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Barnaby Rudge

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3.74 of 5 stars 3.74  ·  rating details  ·  5,074 ratings  ·  237 reviews
Written at a time of social unrest in Victorian Britain and set in London at the time of the anti-Catholic Gordon Riots, Dickens's brooding novel of mayhem and murder in the eighteenth century explores the relationship between repression and liberation in private and public life. Barnaby Rudge tells a story of individuals caught up in the mindless violence of the mob. Lord ...more
Paperback, 702 pages
Published July 24th 2003 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1841)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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MJ Nicholls
Is this the least-read Dickens novel? According to Goodreads, yes. Only 121 reviews on this one, with Martin Chuzzlewit a close second at 141. The reason? Lack of cinematic exposure hasn’t helped. Disney can’t turn an historical narrative about the Gordon Riots of 1780 into a feel-good schmaltz-fest, especially when the protagonist has the sinister talking raven that inspired Poe’s poem about a raven (I forget what it was called) as a best mate. A silent adaptation was made in 1915 (Crikey! Our ...more
Boz4pm
Jul 19, 2007 Boz4pm rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who loves a good tale well told
This was Dickens first historical novel - so it came before Tale of Two Cities - and is a cracking good read. Dickens, of course, is a consumate story-teller, but this piece is very finely crafted, with many layers and plots tightly woven together. It starts slow, but when you look back you realise that is by fore of necessity: the groundwork is needed for the plot to come, he needs to introduce the characters, set them in their place, and lay the foundations for their interactions with each oth ...more
Laurel Hicks
When a witless young man and his witty pet raven get swept into the furor of the Gordon "no-Popery" riots in the London of 1780, you can be sure you're reading Dickens. This is his first historical novel, and I can see how it leads the way to the other one, _A Tale of Two Cities_. Grip, the raven, caught the attention of Edgar Alan Poe and probably inspired his poem "The Raven." I suspect that _Barnaby Rudge_ also inspired Poe's "The Bells." This was my eighth Dickens novel this year. With only ...more
Thom Swennes
A most unlikely hero is introduced by Charles Dickens in his 1840 published historical novel Barnaby Rudge. Few authors have ever attempted to record the likes of Barnaby (two, however come to mind … John Steinbeck’s Lenny in Of Mice and Men and Winston Groom’s Forrest in Forrest Gump). Barnaby Rudge is a novel of epic proportions (920 pages). It loosely relates the actions occurring in the Gordon Riots of 1780. Barnaby is a trusting, simple-minded young man with a big heart that is talked into ...more
Laura
This is Dickens fifth novel and it was his first attempt to write an historical novel and was inspired by the Walter Scott's novels.

In the first chapters, Dickens describes the Maypole and introduces the main characters: Gabriel Varden with his wife and his daughter, Simon Tappertit, John and Joe Willet, Solomon Daisy, the Haredales, the Rudges and a mysterious stranger.

Maypole Inn in the village of Chigwell:



A hint of mystery is also inserted in these initial chapters through the Haredale murde
...more
Barry Pierce
Well this is a very different one. Dickens has decided to do a historical novel, meaning that some of the events of this novel actually happened in real life. The only problem is that the events that are covered in "Barnaby Rudge" really aren't that well known anymore. The novel takes place during the anti-Catholic Gordon Riots of 1780 (I mean everyone's heard of them right? Right? *crickets chirp*). There's basically a series of riots because the Protestants aren't happy (as always). The plot i ...more
Tony
BARNABY RUDGE, A Tale of the Riots of Eighty. (1841). Charles Dickens. **.
This is, without a doubt, one of the worst novels by Dickens that I have ever read. It was his first historical novel, and maybe he was just getting his feet wet, but the poor reader suffers all the same. Although it was meant to be in that genre, Dickens made sure that he got in a couple of star-crossed lovers to appeal to the ladies in his audience. It takes a long time for him to get started with his story. The first 15
...more
John
This is one of the two works of historical fiction by Dickens, the other being "A Tale of Two Cities," about the French revolution.
"Barnaby Rudge" is about the anti-Catholic Gordon riots in London in 1780.
I don't think Dickens was at his best in this genre.
The riots don't start until well after page 300, and it is at that point that the book becomes absorbing (although it ends slowly). It also contains more violence and cruelty than, I think, anything else by Dickens. What "Barnaby Rudge" illust
...more
Sylvester
Just loved this one. Dickens drops us right into the frenzied riot and drags us through it. Barnaby is a brilliant character - I love how Dickens pushes him in all his innocence right into the thick of the violence and sets his loyalty on one so unrepentantly destructive. A lot going on in this book that I won't touch on, but the way the two characters Barnaby and Hugh, polar opposites, (the one angry and manipulative, the other vulnerable and yet so full of light) are paired together is beautif ...more
Doogyjim
One of the last Dickens I'd still to read, it's easily better than The Old Curiosity Shop and (for my taste) Hard Times. It's got that wonderful mid-period Dickens feel when you can sense him plotting more carefully despite the apparent freewheeling nature of the narrative and he's not quite into the realms of characters being grotesque just for metaphorical ends.

