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Nicholas Nickleby

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  24,214 ratings  ·  796 reviews
'I shall never regret doing as I have—never, if I starve or beg in consequence'

When Nicholas Nickleby is left penniless after his father's death, he appeals to his wealthy uncle to help him find work and to protect his mother and sister. But Ralph Nickleby proves both hard-hearted and unscrupulous, and Nicholas finds himself forced to make his own way in the world. His ad
Paperback, 817 pages
Published September 25th 2003 by Penguin Classics (first published 1839)
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When the name of the cruel schoolmaster is Wackford Squeers you just know it's going to be good. Nicholas himself can sometimes be a bit prissy but this serves well as a foil for the many extreme characters that surround him (and he's a lot more feisty than the relatively milquetoast David Copperfield). This is classic Dickens at the height of his powers.

My generic comment about Charles Dickens:
First of all, although I am a partisan of Dickens' writing and have read and relished most his works,
Peter Ackroyd, in his ground-breaking biography of Charles Dickens, says that Nicholas Nickleby is "perhaps the funniest novel in the English language". The complete title of the novel is perhaps a bit of a mouthful,

"The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, containing a Faithful Account of the Fortunes, Misfortunes, Uprisings, Downfallings and Complete Career of the Nickleby Family".

It was published, as his previous novels had been, in monthly installments, between 1838 and 1839, and the la
MJ Nicholls
I have a titular affinity with this novel since it incorporates many common misspellings of my surname: Nicols, Nichols, Nickles, Nicholas, Nicolls and (once) Amber Juliana Swami. Dickens’s third novel unites the comedic episodes of The Pickwick Papers with the melodramatic realism of Oliver Twist in a brilliant 832-page (OWC edition) adventure filled with more manipulative drama than Lot 45 on Hollywood Studios (known as the Robin Williams Crap Mound). Unlike the aforesaid former comic actor’s ...more
Barry Pierce
One common criticism of The Pickwick Papers is that it has no plot. This novel is the antithesis of Pickwick, it has too much plot. At 1020 pages in length this is the largest book that I have ever read, and it really felt like it.

Dickens is the master of setting and characterisation. However, sometimes he can get so caught up in describing the mood and the presence of a location that half the chapter is gone before any dialogue is even uttered.

This novel contains, in my opinion, one of Dicken
"In short, the poor Nicklebys were social and happy; while the rich Nickleby was alone and miserable."

The contrast between rich and poor, happy and miserable, greed and contentment, have always been key parts of all Dickens' works. Nicholas Nickleby is no exception to this rule in how Dickens sets up the titular hero as the originally poor, yet noble, character and the other men around him as scheming misers.

The plot essentially follows the Nickleby family, left without a father and with Nichola
When I first went to the UK and was doing my version of A Tour Round the Whole Island of Great Britain, which involved many hours alone on British Rail and in B&Bs, this was the only book I took with me - and it was the only one I needed. Because of their length, you could probably say the same about any of Dickens' novels, but somehow this story of two young people going out for the first time to travel through the world on their own (albeit by necessity and not by choice) and meeting all k ...more
I'm not faulting Dickens for my tepid enjoyment of this. The BBC version starring James D'Arcy is absolutely marvelous and had me itching to read the source material. I'm sure it's just as great (if long-winded in spots, as Dickens is wont to do).

However, as happens all too often, the audiobook narrator sucked ass. Robert Whitfield? You, sir, ran the gamut of voices from A to B. Okay, maybe C. Sometimes.

(This review was fully intended to have GIFs of said James D'Arcy version, but the only ones
Holy crap, if I had known how funny Dickens is, I wouldn't have put off reading him for so long. Now, I'm not sure why I did.

While I read that Nicholas Nickleby isn't Dickens' best or most-respected work, I enjoyed the dickens out of it (sorry). Farcical melodrama at it's most amusing, I say. Sure, the characters are pretty cliche, aptonymical caricatures of various personality traits writ large, but who is better at rendering human motivations and clothing them in astonishingly recognizable por
Wackford Squeers!

The aforementioned schoolmaster is probably the most famous character (with the obvious exception of Nicholas himself) in Dickens’ third novel. Indeed, in my memory of this book – which I last read some fifteen years ago – Wackford Squeers featured as one of the dominant figures. And that’s somewhat odd as he is not the major villain of the piece, he is merely one of a gallery of grotesque rogues the Nickleby children encounter. So why does he linger so long in the mind? I think
Paul Brogan
It was with some difficulty and not a little despair and disappointment that I struggled through the first few pages of Nicholas Nickleby. It's David Copperfield in disguise, I thought; oh, no, not another commentary on how unfair life is, I reflected further; and there Dickens goes again with his one-dimensional women, in their fainting swoons, righteous indignation, and sheer bitchery.

