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This was Dickens' own personal favourite of all his novels, and here we are presented it with an active table of contents. There is no doubt that this is a great novel and has been admired by Tolstoy and Woolf amongst many authors who have enjoyed it or have been given inspiration due to it. Of all Dickens' novels this is also his most autobiographical.

The story although long is simple in itself, it is the tale of David Copperfield from his birth through to his maturity, what obstacles he faces in life and what friends he makes. With a whole host of great characters there is nothing to dislike with this tale, and in the case of Betsy Trotwood, were inspired by real people. Betsy was based on Mary Strong who lived at Broadstairs and really did chase the boys and their donkeys off her lawn, resulting in legal proceedings being initiated. Other characters and events were based on real happenings.

If you like to read for pleasure and want to immerse yourself in something that is really great then you can't really go wrong with this book.
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on 12 December 2014
Tedious, I have read many of Dickens's novels and found only the brief Oliver Twist and the tortuous Great Expectations actually engaging and entertaining. In this novel, as with The Old Curiosity Shop I find myself feeling that the female characters existed only for Dickens to create a miserable existence for them, one they had neither the wits or the will to escape. I think Dickens was brilliant at descriptive prose, didn't understand women came in other character types than the middle class damsel in distress or working class prostitute/murderess and tended to write the same story arc but simply shifted the heroes age,the time frame and the location of his story.
I honestly think that although he could exercise admirably concise descriptive prose his story narration and many of the events he over elaborates on are sometimes painfully boring and extraneous.
If Nicholas Nickleby etc made me think Dickens had a fascination with the mawkish and miserable then David Copperfield made me feel he had strange ideas about women, ideas I found annoying. I realise Dickens own experiences and that of his family are often portrayed I thinly disguised form in hus books, but his strange ideas are there as well.. I really don't like the way he portrays women.
By all means make your own assessment, but I have come to the conclusion Dickens is over rated, he wrote Scrooge as well and all those dire overly sentimental Christmas tales..
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on 12 December 2017
“Great Expectations” was required reading in my 9th grade English class; “A Tale of Two Cities” was assigned in 10th grade and “David Copperfield” in 12th. To reread “Great Expectations” after almost half a century is to rediscover a story that isn’t what I remembered it to be.

Yes, I remembered the hero named Pip, short for Philip Pirrip. I knew the story started when he meets an escaped convict in a churchyard cemetery. I recalled that most vivid of characters, images and scenes, Miss Havisham, the aging lady who was abandoned a few hours before her wedding and who had shut herself in, still wearing the once-white and now yellowing wedding dress, with her insect-infested wedding cake still on the table, and all the clocks in the house stopped at 20 minutes to 9 a.m., the exact time she learned that her groom-to-be had disappeared, with quite a bit of her money. And I remembered Estella, the beautiful girl adopted by Miss Havisham, who would come to an instrument of revenge upon all men by Miss Havisham.

What I didn’t remember, however, was most of the book. Pip has a history; he’s living with his sister and brother-in-law Joe Gargery after the death of his mother. I didn’t remember how Pip became entangled with Miss Havisham and Estella (Miss Havisham decided Estella needed a playmate). I didn’t remember how Pip unexpectedly becomes the beneficiary of a generous (and unknown) patron. I also didn’t remember how much the story is the account of Pip growing up, not only physically but emotionally and spiritually; for much of the novel, Pip is rather snobbish and almost callow, embarrassed by his working-class roots and the brother-in-law who loves him like a son.

I also didn’t remember how funny “Great Expectations” can be. Dickens was a comic genius in his character descriptions, especially of Pip’s sister Georgiana; a local character named Mr. Pumblechuck; a boy who works in a tailor and undertaker business and is simply known as “Trabb’s boy,” no matter how old he gets; and the mother of his good friend Herbert, Mrs. Belinda Pocket, the lady reared by her father to carry a title but who had missed that opportunity. What I’d forgotten was how much the story needed these comic characters and the humor, because it is a serious story, almost continually bordering on tragedy.

