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Bleak House

3.98 of 5 stars 3.98  ·  rating details  ·  58,962 ratings  ·  2,553 reviews
Part of Penguin's beautiful hardback Clothbound Classics series, designed by the award-winning Coralie Bickford-Smith, these delectable and collectible editions are bound in high-quality colourful, tactile cloth with foil stamped into the design. As the interminable case of Jarndyce and Jarndyce grinds its way through the Court of Chancery, it draws together a disparate gr ...more
Hardcover, Clothbound, 1037 pages
Published October 6th 2011 by Penguin Classics (first published 1853)
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Community Reviews

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Dec 02, 2007 Jessica rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fresh young people who have not yet ruined their eyesight
Shivering in unheated gaslit quarters (Mrs. Winklebottom, my plump and inquisitive landlady, treats the heat as very dear, and my radiator, which clanks and hisses like the chained ghost of a boa constrictor when it is active, had not yet commenced this stern and snowy morning), I threw down the volume I had been endeavoring to study; certainly I am not clever, neither am I intrepid nor duly digligent, as after several pages I found the cramped and tiny print an intolerable strain on my strabism ...more
Feb 27, 2012 B0nnie rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: you
Shelves: favourite-books
Bleak House. How can it be over? I hold this incredible book in my hand and can’t believe I have finished it. The 965 page, 2 inch thick, tiny-typed tome may seem a bit intimidating. Relax, you can read it in a day - that is, if you read one page per minute for 16 hours. And you might just find yourself doing that.

Bleak House is more Twilight Zone than Masterpiece Theatre. However there is enough spirit of both to satisfy everyone. And indeed it should - it has it all - unforgettable characte

Reading Bleak House has had a redeeming effect for me. Before this marvel took place Dickens evoked for me either depressing black and white films in a small and boxy TV watched during oppressive times, or reading what seemed endless pages in a still largely incomprehensible language. Dickens meant then a pain on both counts.

In this GR group read I have enjoyed Bleak House tremendously.

In the group discussion many issues have been brought up by the members. First and foremost the critique on the
Paul Bryant
Okay, so this is the 1853 version of The Wire. But with less gay sex. And no swearing. And very few mentions of drugs. And only one black person, I think, maybe not even one. And of course it's in London, not Baltimore. But other than that, it's the same.

Pound for pound, this is Dickens' best novel, and of course, that is saying a great deal. I've nearly read all of them so you may take my word. Have I ever written a review which was anything less than 101% reliable, honest and straightforward?
I know, something about a 900 page book with bleak in the title doesn’t exactly scream “summer fun”. Nevertheless, this was a page-turner with more laugh-out-loud moments than any book I've read in recent memory. Who could have seen that coming?? And it's gripping enough that I can understand why it was a bestseller, in spite of Dickens’ harsh social criticism and his rather daring innovation of dual narratives. But the story is a winner largely because of the dual narratives, which bob and weav ...more
I get why people dislike the legal system. It’s slow, complicated, and costly. And the only time you hear about it is when an apparently horrible decision is reached. (I shudder at how many people were ready to scrap the jury system after the Casey Anthony verdict).

As a lawyer, though, I see the legal system’s virtues (and as a public defender, its virtues, for me at least, do not include a hefty paycheck). For one, lawsuits are a better alternative than self-help justice. If your neighbor build
Jason Koivu
Between Thanksgiving and Christmas my reading pace ground to a halt. Thanks a lot Dick...........ens!

This is a long book, but I've read longer ones that didn't seem half as long as Bleak House. Saharan-esque stretches of plodding plot didn't help. But more than that, this book suffers from having too much character, and characters with character, characterful characters with character to spare and well, you get the point.

By the time Dickens had written Bleak House he'd experienced almost every
Dave Russell
Finally finished it and it only took me four months [pats self on back, does a little victory dance and then weeps,] but I'm so glad I read it. This is a book--like The Brothers Karamozov--that makes the subsequent books the author wrote seem superfluous. It contains multitudes. All of humanity is represented here (well, all of Victorian English humanity at any rate.) The truest--and shortest--sentence of the book is the first one: "London."