Barnaby too is an unlikely hero and despite the Victorian penchant for sentimentalising, he's often frequently unlikeable. The scenes
...more
Matthew Conroy
Excellent! I really enjoyed this; I especially love Barnaby: I wish his character was even more prominent.

Very much plot, or even "action", oriented, and less character-oriented, than some other novels by Dickens. Certainly fewer minor characters.

It helped that I read this faster than perhaps any of his other novels (I've only three left!).
J.M. Hushour
A singularly terrible work that, if one didn't know it's author was Dickens, one would chalk up to some run-of-the-mill, flaccid 19th century chimney-licker. This should, perhaps, not have been so terribly shocking to me, coming as it does on the heels of Dickens' other dreadful "book","The Old Curiosity Shop, Or Rob Me of My Fleeting Life Essence, O Scandalously Bad Novel". I dare go so far as to say that Dickens' "middle" or "full frontal" period of the 1840s produced nothing but pure dreck. C ...more
Ben Dutton
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Susan
I’ve read this one twice before and always like it more than it deserves. It’s one of two historical novels by Dickens, a distinction many readers don’t make because all his novels have historical settings for us now. But A Tale of Two Cities (1859) and Barnaby Rudge were both set before Dickens’ own time and dealt with a similar subject, mob rule: Barnaby Rudge with the No Popery riots of 1780 and A Tale of Two Cities with the French Revolution.
I say I like Barnaby Rudge “more than it deserves”
...more
Stuart Ayris
For someone whose favourite literary period is the 19th Century, I have a confession to make. I am 43 years old (young!) and Barnaby Rudge is the first Charles Dickens novel I have ever been able to finish. I had previously made attempts on Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, Great Expectations and Hard Times and never got passed more than a couple of chapters in any one of them. Perhaps it was due to having hitherto had many great expectations and more than a few hard times? Who knows?!


When I saw
...more
K.
Jan 07, 2012 K. rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Dickens lovers, good book lovers
Recommended to K. by: Charles Dickens, he's my friend
Review of Barnaby Rudge; Read again (2nd time) Jan 2012

It’s been 10 years since I read this last. Either I have become a more discerning reader in that time, or the book got better. Which is more likely? Nevertheless, as usual, I’m nearly wordless with wonder…but of course only nearly, else this review would stop here.

If you know me (or my other Dickens reviews), you may already have an idea of my unabashed affection for Mr. Charles Dickens. I have never found him to disappoint, fail to enterta
...more
Courtney H.
After a series of lackluster reviews for other books, I'm glad to be back on solid ground with Dickens; and its all uphill in my reviews from here (climbing out of a review hole, as usual). I really liked Barnaby Rudge. A lot. I should preface this by saying that Dickens is my favorite author; even when he's mediocre, he is fabulous. And that's what this book is. It is very far removed from his best; and yet there are moments of brilliance, and there are moments of Dickens, and it was still, at ...more
Iowa City Public Library
For many years I’ve read a Charles Dickens novel every December, which often spills into January, as they’re often huge. (I sometimes bog down, and cleanse the palate with a contrasting flavor.) It was time to re-read Barnaby Rudge this year, probably Dickens’s second least successful effort. Nothing Dickens wrote is completely devoid of interest tho, and this has a few things going for it.

One of his two historical novels, Barnaby Rudge is largely about the anti-Catholic riots that shook London
...more
Tim
"Generally considered," used in the context of critical evaluation to label an author's work, can be a hindrance, a burden. "Barnaby Rudge" has worn that tag in the Charles Dickens canon for a long time: as in, generally considered the least-liked and, hence, the most neglected of the author's work. For me, that designation is unfortunate and, well, not accurate. Though it hardly can be lumped in with Dickens' very best work, the novel certainly is not my least favorite (that would be "The Old C ...more
Charles Matthews
It's easy to see why Barnaby Rudge is one of Dickens's less popular novels. It's overlong and overplotted, and it's awkwardly structured, falling too neatly into two halves. The first half centers on the frustrated love of Joe Willet for Dolly Varden, and the equally but differently frustrated love of Edward Chester and Emma Haredale, and on the murder of Emma's father. The second half focuses on the anti-Catholic Gordon riots of 1780. The two halves are knit together by the effects of the riots ...more
Duffy Pratt
As Dicken's goes, this was about the worst that I've read. I ended up caring about none of the "heroes,' and found myself rooting for a couple of the villains towards the end, because they were the only ones who were even remotely interesting. Lots of the main action, especially at the end, occurred offstage. We then heard about it in a second hand fashion and not in much detail.