And I’d forgotten the atmosphere. The scenes drawn by Dickens are so striking and so real that you think you’re in Joe Gargery’s blacksmith shop, Miss Havisham’s dining room with the insects and rats, the churchyard with Pip and the convict, in Mr. Jagger’s law offices, or in Pip’s and Herbert’s room in the Temple area of London.

It is notable that “Great Expectations” was the second novel (after “David Copperfield”) to be told in the first person. All of the previous works had had a third-person narrative viewpoint. That viewpoint helps give the story its power; like Copperfield, Pip is not a character invented out of whole cloth but has a considerable amount of his author in him.

Perhaps the most important thing I didn’t remember was “Great Expectations” as a story of family, of friendship, of love unrequited. It is a story about the choices we make, the things that happen to us, and how the choices and events shape us and change us. It’s about opportunities just within our grasp but lost.

What a marvelous story this is.
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on 12 June 2013
Although David Copperfield has the added novelty of it being somewhat autobiographical, it is ultimately still a work of fiction; the trouble is, it is an over-long work of fiction and is spoiled by the literary overkill.

As the basic story is so well known, although no doubt more due to the film and TV adaptations, it won't be covered in detail here. But there are still some points I think are still worth covering.

The core yarn is fine. A young David brought up in modest comfort and security by his mother, Clara, and the old faithful and of course stereotypical archetypal lumpy bumpy rosy cheeked lovely but fussy nurse, Peggoty. This is of course ruined when Basil Rathbone, er, I mean Mr Murdstone (he was so well cast!), and sister, comes onto the scene, and here David's woes begin. David then escapes the tyranny of the Murdstones, or so he thinks, but enters into the lion's den; more tyranny courtesy of wicked school master, Creakle. David, despite making friends with Traddles, and seemingly besotted with the important character of Steerforth, takes too many beatings, 'jumps ship' and walks to Dover to his aunt's. Here we'll leave the nitty gritty, as I am sure it is known inside out. But the tale goes on to be classic Dickens, with the central character not always so absolutely central, as others David meets have humdrum to dramatic lives of their own, some of it with David still at the core, sometimes at the disinterested margins. But herein lies the problems in my opinion.

Certain characters and situations could have been lost in the final draft, and no single reader would have batted an eyelid. The character of three feet nothing dwarf Mrs Mowcher is one such character. Traddles is useful here and there, but his own side-tale (too slight to call it a sub-plot) could also easily have been given the old heave-ho. The Macawbers, despite Mr Macawber being for sure a great character and benefit to the book, also, in the end, has too much space and those sections were prime for reduction but no doubt the serialisation before the single volume maybe benefitted from such padding. Also, and I know many would not agree, but the tragic Dora would have improved the book by her non-existence; despite David being besotted she is not even likeable and by this stage, all readers I am sure are wondering why he isn't with Agnes. We come to Martha, then Rosa Dartle. Martha, 'fallen lady' of Yarmouth, a draftee I think to help out at certain points in the plot but - still not needed really. Rosa - I just don't 'get her' - a victim of a hammer attack and she defends the attacker - at least inconsistently. I also think the jail sequence was a waste of print, to be honest. Ok, it fits in with DC being CD in some respects and we all know prison reform was a favourite with CD, but - it just seemed like a pointless add-on.

The bits that work fine : Steerforth's tale and connections with David (here CD really gets undiscerning admiration through youthful naivety spot on); Uriah Heep, superb character; Agnes and Pops Wickfield, the Doctor and Annie, all the Yarmouth house-boat sort-of family - but even then, their dedicated sections could easily have been abridged and the tale would have been better for it.