The organizing metaphor of the book is the Chancery Co
May 25, 2013 Mike rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
Recommended to Mike by: Kindred Spirits Group Read
Bleak House: Charles Dickens on Fog and Fossils

"The wheels of justice turn slowly but grind exceedingly fine.

 photo BleakHouseIssue1_zps86f575ac.jpg
Issue One, Bleak House, March, 1852

Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of this review or whether that station shall be held by another will depend upon the lines on this page. For, you see, although I was not born a lawyer I became one.

I would beg the reader's attention to hold a moment. For, as Charles Lamb has told us, "Lawyers, I suppose, were children once." I was--an innocent
MJ Nicholls
Roll back to 1986—I was touring with Loudon Wainwright III upon the release of his More Love Songs album (which includes the famous ‘Your Mother & I’) when Loud strikes up a confab about Dickens. “Nicholls,” he begins, bunk-loafing in his usual roguish manner. “I do declay-ah that Bleak House is the greatest novel of the century, yessir-ee.” I was strumming a zither at the time, co-writing a song that would later appear on History. “Loud, you must be out of your mind. Everyone knows now that ...more

Dickens is all about sentiments– you may run down his books as melodramas, tear-jerkers, 'poverty-porn' & so on but there is no denying their visceral appeal, for what are we without sentiments?

Bleak House, Dickens' masterpiece, has all of his staple/ trademark ingredients– an inheritance, a missing will, a mystery, angelic damsels, fairy godfather, old school gentlemen, evil-plotting villains, grotesque caricatures, a wide variety of humour- from biting satire, drollery, to crazy slapstick,
One of the pleasures of reading a few books of an author's work is to see the parallels and changing style. Here in this huge late Dickens slice of life social commentary is combined with comic grotesques. Political commentary is given depth with sentimentality. The Jarndyce and Jarndyce case, a gigantic cog wheel whose teeth catch up one smaller wheel after after. All of society seems to be caught up from the street sweeper to the noble Baronet in a single huge mechanism driven by avarice rathe ...more

And so thirty-one Regency romances, fifteen Kindle freebies, innumerable cups of tea and many more books later, I have finally finished this Dickens masterpiece. It took me exactly thirteen months, and I had time to read an alarming total of eighty-three books in between the start and finish of Bleak House.

Why the five stars then, you ask? If it took me that long to get through it, surely it's not worth the effort?

Well, it is. It's awesome.

Very put-downable in my opinion though, and I will be
Gary  the Bookworm
I find it hard to believe that it's only been a month since I first entered Bleak House. The Goodreads group read had been going on for some time and I was so far behind that I pretty much listened/read it on my own. I had trouble finding a good audio version (don't bother with Librivox and if you buy it at iTunes, be forewarned that the Apple geniuses won't let you bookmark easily; thankfully there's an app that will). Anyway it took me awhile to work out the details and immerse myself in what ...more
Bleak House was Charles Dickens’ 1853 novel that documents the tragi-comic events surrounding the chancery court case of Jarndyce v Jarndyce.

Told with an unusual blend of shifting perspectives, the first being a first person narrative and the second an omniscient, present tense narrator, Dickens describes a London where justice is turned upside down and personal values are intertwined with the doleful legal system.

As with most of Dickens novels, Bleak House features an extraordinary cast and t
This is only the second Dickens novel I've ever read and it was probably not the best novel to read around Christmas time. The story is bleak and gloomy. It's set in foggy, dirty Victorian London, there is a lot of mention of dirt, squalor, disease, death and poverty. Some parts were really quite depressing and upsetting.

The story is narrated in part by the orphaned Esther, who I had a lot of trouble warming up to in the story. I'm used to stronger female narrators but she was too modest, probab

Overwhelmed is how I would describe myself when facing the task of reducing this monumental work to a couple of paragraphs for easy consumption on the internet. Dickens manages to capture the spirit of his times on a grand canvas, doing for English literature and early Victorian society what Hugo did for the French, Tolstoy for the Russians, Goethe for the Germans. The main difference I noticed, is that Dickens focus is not on great battles that changed the course of history or larger than life
Bleak House the novel is – as you would expect – pretty bleak, but Bleak House the eponymous house in the book is one of the happier places to be found therein. In any case this being a Dickens novel you should not expect a wall to wall bleak fest. You would need to pop over to Hardyverse (also called Wessex) for those.

