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The Pickwick Papers

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Few first novels have created as much popular excitement as The Pickwick Papers–-a comic masterpiece that catapulted its 24-year-old author to immediate fame. Readers were captivated by the adventures of the poet Snodgrass, the lover Tupman, the sportsman Winkle &, above all, by that quintessentially English Quixote, Mr Pickwick, & his cockney Sancho Panza, Sam Weller. From the hallowed turf of Dingley Dell Cricket Club to the unholy fracas of the Eatanswill election, via the Fleet debtor’s prison, characters & incidents sprang to life from Dickens’s pen, to form an enduringly popular work of ebullient humour & literary invention.

801 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1837

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About the author

Charles Dickens

14.9k books27.2k followers
Charles John Huffam Dickens (1812-1870) was a writer and social critic who created some of the world's best-known fictional characters and is regarded as the greatest novelist of the Victorian era. His works enjoyed unprecedented popularity during his lifetime, and by the twentieth century critics and scholars had recognised him as a literary genius. His novels and short stories enjoy lasting popularity.

Dickens left school to work in a factory when his father was incarcerated in a debtors' prison. Despite his lack of formal education, he edited a weekly journal for 20 years, wrote 15 novels, five novellas, hundreds of short stories and non-fiction articles, lectured and performed extensively, was an indefatigable letter writer, and campaigned vigorously for children's rights, education, and other social reforms.

Dickens was regarded as the literary colossus of his age. His 1843 novella, A Christmas Carol, remains popular and continues to inspire adaptations in every artistic genre. Oliver Twist and Great Expectations are also frequently adapted, and, like many of his novels, evoke images of early Victorian London. His 1859 novel, A Tale of Two Cities, set in London and Paris, is his best-known work of historical fiction. Dickens's creative genius has been praised by fellow writers—from Leo Tolstoy to George Orwell and G. K. Chesterton—for its realism, comedy, prose style, unique characterisations, and social criticism. On the other hand, Oscar Wilde, Henry James, and Virginia Woolf complained of a lack of psychological depth, loose writing, and a vein of saccharine sentimentalism. The term Dickensian is used to describe something that is reminiscent of Dickens and his writings, such as poor social conditions or comically repulsive characters.

On 8 June 1870, Dickens suffered another stroke at his home after a full day's work on Edwin Drood. He never regained consciousness, and the next day he died at Gad's Hill Place. Contrary to his wish to be buried at Rochester Cathedral "in an inexpensive, unostentatious, and strictly private manner," he was laid to rest in the Poets' Corner of Westminster Abbey. A printed epitaph circulated at the time of the funeral reads: "To the Memory of Charles Dickens (England's most popular author) who died at his residence, Higham, near Rochester, Kent, 9 June 1870, aged 58 years. He was a sympathiser with the poor, the suffering, and the oppressed; and by his death, one of England's greatest writers is lost to the world." His last words were: "On the ground", in response to his sister-in-law Georgina's request that he lie down.

(from Wikipedia)

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,140 reviews
Profile Image for Vit Babenco.
1,423 reviews3,375 followers
November 13, 2020
The Pickwick Papers was the first novel by Charles Dickens but I’ve read it last. I was always afraid to start but once I did it proved to be a real pageturner for me.
There sat the man who had traced to their source the mighty ponds of Hampstead, and agitated the scientific world with his Theory of Tittlebats, as calm and unmoved as the deep waters of the one on a frosty day, or as a solitary specimen of the other in the inmost recesses of an earthen jar.

The peculiar and effervescent sense of humour is inimitable and the language is like the vintage wine.
And I was surprised to find out that quite a few of the inns the clubmen stayed in are still functioning.
Profile Image for Bionic Jean.
1,227 reviews1,062 followers
May 24, 2023
Have you read The Pickwick Papers? It does seem to be the one work by Charles Dickens which is sadly neglected by many readers.

"The Pickwick Papers" was originally published in 19 monthly magazine instalments, from March 1836 to October 1837, this last being a double issue. They were then reissued in a volume as The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club in 1839 when Dickens was still only 25. They comprise humorous sketches, themselves interspersed with incidental tales, such as "The Goblins who stole a Sexton" told by minor characters.