And that's it really. Like many Victorian classics, there's a slimmer, sharper, more concise volume just bursting to get out; the trouble is, it's over a century and a half too late. So all in all, it's worth it's 3 stars but would have been more if it had not had its bogged-downiness making IT 900 pages when 500 would have been fine and dandy.
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on 20 March 2013
The reason I bought a Kindle was the opportunity to read so-called classics at no cost. I struggled through a Tale of Two Cities. After background reading I opted for David Copperfield next as this was apparently Dickens’ own personal favourite. Without doubt, this is the most tedious book I have ever read. My wife also has a Kindle and we have been reading the same books and discussing what we have thought about them. It wasn’t a race but I have finished first and she still has 23% to go. I’m not sure who “won”; me for finishing first and thus wasting hours of my life in doing so, or my wife who is sorely tempted just to give up now and writing iot off as a bad job.
If ever there was a literary equivalent of The Emperor’s new clothes, then this has to be it.
This book is so boring it is unbelievable. Go and watch paint dry, it is much more satisfying.
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on 14 August 2015
David Copperfield is the 12th book I have read by Charles Dickens. Most of his books are pretty large but this one is on a whole different level. The story is told by David Copperfield himself and follows him from just before he was born through all his trials and tribulations until he is a settled adult.

“My meaning simply is, that whatever I have tried to do in life, I have tried with all my heart to do well; that whatever I have devoted myself to, I have devoted myself to completely; that in great aims and in small, I have always been thoroughly in earnest.”
― Charles Dickens, David Copperfield

Of all the Dickens books I have read so far this is middling. No where near as bad as bleak house or our mutual friend but it lacks something that Nickolas Nickelby, The tale of two cities and great expectations have.

“Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show.”
― Charles Dickens, David Copperfield

Copperfield’s aunt is a fantastic character and Mr Micawber is a delightfully forever optimistic constant. It was said that Mr Micawber was modeled on Dickens own Father. After reading a biography of Dickens I have to admit that this seems very likely.

“Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pound ought and six, result misery.”
― Charles Dickens, David Copperfield

There was less humor in this book as in others of Dickens which is probably what I found lacking. Copperfield is a lovable character although I can’t say the same for Dora who really is rather irritating!

I never could have done what I have done, without the habits of punctuality, order, and diligence, without the determination to concentrate myself on one object at a time.”
― Charles Dickens, David Copperfield

You will also love to hate the vile Uriah Heep and cheer when finally Agnes is viewed in another light by Copperfield. If you have never read a Dickens book maybe not start with this one but f you are used to his style then I think you will enjoy this book.

Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show. To begin my life with the beginning of my life, I record that I was born (as I have been informed and believe) on a Friday, at twelve o’clock at night. It was remarked that the clock began to strike, and I began to cry, simultaneously.”
― Charles Dickens, David Copperfield
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on 31 August 2016
Beware: This is an abridged version. They could've been a bit more clearer on discribtion of this (perhaps by mentioning it on the cover?). Haven't read it before and therefore only found out later. So this kinda spoiled a potentially great novel for me. Thanks Puffin!

Seriously, who tries to sell an abridged version to anyone who doesn't clearly wanna buy it?! Just sell the original!
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VINE VOICEon 27 March 2012
"We love [David Copperfield] because we feel more alive reading it than we do living." Gish Jen

2012 is a good year to (re)read Dickens, the bicentenary of his birth, and although David Copperfield weighs in at around 870 pages in this Signet Classics edition, it feels much lighter. Gish Jen's afterword is succinct and grapples with a bit of everything concerning the autobiographical nature of the novel, and Dickens' strengths and weaknesses as a writer.

What can be said about the novel itself, Dickens' "favourite child", beloved of Tolstoy, and even Woolf--no great admirer of Dickens--deigned to call it his "most perfect" work. It's accepted as being his most autobiographical work, informed by his own famously good memory which perhaps explains why Copperfield's childhood (the very best part of the novel for me) feels so authentic. The usual social themes are at work here, especially the probing of the effects of poverty, and the plight of children and the weak generally. Love also looms largely, and our hero's development will not be complete, nor will true happiness be attained, until he has understood the errors of his "undisciplined heart".