A few pages further, and I was into the story and read it with some enjoyment to the end, where everyone gets
Ayu Palar
Jun 21, 2009 Ayu Palar rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Sherien Sabbah, Boof, Sandybanks
Shelves: classics, dickens
The first Dickens I read. I wanted to read Nicholas Nickleby so much since I love the adaptation starring the ever so gorgeous Charlie Hunnam as Nicholas. Compared to other Dickens that I have read, Nicholas Nickleby is lighter. Basically, it tells Nicholas’ journey to reach success. Not only that, he also reveals some dark secrets of his family. I enjoyed this a lot, due to the fact that when reading it, I always imagined Mr. Hunnam’s face *ehm*.

The characters are also remarkable. Our hero Nic
Loved it! This is the light, breezy, humorous, cheery side of Dickens. He must have written this through a good, happy period of his life.
Nicholas Nickleby contains Dickens’ signature purely evil people and purely pure people, his incredibly described people and situations. It also is chockfull of humorous paragraphs, descriptions, situations and quippy one-liners. Wonderful, entertaining reading with a great story, lots of twists, turns and surprises.
Christopher H.
I stayed up late to finish this novel, and it was well worth the lack of sleep! Nicholas Nickleby is an engrossing and exciting read; full of some perfectly nasty, evil, and some very good-hearted characters. Also, I have to say that I had no idea that the conditions at the so-called "Yorkshire schools" were so incredibly deplorable. Yet for every moment of 'doom and gloom' in the novel, Dickens comes right back with the 'bright light' and 'flowers' of the better side of humanity.

The novel is fa
Wackford Squeers and Ralph Nickelby, together make Bill Sikes look very common in his (Sikes) evil ways. I thought I had experienced an extreme Dickens character in Bill Sikes from Twist, but the sheer pseudo-intellectualism coupled with brute dishonesty of Squeers and the cold, calculating avarice of Ralph push Sikes into a byword of bad deeds. Again, Dickens crafts wonderfully rich and diverse character, though mostly male(which male characters are developed in more detail). Understanding that ...more
I couldn't quite bring myself to give just one star to a master of English fiction, but honestly, this book is Dickens at his worst: maudlin, melodramatic, and almost pathological in its hysterical demonization of the villains. Dickens here caters shamelessly to the sentimentalities, moral simplicities, and stereotypes of his readership. The good characters are gooily good, the bad ones lack not only any redeeming feature but any plausible motivation, and we are encouraged to relish their downfa ...more
Apr 26, 2014 K. rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Dickens lovers, not necessarily noviates
“Don’t you just love starting a book this big, knowing you’ll have such a long time to spend in a new and delightful world?” From the sticky note I put on the cover of my son’s copy of Nicholas Nickleby before placing it on his TBR pile. The bigger the book the better (in many cases), I say.

2014 Dickens project reread.

While it’s true that Nicholas Nickleby hasn’t descended through time as Dickens’ best book, quite possibly it is known as his most humorous. I’m not the first to observe this, no
Say What You Like, this Nick's a Dick

Dickens was only 26 when he started writing Nicholas Nickelby - and it bloody shows.

After the knockabout good-natured comedy of The Pickwick Papers and the rage-driven sucker-punch of Oliver Twist, the prolific young writer had built up a head of hyperactive steam and really had the bit between his teeth for this one. He hadn't even finished Oliver Twist before he launched into writing this. It's a rags-to-riches story of a young middle-class gent and his mis
Avi Gvili
The day I finished reading Great Expectations, I made a promise to myself that I would read every book ever written By Charles Dickens. I'm glad to say that fulfilling this promise is one of the best journeys I have ever taken.

Dickens is simply a giant among writers, immortal as long as the written word is valued. It was hearing Eli Siegel's lecture, THE TRIAL OF MR. PICKWICK: A consideration of Chapter 33 of Charles Dickens' Pickwick Papers, at the Aesthetic Realism Foundation in Soho, NY, that
Wow, what a trial. I loved Great Expectations, I tolerated Oliver Twist, but Nicholas Nickleby was a bear to get through. I bought the book years ago in error, thinking it was on a college course reading list. This book sat on my shelf until I finally decided to take a crack at it last fall. After about 200 pages, I put it down and it just kind of sat there. Then I decided to download a pdf copy from google books in an effort to read a little bit each day at work on my lunch break. Didn’t enjoy ...more
Elder Prince *Writing my next Novella*
It's not a secret (at least, to anyone knowing me), I've been a devout reader of Dickens throughout my life, notably for his great work of social commentary.

