly his customers--Dick receives unexpected kindness and valuable advice on how to improve his lowly station in life. Soon it becomes his goal to work hard, save up and get an education somehow--in order to make himself "respectable" some day. Christian ethics are expressed by several characters who exhort him to practice a moral and humane lifestyle.

As Dick has many adventures which point out the perils of city street life, this book may also have served as a cautionary tale for boys who were considering running away--assuming they could read. Alger implies that success can be achieve by dint of hard work, personal dedication, honesty and clean living (no gambling, music halls, drinking, smoking, stealing or lying.) Eager male readers might infer that they too could be the authors of the or own, usually-elusive Good Luck!
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Child's Book? 9 Mar. 2007
By Alicia Teodorini - Published on
Format: Paperback
This is a realistic book about a young boy doing "good" and in turn he has many lucky breaks. It is supposed to be a child's book, but I don't know how many children would voluntarily read this. I read it for my Children's Literature class and I loved it! It deals with a less severe form of didactism, which is a nice change. It is a fast read also.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A simple story with some powerful morals 19 May 2013
By David Land - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
When reviewing a story I think the easiest way to determine how many stars to give is the clarity with which you found the key points of the book and how clearly they are in your mind. This is the reason why ‘The Ragged Dick’ gets 5 stars from me. You aren’t going to find a complex work of literature here. There is no subtle web of deceit and subterfuge. The story is there right in front of you and it’s easy to absorb. Once you are finished though you will be better for the experience. There is also a strong undercurrent of business and work ethic contained in the story too which I will also address.

A superficial view of this book would say that it’s a pretty typical ‘rags to riches story’. That’s a fair assessment but there’s a lot more to it. Firstly, because a story is simple doesn’t make it bad. I feel that many novels challenge themselves to be as complex as possible without adding a massive amount to the quality of the story. The author clearly recognises this because there is never any ambiguity. The tale moves at a constant clip and you get a clear mental picture of life in NYC at this time (though I assume for many it was a lot worse than portrayed in this book). A lack of grit surrounding the nature of society at the time comes I suspect from the constant optimism of the protagonist.

As mentioned, this book has quite a capitalist story to it. It talks repeatedly about the benefits of self-improvement, saving and moral decency. I think in particular that lessons about spending less than you earn are ones that are forgotten easily – you will be well reminded by the time you finish. You could argue that the story could be a pointer toward political lines that would be comparable to what we see today. Perhaps, but I don’t think this is the key message of the book. I don’t think it impossible though that this book could readily be pointed to as a means of illustrating the benefits of being a shrewd entrepreneur.
It’s unlikely to take you long to get through this book – especially if like me you are really taken in by the story. I don’t read a tremendous amount of fiction but I will have fond memories of this story. It also has put several financial fundamentals back into the front of my mind. This alone should make the book very cheap relative to the payoff.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Almost ancient setting, but the theme "how to succeed" still applies. 21 Nov. 2014
By Norm Beavers - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I accidentally found this book and couldn't resist. It took me back to age 10 when a neighbor lent me "Up The Ladder" and I never forgot it.
I think these stories are still good for teenagers. This was a fun read and recalled my own thinking as I went from a family on state welfare to a college graduate and a reasonably successful life.
Of course the story is very dated; but the good stuff is still there.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I did not have the opportunity to read this classic ... 12 Sept. 2014
By Patricia Martin - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I did not have the opportunity to read this classic as a child. It is a charming, inspiring and entertaining story about life in New York in the 1800s. I'm following the series with the next installment, "Fame and Fortune, or The Progress of Richard Hunter."
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