Lots of people say that even the worst Dickens is great. I feel pretty much the opposite. Except for Great Expectation
...more
Mary
I am reading through all of Charles Dickens' novels, which is the only reason I read Barnaby Rudge. A historical novel about riots I had never even heard of--I thought I would hate it! I didn't have to read many pages to discover I was wrong. The first half of the book develops characters that are simply unforgettable. Their personal quirks and the situations they get themselves into are hilarious. I couldn't help howling with laughter, no matter where I was or who could hear me. The second half ...more
Jonathan
As Tale of Two Cities gave a street-level view of the French Revolution, Barnaby Rudge sheds light on London's "Gordon Riots." Lord George Gordon sought to overturn the Papists Act of 1778 (which restored many civil liberties to Catholics) by whipping the Protestant hoi polloi into a patriotic frenzy.
Mobs, led by miscreants with diverse personal motives, ran amok in London and its environs. This book follows characters with complex relationships to one another as they are caught up in the mayhem
...more
Carey Combe
Ok - to all you literary types out there. What marks out Dicken’s Barnabny Rudge and Tale of Two cities from all his other novels?
Valerie
The standard advice for readers of classics is to ignore the prefatory material when reading the book for the first time, and only read the introductions, prefaces, etc after the main text has been read.

In this case, I did do this. I do note one point: The precat on the back of the title page says that the illustrations of this edition were taken from the Oxford Illustrated Dickens edition, and were reprinted by permission of the Oxford University Press. Other comments about the prefatory and po
...more
Hal Brodsky
Charles Dickens's first historical novel explores the Gordon Riots of 1780.
To me Dickens begins the book as if he was Anthony Trollope with people traveling around, plotting, and talking to each other, but when the riots begin, watch out, the book becomes difficult to put down.
Like his other historical novel, "A Tale of Two Cities", "Barnaby Rudge" is not rich in memorable characters, but as there are a few (the bizarre hangman "Dennis" stands out from the crowd), I preferred this to his more
...more
Patrick
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Christine
Classic Serial on BBC

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b044ghp2

Dramatised by Mike Walker from Charles Dickens's novel set against the background of the anti-catholic riots of the 1780s.

1. When young Ned Chester is set upon by a highwaymen no-one thinks that his assailant might be connected to the violent murder of his beloved Emma's father, Reuben Haredale. The murderer that night, five years ago, was assumed to be William Rudge, who has disappeared without trace, leaving his wife and son Barnaby
...more
Don Friedman
I listened to this book in the car (I have a long commute), and thoroughly enjoyed it. The reader was terrific. I love reading Dickens, though sometimes it can be challenging to follow the CD version while driving! This had all the elements, a somewhat complicated and multi-stranded story, good characters who were the sweetest and most wonderful humans ever and villains who were the worst. It is a historical novel, weaving the Gordon Riots of the late 17th century into the story. It was interest ...more
Kimberlyn
Oct 12, 2014 Kimberlyn is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic
So then I remembered that I have to have the first 15 chapters of Barnaby Rudge read by the 18th. You cannot find copies of Barnaby Rudge in used book stores. That's because no one buys it. Even me. I have too many books on my shelves (this is only possible if living in a tiny space). So I am reading it online. It's in the public domain for free.

Barnaby Rudge: A Tale of the Riots of 'Eighty is one of Dickens's two historical novels (Tale of Two Cities being the well-known on). This one focuses
...more
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The Pickwick Club: Background, Resources, Reflexion upon the Novel as a Whole 5 31 May 25, 2014 03:31AM  
The Pickwick Club: Barnaby, Chapters 77 - 82 44 12 Apr 28, 2014 05:43PM  
The Pickwick Club: Barnaby, Chapters 66 - 70 117 18 Apr 28, 2014 03:17PM  
The Pickwick Club: Barnaby, Chapters 71 - 76 21 9 Apr 26, 2014 06:15PM  
The Pickwick Club: Barnaby, Chapters 41 - 45 80 19 Apr 24, 2014 09:29AM  
The Pickwick Club: Barnaby, Chapters 56 - 60 34 14 Apr 23, 2014 12:17PM  
The Pickwick Club: Barnaby, Chapters 61 - 65 17 10 Apr 19, 2014 12:55PM  
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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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“Time has been lost and opportunity thrown away, but I am yet a young man, and may retrieve it.” 8 likes
“…a lady of what is commonly called an uncertain temper
--a phrase which being interpreted signifies a temper tolerably certain to make
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