Nicholas Nickleby is such an inspiring character. His courage, unerring loyalty and faultless goodness always help him push through his many trials while supporting his friends. The same cannot be said about his uncle, though. Ralph Nickleby, the main antagonist, lives for money and will let nothing- including his own relatives -stand in the
This is my favorite Dickens. It is witty and sarcastic, and I love his sense of humor. It is very long, and you are making a real commitment when you begin it. Also, the language can be hard to get in to, but it gets better over time. When I finished this book, I was ready to pick it right back up and start over!
The two main characters (Nick and Ralph) are like the two sides of the same coin – both Nickleby men, but a few pages into the story we see that this remains the only thing in common (though at some point you may expect that Kate, Nick’s sister might build a bridge between them) and the one is the opposite to the other. Nick’s young, unexperienced in life, a little bit naïve and with a feeling of deep and dear attachment to his family; Ralph’s old, crafty, calculating and only cares for his mone ...more
This novel is a feast of assorted delights and from start to finish, offers the reader a rollicking good time. It has much more buoyancy than many of his other novels, possibly because Dickens felt greater optimism about society’s capacity to address the social ills he explored in the novel, relative to those illumined in others such as Bleak House. Nicholas Nickleby offers a protagonist whose good heart is almost matched by his heedlessness of any dangers to himself as he impetuously battles a ...more
Anna Bear
I actually listened to the BBC read version of this book while I was sick a couple of weeks ago. Although there is nothing quite like the feel and companionship of a physical book, in this case I have to say that nothing showcases Dickens like the audio version. BBC Radio 4 has an extensive selection of Dickens novels dramatized. They are so fantastic because they really capture the period with all the accompanying sound effects. If the text says that the Nicklebys were having tea, you'll hear t ...more
Stuart Ayris
Nicholas Nickleby was serialised between 1838 and 1839. It is almost 900 pages long and comprises 65 chapters. Charles Dickens was 26 years old when it was released - his third novel, following on from The Pickwick Papers and Oliver Twist. One further statistic of note is that the bus ride from Tollesbury to Maldon that I undertake each day for work lasts almost exactly a Nicholas Nickleby chapter. As such, given that it was originally published as a long running serial, I feel that little bus j ...more
Simon Mcleish
Originally published on my blog here in October 2000.

One of the most successful of all Dickens' early novels, Nicholas Nickleby will always be remembered for its portrayal of the wonderfully named brutal school, Dotheboys Hall. The plot of the novel is a variation of the young man coming to terms with the world theme. After his father's death, Nicholas Nickleby and his sister Kate need to earn their livings for the first time. They turn to their rich uncle Ralph for help, not realising that he i
Angela Young
So often there's a particular scene or series of scenes from a book that stay with me and the ones from Nicholas Nickleby are the early ones between him and Smike. On page 97 of this edition Nickleby sees Smike on his knees before the stove. Smike shrinks back expecting a blow but Nickleby says, 'You need not fear me ... are you cold?' Smike says he's not cold but Nickleby can see he's shivering. He thinks, 'There was such an obvious fear of giving offence in his manner, and he was such a timid, ...more
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“[… I]t will be our aim to amuse, by producing a rapid succession of characters and incidents, and describing them as cheerfully and pleasantly as in us lies […]”

Thus it reads in the so-called Nickleby Proclamation, which was supposed to assure readers that their beloved Boz would once again treat them to a feast of Pickwickian antics and Twistish melodrama.

Strike the iron while it’s still hot!

The energetic young Dickens, probably overwhelmed with the success of his Sketches and his first two no
Jill Bonsteel
I just finished Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens. Wow, what an emotionally draining but compelling piece. I loved it because even though it is filled with SO much tragedy, Love and Kindness win in the end.

This book reminds all of us, that money doesn’t equate to happiness and that it is our relationships that matter at the end of the day. It also reminds us of the law of reciprocity; what goes around comes around. Though we cannot always know the effects of our actions we can be certain tha
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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
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A Tale of Two Cities Great Expectations A Christmas Carol Oliver Twist David Copperfield

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