Dedicated to classics and hits.

Friday, June 29, 2012

The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens

Book Review
The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby
by Charles Dickens
p. 1838-1839
Public Domain edition read on a Kindle

    Charles Dickens placed 10 books onto the 1001 Books To Read Before You Die (2006 ed.) list.  In chronological order they are:  Oliver Twist, The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, A Christmas Carol, Martin Chuzzlewit, David Copperfield, Bleak House, Hard Times, A Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations.   At this point I can say that my opinion about these works is grouped into three different categories:

Oliver Twist
The Life And Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby
Bleak House
Hard Times

Great Expectations
A Christmas Carol

Martin Chuzzlewit
David Copperfield
A Tale of Two Cities

      This list excludes all of Charles Dickens "minor" works: The journalism, editorials, letters.  These minor works are very important to understanding Charles Dickens as an actual person, i.e. he was a working writer in early 19th century.  His output quite obviously transcended the place and time of it's original publication and became "classic" as well as being "hits" at the time of initial publication.  Therefore, he is an important Artist to understand, regardless of one's personal preference about the books themselves.

    In my recent review of Oliver Twist- the only list-worthy major work to be published before The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, but only in the sense that the serialization began in 1837 instead of 1838.  The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby is what you would call a "second record" in the music businesss.

     This means that Oliver Twist had been a "hit" upon initial publication, and the Publisher and Author were both eager to capitalize on the break through by commissioning another work.  An interesting difference in this regard is that Oliver Twist was a some-what improvised improvement on Charles Dickens based on a loose agreement to write a monthly "column" for a literary magazine he was in charge of editing.

   The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickelby began in January 1838, when Charles Dickens went to Yorkshire to look at the deplorable schools for young children, Oliver Twist was still in the process of being serialized, with a completion date projected in 1839, so Dickens essentially wrote Oliver Twist and The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby side-by-side, for over a year.   Out of all of Dicken's output, The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby most resembles the 18th century picaresque novel ("Life and Times") of Henry Fielding and Tobias Smollett.

   I think you can actually imagine the reception that these works must have been receiving, considering their enduring popularity.  Specifically, the September and October chapters involving the adventures of Nicholas Nickleby with the theater company of Vincent Crummles being published as Oliver Twist was drawing to a close in late 1839 must have been a spectacular one-two punch for the Audience.

  It's also easy to see the imperfections of The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickelby that were brought about by the serial nature of publication:  A proliferation of character dialogue and "red herring" episodes that  were obviously inserted to extend the length of whatever portion he was writing at the time. In Kindle format, with smaller then average type, The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickelby clocks in at 1500 pages.  It's a testament to the enduring Artistic value of the work that people still read it- that a free edition exists, etc.

Other Posts About Charles Dickens On This Blog

Book Review:  Great Expectations by Charles Dickens11/20/14
Book Review: Dickens and His Readers: Aspects of Novel Criticism Since 1836 by George H. Ford. 3/25/13
Book Review: Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens, 3/17/13.
Book Review:  Dickens Worlds by Humphrey House, 3/8/13
Book Review: Bleak House by Charles Dickens, 9/21/12
Book Review: David Copperfield by Charles Dickens, 8/23/12
Book Review: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, 7/17/12.
Book Review: The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickelby by Charles Dickens, 6/19/12.
Book Review: Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens, 6/7/12.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Jean Jacques Rousseau 300th Anniversary

Jean Jacques Rousseau sporting his "Armenian" look.

           Jean Jacques Rousseau is an Artist and a Philosopher. (Jean Jacques Rousseau 300th Anniversary Google Search)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Ormond by Maria Edgeworth

Book Review
Ormond by Maria Edgeworth
p. 1817
Penguin Classics Edition
w/ Notes and Introduction by Claire Connolly
p. 2000

  This is Maria Edgeworth's third and final title in 1001 Books To Read Before You Die 2006 edition.  Her other titles are The Absentee (1812) and Castle Rackrent (1800) and she was a contemporary of both Jane Austen- she didn't like the opening of Persuasion! and Sir Walter Scott- he acknowledged The Absentee as a primary influence on his tremendously popular Waverely novel, published two years after The Absentee, and a decade and a half after Castle Rackrent.

 Maria Edgeworth arguably wrote the first historical novel and the first regional novel.  Ormond itself is a conscious, knowing link between the Picaresque "Life and Adventures" and the more mature Bildungsroman (Coming of Age Story) of the early and mid 19th century.  This shift represents an additional level of sophistication and depth in the experience of reading a Novel.

  If you compare Marie Edgeworth's popularity to that of Sir Walter Scott and Jane Austen- her two main contemporaries (as far as posterity is concerned)- you get a pulse, but a faint pulse.

  At the same time it is important to acknowledge that the regional quality of the dialogue makings simple comprehension fairly difficult.  This book was also the last book I tracked down from the books that range from 1800 to 1820- no free Kindle edition, no Oxford Classics Edition.  Obviously this is a minor classic, and I can understand why, even as I understand why 20th century literature graduate students must have found some appeal in this text.

  Ormond is also probably the easiest of Maria Edgeworth's hits to actually read- the explicit references to Tom Jones by Henry Fielding as a model for the titular Ormond give the reader a "jumping off point" in a way that became common in Fiction in the 19th and 20th century (genre fiction.)

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