This is where the young Charles Dickens began to cut his teeth as a writer. Dickens at the time was relatively unknown and quite poor. He was 23, and had just written various sketches about London life for magazines. The publishers Chapman and Hall asked him to write pieces in a similar vein to accompany some plates by Robert Seymour, an established illustrator. These plates were of bumbling members of a sporting club getting themselves into various predicaments. Dickens's brief was to connect them by providing a comic story, and the two parts would then form a "picture novel" - a popular entertainment of the time.

Dickens was quite excited by the idea, but straightaway started to alter the plan. In his own words, he

"objected... that it would be infinitely better for the plates to arise naturally out of the text; and that I would like to take my own way, with a freer range of English scenes and people, and was afraid I should ultimately do so in any case, whatever course I might prescribe to myself at starting."

One can only imagine how presumptuous this must have sounded! Seymour was 38 years old and had already illustrated the works of Shakespeare, Milton, Cervantes and Wordsworth. He was a talented artist who had been exhibited at the Royal Academy over a decade earlier when he was just 24. He was on his way to becoming the President of the Royal Academy, and thought to be one of the greatest artists since Hogarth. Despite all this, Dickens got his way, and led the episodes by the story. He evidently must have a been a charismatic and forceful character even at this young age!

Now of course we know the true extent of the brilliance of the man. Ironically and tragically Seymour committed suicide before the second issue of "The Pickwick Papers" was published. He had a few drinks with Dickens, delivered his latest sketch of "The Dying Clown" to the publishers, then went home and shot himself. There is a fascinating back-story attached to this… but this is not the place to tell it.

Robert Buss was then commissioned to illustrate the third instalment, but his work was not liked by Dickens and the remaining instalments were illustrated by Hablot Knight Browne who took the name "Phiz". This was to accompany the penname Dickens had already made his own, "Boz". Hablot Knight Browne went on to illustrate most of Dickens' novels.

The main characters in "Pickwick" are Mr. Samuel Pickwick himself, "a gentleman of independent means; a retired man of business." He is accompanied by the "too susceptible" Mr. Tracy Tupman, also mature in years, but inclined to fall in love at the drop of a hat. The other two members of the travelling party are younger; "the sporting" Mr. Nathaniel Winkle and "the poetic" Mr. Augustus Snodgrass. Their aim is to travel throughout the English countryside researching "the quaint and curious phenomena of life". They are to report back at intervals on "authenticated accounts of their journeys and investigations; of their observations of character and manners; and of the whole of their adventures", to the club's headquarters in London. They stay at coaching inns, and their adventures as they travel by coach through London, Rochester, Ipswich, Bath, Bristol and Birmingham form the basis of this rollicking ride.

Satire and farce continue to underpin the whole of the narrative, as the bumbling quartet become embroiled in ever more ludicrous situations. The confidence trickster Alfred Jingle appeared in the very first issue. He repeatedly landed the Pickwickians in trouble with his devious tricks, and whenever he pops up in the narrative the reader knows they are in for a particularly droll episode. In the fourth issue, (or chapter 10) the astute and wily cockney Sam Weller is introduced, to be taken on as Pickwick's servant. He provides a delightful counterpart to Pickwick's idealistic naivety.

There about a dozen other important minor characters, and literally hundreds more comic cameos scattered throughout the book. This is no exaggeration, incidentally. The book has 57 chapters, and there are maybe 5-10 of these cameos in each; delightful thumbnail sketches of characters with exaggerated personality traits. It would indeed be a lengthy exercise to detail all these numerous comic characters and situations! The Pickwick Papers is by definition episodic; a linked sequence of events. If anything it is character-heavy and in danger of sinking under their weight. And given such a dodgy start to the enterprise, it is surprising that the whole can still be read and enjoyed by the modern reader.

Each of the 19 issues contains either 2 or 3 chapters, and it must have been incredibly frustrating for Dickens, that he could neither rewrite nor withdraw any part of them. This was however the regime and pressure that he had to work under for most of his life. Each chapter is headed by a description of the following events. Typically though, in what was to become a favourite style of Dickens, this is written so obliquely that the reader is not entirely sure what is actually going to happen even then.