Bleak House is difficult to synopsize, it is about so many things and so many people. It has a very large cast of characters and a lot of intrigues. However, don’t let that put yo
Jennifer (aka EM)
"The few words that I have to add to what I have written, are soon penned; then I, and the unknown friend to whom I write, will part for ever. Not without much dear remembrance on my side. Not without some, I hope, on his or hers." p.985

This is Dickens in 1853 writing to his reader through Esther as he brings to a close what I and just about everyone on my GR friends list acknowledge as Dickens' finest, most memorable novel.

Dang, but it holds up well – whether 160 years since publication or the

It was OK, but I'm afraid I just don't much enjoy Dickens. I know that's my problem. Maybe they'll invent a surgical procedure some time that will allow me to correct it.
(4.5) This tome of a novel is by many regarded as Dickens’s finest novel, and I can see why. Like many of Dickens’s books, Bleak House is bursting with life and brimming with personalities. It is full of heart and humour – two of the traits that I appreciate most in books. Clever is good, too, but if a book doesn’t have a heart, it loses its point for me. Dickens’s books always have a big, beating heart, but are constructed (and written) cleverly, too. What I also value in books, and which Bleak ...more
And Dickens created woman. Never breathed a more pure, more compassionate, more true soul than Dickens' take on the Platonic forms of Beauty and Good, our dear Miss Esther Summerson. So sweet, so kind, so generous and forgiving, our narrator and the main character of Dickens' magnus opus will make readers want to bop Chuck D on the head and rant "In the name of all women, what are you doing?". His idolization and idealization of the opposite and "fairer" sex will jostle readers and induce nausea ...more
I am guessing Esther is suppose to be Dickens' portrayal of perfect, Victorian femininity, but she is a bore most of the time. She has her moments though. Mannnn, why is everyone so lame towards Mr. Guppy? He is the Duckie of the 19th century. Lady Dedlock was my favorite character (besides Mr. Bucket), so I am not happy that she got the short end of the stick. Skimpole the f-ing man child (literally) gets off better than Lady Dedlock! I guess the fact that I am still passionate about these char ...more
Un solo aggettivo per definire questo voluminoso romanzo: magnifico. Con tutti i suoi limiti, costituiti da un numero enorme di pagine, più di 800, di cui, se andiamo ad approfondire, forse meno della metà sarebbe bastata per renderlo un grande libro; mai mi sono annoiata, però, durante la lettura, solo qualche pagina più lenta che si legge con una certa impazienza, ma sempre con “quel piccolo brivido che si sente dietro le scapole” che Nabokov definisce “la forma più alta di emozione che l’uman ...more
Emma Flanagan
I'm not the biggest Dickens fan but as I'm trying to read more classics this year I felt I should give him a shot again. Bleak House was recommended to me so it seemed like a good place to start. It's effectively a Victorian soap or drama, with numerous storylines. When you consider that Dickens often published his novels in serial, they effectively were. With all the plots and characters you need your wits about you as the stories interweave with each other, and eventually all come together.

aPriL does feral sometimes
Shakespeare is first. Dickens is second. Then the rest.

‘Bleak House’ reverberates and seduces and sparkles with beautiful language. I found myself drunk with the lovely sentences. It took a bit to focus on the plot, and I needed to re-read and re-read (joyful duty) but I was finally able to pay attention to the story. Oh, what perspicacious depths! Lost again….

I cannot believe this was a serialized novel. I always thought published serials required quick production and a disgusting amount of aud
Classic Literature is "sometimes" composed of boring words, made into a boring story with a boring pace, that has a boring plot, populated with boring characters playing different boring roles.

Fine. This may be an exaggeration, but try getting a copy of Charles Dickens' Bleak House. It's long, it's boring, it's several hundred pages that described how "fashionable intelligence" is observed by the upper class in the eighteenth century, and how the judicial system affects every aspect of the lives
Well, it hasn't completely turned me into a Dickens fan, but it was wonderful. Bleak House is an entire world filled with the most vividly alive characters. He had me crying and laughing so often! Shall I ever forget poor Jo's last prayer or Mr. Guppy's proposals?