Though I admit to preferring the shorter faster-paced Great Expectations, it's impossible not to acknowledge the stellar cast of characters that are arguably this novel's biggest asset. As David Copperfield makes his way through life he is joined by many characters that once read, can never be forgotten: the pernicious Mr Murdstone, stepfather from Hell and his sister as brutal echo; the eccentric aunt, Betsey Trotwood (convinced Copperfield should have been a girl) whose long-overdue showdown with the Murdstones (donkeys and all) is classic; the Peggottys who remain faithful and noble throughout their sufferings; the slithering evil that is Uriah Heep; the "mad" magical Mr Dick and his kite-flying; the soft-hearted Wickfields; the perennially impecunious Wilkins Micawber and so the list goes on and on.

I always find my memories of Dickens' novels to be very visual; there's something about his writing that allows him to create the most theatrical of sets and characters through which he weaves the tragedy and comedy of life. If this is, as is often levelled at him, because of their one-dimensional nature then it can only be marvelled at all the more that they continue to engage us so completely that we may spot their types walking the streets today. Perhaps it is in the complex interrelations of all these types as the story progresses, where they are still capable of surprising us (with delight and humour and horror) that they are brought so brilliantly to life.

There are novels that are the quintessence of their authors; in Dickens' case that novel is David Copperfield. It is a tale that takes as its base its author's life, frees it into fictional form and crafts it with all the wiles and hooks at a serial storyteller's command. The result is Dickensian to the core and page-turning rags-to-riches fables don't come in better packages than this!
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on 20 January 2008
Copperfield is Dickens' masterpiece and it is his semi-autobiographical approach which makes the work doubly fascinating. The similarities between Copperfield and the historical Dickens- which are numerous- add a potency and extra interest to the narrative.

Still, it is the wonderful likeability and absurdity of so many of the characters in DC which really make the story. Barkiss, Peggotty, Ham and Agnes are wonderfully virtuous and kind- if uncomplicated in their different ways.

Heap and Steerforth- who share in common their eventual villainy- are, by no coinicidence, contrastingly complex, unfathomable throughout and misguided.

However, the problems of simplicity are evident in Dora: Dickens acknowledges limits to the virtuosity of simplicity. Her downfall is nevertheless tragic, but we know it is in the interests of David's long term happiness to marry Agnes.

Dickens' achievement in the book is his profound sympathy for the human condition: there is virtue in every rank, but virtue takes many forms. Moreover, Dickens shows how inextricably he perceives one's life as constructed around the lives and fortunes of those one encounters in youth. It is striking that Copperfield's life is essentially determined by those he encounters in his formative years. The most important and complex role and character is that of his Aunt, almost an eccentric fairytale godmother character, whose contibution almost suggests her metaphysical condition as a kind of guiding light. She rescues David and looks after him when noone else will. The tenuous conditions upon which humans succeed and fail are clear because of her role.

The book is memorable, complicated and profound: it immortalised Dickens himself as well as his characters.
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Firstly, this book has no introduction, illustrations, or notes. It is a revised text of the first edition, when this story appeared in book form after being serialised in 'Household Words'. This was Dicken's favourite book that he wrote and has long been a favourite of many people since. This is his most personal and biographical novel.

The story is about the life of David Copperfield, from childhood to successful adult; following his and his friends and acquaintances trials and tribulations. This is one of Dickens' most enjoyable novels and the second novel, starting with Dombey and Son, where Dickens tightened his plots and started tackling more social issues.

This novel also has some of Dickens' most memorable characters. David Copperfield is based upon Charles Dickens himself. Mr Micawber is based upon his father. And, Betsey Trotwood is based upon a family acquaintance. In fact, if you ever visit the Dickens Museum at Broadstairs, Kent you will be entering the home of the real 'Betsey', and you will see the garden that she used to chase the donkeys from. Also in this book you have the sly and oily Uriah Heep, who seems to me to be the prototype for Gollum.

This book abounds with characters and incidents and is a real delight for anyone who likes a good read. You can also see the seeds of Bleak House and Little Dorrit amongst its pages.
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