In addition to this workload, from February 1837 onwards, Dickens was also producing monthly episodes of "Oliver Twist" at the same time! Whenever the reader feels that the action is sagging a little, or that Dickens' writing is becoming a little overblown, it is as well to remember the constraints of producing work at such breakneck speed, without any possibility of editing. It would be most unfair to judge it by comparison with other novels of the time - or even Dickens' own future novels - as this is not how it was conceived.

Chapman and Hall printed only 1000 copies of the first monthly instalment, but by the end of the serial 40,000 copies were being printed. As soon as the character of Sam Weller was introduced, sales began to pick up, and he became enormously popular with the reading public. So much so, that his image was popular outside the stories themselves, much as Pickwick himself is for present day readers. For which of us now is not familiar with an image of Pickwick, on everything from Christmas cards to tins of biscuits?

Dickens is often criticised for his "inaccurate" rendering of the cockney accent, and Sam Weller's verancular and that of his father is probably the first time we see this. But read this exchange during a trial,

"Do you spell it with a 'V' or a 'W'?" enquired the Judge. "That depends upon the taste and fancy of the speller my lord," replied Sam. "I never had occasion to spell it more than once or twice in my life, but I spells it with a 'V'."

Or later, when Mr Weller senior is sorting out probate and dealing with the bank after a will. He is instructed to wait at "a part of the counter above which was a round black board with a large 'W' on it" - the initial letter of the deceased. He says, "There's somethin' wrong here. We's our letter - this won't do."

On both these occasions the confusions between the two letters is used to increase the comic effect. I personally think Dickens knew exactly what he was doing. He was well enough acquainted with all walks of life in London not make a "mistake"!

The Pickwick Papers in serial form were published at a very eventful period of Dickens' life. During the month issue 2 was published, not only did the illustrator Seymour commit suicide, as mentioned, but Dickens himself married Catherine Hogarth. For issue 11, his first son Charley was born, issue 12 came at the same time as the first instalment of "Oliver Twist" (again in serial form). For issue 13 the couple moved house to Doughty Street, and during April when issue 14 was out, Catherine's sister (with whom it is fairly sure Dickens was in love) died. With this whirlwind of a year Dickens had set a precedent for the way he would live his life. He was a writing phenomenon; a true workaholic. Between his writing and his performances on stage, he eventually worked himself to death.

What's more, the basis for his work is all here in "The Pickwick Papers". The love of caricature and the grotesque, the drama and the humour, the sentimentality and the pathos. There is also the social conscience, the indignant portrayal of the absurdity and corruption not only of individuals, but of the machinery held in such esteem by civilised democratic societies. Dickens is never afraid to poke fun at anything, however august and "honourable" the person or the institution.

Lawyers, politicians and even some churchmen are portrayed either as pompous figures of ridicule or unscrupulous charlatans. Medical men are "sawbones" who use "secondhand leeches", new "men of science" are gullible fools. The debtors' prison is jampacked with people who have ended up there through no fault of their own, and have no prospect of ever getting out. The beloved "Artful Dodger" of "Oliver Twist" is here in embryonic form, as Sam Weller. Dickens' passion for justice, for seeing everything in its true colours and laughing at it, is here already, and I love him for it. His talent is ripe and just waiting to be developed into some of the greatest novels in the English Language. All this, from an author in his early twenties.

For those who think my star rating is generous, that this is one of his weaker "novels", I would say just look at some extracts. Read the episode about the "refractory mare." Or Pickwick's trial. Or the incident with the "lady in yellow curl papers." Or account of the Pickwickians slithering about on the ice. His style for writing farce is already perfect; it could not be improved. Yes, the structure is loose and "The Pickwick Papers" is overlong. The first part of this review explains why.

But reading through "The Pickwick Papers" in its entirety provides us with a unique opportunity to follow a piece of history. It started as a minor piece by a relatively unknown young writer, yet in some ways it can be seen as the chronicle of his journey. By the end "The Pickwick Papers" was a huge success, both the work and its author taking Britain by storm. Dickens's life would never be the same again; he achieved celebrity status with this work. Agreed, it is a lesser work compared with the whole canon. But if you have already enjoyed reading any Dickens, then please do not miss out on the true gems in this remarkable collection.
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,566 reviews56.5k followers
September 18, 2021
The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club = The Pickwick Papers, Charles Dickens

The Pickwick Papers was Charles Dickens's first novel. He was asked to contribute to the project as an up-and-coming writer following the success of Sketches by Boz, published in 1836.