With all the humor and warmth and so many splendid scenes, I quite forgave Dickens his sometimes convoluted, long-winded style and overly complex plotting. I was sometimes put off by the Victorian indirectness (Why did Mr. Jardyce make
Christopher H.
"Bleak House" is clearly in my top four or five most favorite Dickens novels. It is dark and rich, and so completely immerses the reader in the characters and plotting. Somehow, I am most affected by Dickens' strong heroines; and Esther Summerson is just such a woman; even though she doesn't believe it of herself. The "Little Woman", "our dear Dame Durden", is such a kind-hearted and loving soul that you just can't bear to imagine anything untoward happening to her. The biting social satire that ...more
I think that we should all get down on our knees every day and thank God that Mr. Dickens wrote so many books and that they are so big.

There are many who say that Dickens portrays "caricatures" rather than characters. I disagree with this view. Dickens portrays persons who behave consistently with their personalities. This is, in my experience, true to life. Whether persons I know are loved or foolish, etc., they generally behave consistently in accordance with expectations. The same is true of
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  • The Way We Live Now
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A prolific 19th Century author of short stories, plays, novellas, novels, fiction and non-fiction; during his lifetime Dickens became known the world over for his remarkable characters, his mastery of prose in the telling of their lives, and his depictions of the social classes, morals and values of his times. Some considered him the spokesman for the poor, for he definitely brought much awarenes ...more
More about Charles Dickens...
A Tale of Two Cities Great Expectations A Christmas Carol Oliver Twist David Copperfield

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“And I am bored to death with it. Bored to death with this place, bored to death with my life, bored to death with myself.” 126 likes
“LONDON. Michaelmas Term lately over, and the Lord Chancellor sitting in Lincoln’s Inn Hall. Implacable November weather. As much mud in the streets as if the waters had but newly retired from the face of the earth, and it would not be wonderful to meet a Megalosaurus, forty feet long or so, waddling like an elephantine lizard up Holborn Hill. Smoke lowering down from chimney-pots, making a soft black drizzle, with flakes of soot in it as big as full-grown snow-flakes — gone into mourning, one might imagine, for the death of the sun. Dogs, undistinguishable in mire. Horses, scarcely better; splashed to their very blinkers. Foot passengers, jostling one another’s umbrellas in a general infection of ill-temper, and losing their foot-hold at street-corners, where tens of thousands of other foot passengers have been slipping and sliding since the day broke (if the day ever broke), adding new deposits to the crust upon crust of mud, sticking at those points tenaciously to the pavement, and accumulating at compound interest.

Fog everywhere. Fog up the river, where it flows among green aits and meadows; fog down the river, where it rolls defiled among the tiers of shipping and the waterside pollutions of a great (and dirty) city. Fog on the Essex marshes, fog on the Kentish heights. Fog creeping into the cabooses of collier-brigs; fog lying out on the yards, and hovering in the rigging of great ships; fog drooping on the gunwales of barges and small boats. Fog in the eyes and throats of ancient Greenwich pensioners, wheezing by the firesides of their wards; fog in the stem and bowl of the afternoon pipe of the wrathful skipper, down in his close cabin; fog cruelly pinching the toes and fingers of his shivering little ’prentice boy on deck. Chance people on the bridges peeping over the parapets into a nether sky of fog, with fog all round them, as if they were up in a balloon, and hanging in the misty clouds.

Gas looming through the fog in divers places in the streets, much as the sun may, from the spongey fields, be seen to loom by husbandman and ploughboy. Most of the shops lighted two hours before their time — as the gas seems to know, for it has a haggard and unwilling look.

The raw afternoon is rawest, and the dense fog is densest, and the muddy streets are muddiest near that leaden-headed old obstruction, appropriate ornament for the threshold of a leaden-headed old corporation, Temple Bar. And hard by Temple Bar, in Lincoln’s Inn Hall, at the very heart of the fog, sits the Lord High Chancellor in his High Court of Chancery.”
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