The novel's main character, Samuel Pickwick, Esquire, is a kind and wealthy old gentleman, the founder and perpetual president of the Pickwick Club.

To extend his researches into the quaint and curious phenomena of life, he suggests that he and three other "Pickwickians" (Mr Nathaniel Winkle, Mr Augustus Snodgrass, and Mr Tracy Tupman) should make journeys to places remote from London and report on their findings to the other members of the club.

Their travels throughout the English countryside by coach provide the chief theme of the novel.

A distinctive and valuable feature of the work is the generally accurate description of the old coaching inns of England. (One of the main families running the Bristol to Bath coaches at the time was started by Eleazer Pickwick).

عنوانهای چاپ شده در ایران: «ماجراهای آقای پیک ویک»؛ «یادداشتهای پیک ویک»؛ «یادداشتهای آقای پیک ویک»؛ نویسنده: چارلز دیکنز؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش روز پانزدهم ماه ژوئن سال 1987میلادی

عنوان: ماجراهای آقای پیک ویک؛ مترجم: محمدتقی دانیا؛ انتشارات فخر رازی؛ 1364؛ در 436ص؛ موضوع داستانهای کلاسیک از نویسندگان بریتانیا - سده 19م

عنوان: یادداشتهای پیک ویک؛ مترجم: پرویز همتیان بروجنی؛ تهران، نشر چشمه، 1394؛ در دو جلد؛ شابک دوره 9786002295095؛ شابک جلد یک 9786002295101؛ شابک جلد دو 9786002295118؛

عنوان: یادداشتهای آقای پیک ویک؛ مترجم: آرمانوش باباخانیانس؛ تهران، اکباتان، 1396، در 192ص؛ شابک 9786006608587؛

آقای «پیک ویک»، نجیب زاده ی پولداری ست، که اهل پژوهش است، و باشگاهی دارد، که اعضای باشگاه باهم دوست هستند، و ماجراهای گوناگون میآفرینند که تا اندازه ای خنده دار است؛ ماجراها: «خرابکاری در مهمانی»، «حاضر شدن در دادگاه» و ....؛ «رخدادها برای چند دوست با اخلاقهای ویژه»؛ ...؛ «یادداشت‌های پیک ویک» را «چالز دیکنز» در بیست و چهار سالگی بنگاشتند، و نخستین اثر داستانی ایشان نیز به شمار است؛ ایشان پیش از این، مجموعه ای از یادداشتهای روزنامه نگاری خود را، که رنگ و بوی روایی نیز داشتند، در روزنامه ها منتشر کرده بودن��؛ پیروز همین یادداشتها، موجب شد، ناشر پیشنهاد نوشتن داستانی دنباله دار را به «دیکنز» بدهند، که حاصل آن، «یادداشتهای پیک ویک» شد؛ «یادداشتهای پیک ویک» چنان خوشآیند «داستایفسکی» شد، که به گویش خود ایشان، شخصیت اصلی رمان «ابله» را، با الهام و تاثیر پذیری از آقای «پیک ویک»، و «دن کیشوت»، شکل میدهند

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 08/08/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 26/06/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Always Pouting.
568 reviews714 followers
June 22, 2017
Oh god this was such a long read, the problem is I didn't realize going into it that Charles Dickens originally published this as a series over time and so I read the whole freaking thing at once and honestly there's only so much of this one can read at once and still enjoy. The writing itself was really good and Dickens is really witty. I found all of it really funny and amusing and I see why people would have liked it. I don't think I myself could enjoy it as much because it just felt like a TV show where you tune in every other week or something to see what your favorite characters are doing, and one of those sitcoms where it's really just a way to fill time. The Pickwick club just seems to drink and listen to stories or get into trouble that's the whole plot for I think 900 pages. It gets old really quick and it's not what I read for so like it didn't do anything for me. I think if I didn't have TV or comics it would have appealed to me much more. I did really enjoy Joe though because he's just fat and sleeps constantly and causes trouble which is great. The first thing that happens with Mr.Jingle, originally before he takes off, was pretty intriguing also. The rest of it barely kept my attention. I really want to like Dickens but so far I can't say I do very much.
Profile Image for Lisa.
977 reviews3,327 followers
November 13, 2020
Same procedure as last year, Mr Dickens?

Same procedure as every year, My Dear Reader!

Well, then. I officially declare the December Dickens challenge completed, and according to tradition, The Most Recently Read Dickens knocks the Previous Favourite off the pedestal.

As always, the Dickensian spirit manifests itself mainly in the minor characters and the villains. I would give my soul (to the care of a trustworthy person of Mr Pickwick's calibre, under no circumstances to lawyers like Dodson and Fogg!) to listen in on some additional conversations between Samivel Veller and his dear father, the hater of vidders and lover of a proper eddication. If the Wellers add colour, heart and soul to the picaresque adventures of the Pickwick Clubbers, Mr Jingle and Mr Trotter are their perfectly drawn antitheses, as is the dear Mrs Bardell, whose real fainting in the debtor's prison showed that a well orchestrated fake fainting has a tendency to be much more useful and effective than the feeble original.

Mr Pickwick himself is a descendant of the great Don Quixote, and the windmills of Chancery are harder to fight than most dragons, and they clearly demand a sequel - which promises to be a bleak story.

Sam Weller is outperforming Sancho Pansa in wit and energy, and most definitely is his equal in loyalty and love.

What more can be said that hasn't been said a thousand times before, regarding Charles Dickens' unique universe? What can be added except the inevitable Oliver Twist quote: "Please Sir, I want some more", expecting a rich literary meal rather than a thin gruel, no matter which novel will knock this one off the favourite place next year?

I could join Fernando Pessoa, claiming one of the great tragedies of my life now being that I can never again enjoy the pleasure of reading the Pickwick Papers for the very first time. But that will never do! Another Dickens is safely stored in my inner treasure chest where the reading pleasures of Christmasses past are located.

To the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come! Some more!
Profile Image for Baba.
3,559 reviews853 followers
June 10, 2022
The well penned chronicles of the members of the Pickwick Club… a steady stream of comedy, intrigue, dalliances, crime, debtors prisons and love… a truly astounding feat for a first novel, but Charles Dickens did go on to write so much more, so just a Three Star read for me. 5 out of 12. I was probably disadvantaged having read the likes of Little Dorrit and Nicholas Nickleby amongst others, in the weeks prior to reading this.
2009 read
Profile Image for Darwin8u.
1,559 reviews8,686 followers
October 30, 2016
“what was over couldn't be begun, and what couldn't be cured must be endured;”
― Charles Dickens, The Pickwick Papers


This book morphed a couple times in my brain. It started off a bit uneven, filled with vignettes and sketches that seemed to anticipate the later genius of Dickens and even presented several shadows of future books and stories. After 100 pages I figured I would have another 700 pages of various Pickwick club digressions. There would be interesting characters (Sam Weller, Alfred Jingle, etc).

The narrative started to bog down, however, during the next couple hundred pages. The book had little velocity and the digressions seemed to have stalled, but then something happened. Dickens absolutely found his genius. It is interesting to behold a great author find his voice. I'm not just talking about any author or any voice. It is amazing to see Dickens find that genius balance between characters, plot, social commentary/satire, and humor. It was like watching a bird hatch, a butterfly emerge from its chrysalis. More than the story, which ended very well, the book is worth the effort for what it shows about Dickens. This isn't the first Dickens I'd read, but after you've read a bunch of Dickens, I'd definitely read this just to soak in Dickens growth and his views on friendship, marriage, lawyers, and debt.
Profile Image for Luís.
1,858 reviews511 followers
July 20, 2022
Mr Pickwick is a philosopher. This fact is what Dickens calls him, who seems to imprint his thought on the philosopher's actions.
He attacked several institutions or customs of England in the 1830s in this book of "gentlemen" (esquires).

- It is a concrete indictment against the prisons for English debts, although one can circulate freely with woman and child. But wealthy prisoners are well off, and the poor can starve without mercy.
In Volume III, Dickens also shows the advantage of forgiveness and the philosopher's help over Miss Bardell over blind vengeance.
- Finally, he shows Winkle, an uncompromising father, that marriages of love, even with little money, bring more happiness to everyone than arranged marriages at that time.

But there are some earthy passages, such as a Paris duel, which, as we know, the English are fond of;
one will also notice the versatility towards "the good side" of the characters when, on many occasions of annoyance, the gentlemen who respect themselves must avoid the worst: it generally ends in an invitation to drink, in the joy and good humour!
I want to point out Sam's character, Pickwick's servant, who has a great personality, a lot of humour and a great bond with his coachman father and his master Pickwick.
Finally, there are the Pickwickians, young men a little lost that our philosopher protects. This one is delighted when they manage to fly off on their own.
I found volume III much more lively and enjoyable because Dickens has finally found his "cruising speed"!
Profile Image for Carolyn Marie  Castagna.
274 reviews5,759 followers
March 29, 2021
Oh Dickens!

Reading this book was quite the journey! There were moments when I loved it, and there were moments when I didn't.
It was a joy to see the charm of Dickens take shape in this book. His humor was wonderful as expected, and his ability to create unique caricatures was utterly charming!
Although this book didn't have much of a plot, it was very fun to watch all of the different adventures and misadventures unfold.
Since this book was originally serialized, it felt very episodical. At certain points this type of storytelling was exciting and fun, but overall I was missing the structure of one solid plot line.
I feel that the best way to read this book is as if it was in fact a periodical. I think my own enjoyment would have been much greater if I read it that way. Dickens didn't intend for this story to be read as a novel, so I do acknowledge that.
My biggest gripe with this book is that it is VERY (white) male-centric. The women don't really do much except faint, cry, or "become hysterical." They honestly felt like silly objects for the men to have very minor interactions with. This is a common occurrence when reading classics written by men, which is a sad truth. The good thing is that there are many "classic" male authors who do great justice to their female characters. Dickens in-fact created some of the most iconic and complex female characters in literary history, such as Miss Havisham and Estella.

All in all, it was wonderful to read Dickens' first "novel," but I wouldn't recommend starting with The Pickwick Papers if you're new to Dickens.

I can't wait to fully discuss The Pickwick Papers with Emma during our second Dickens vs. Tolstoy debate! The live show will be on Emma's (@emmie) channel on April 3rd at 2pm EST! SO EXCITED!
Profile Image for MJ Nicholls.
2,022 reviews4,067 followers
March 8, 2012
The middle classes in this country still aspire to some half-baked bucolic idyll—renting a farmhouse, living off the land, swinging on a hammock reading Balzac while buxom farmlasses frolic in the Devonshire sun. The reality? The work involved in milking cows, shearing sheep, fattening chickens requires the brawny pluck of a youngster, not the snoozy disregard of the doddery, and those farmhouse repairs won’t repair themselves, those bills won’t pay themselves . . . until the call of the one-bedroom flat in the city becomes impossible to ignore. Unless you’re rich enough to hire lackeys, in which case, the vida loca awaits! This is a rambling and rambunctious comedic debut from the soon-to-be Bard of Blighty, rich in top-flight farce, whip-smart satire, and politely scabrous social comment. All very tame and steeped in the Fielding and Smollett tradition, but absolutely engaging from page one to page seven-and-twenty (depending on your edition), and full of marvellous set-pieces, among them the courtroom farce scene, which remains unbettered in modern satire (no, Liar Liar doesn’t count, as fetching as Amanda Donohoe is), and the subsequent imprisonment of Mr. Pickwick for being caught in flagrante consoling his housekeeper. The touching bromance between Samuel and Pickwick, the hilarious Mr. Jingle’s frantic shorthand dialogue, and the indefatigable amiability of this bucolic idyll (and occasional dark turns) make this novel essential for even the most casual of Dickens admirers.
Profile Image for Jan-Maat.
1,546 reviews1,819 followers
March 16, 2019
I read this out in the garden, of the small house my parents bought before buying an even smaller one in a moderately more expensive street, anyhow I sat in a broad bottomed wicker chair beneath a flowering jasmine bush, one summer many years ago. It was the first book by Dickens that I enjoyed reading.

While out on my morning walk through the fog my thoughts fell into my climbing pace and I noticed that this is a model for a transition to novel writing - a loose series of episodes linked by a common cast of characters, who travel about the map having typical English adventures - a cricket match, an election day , a picnic, allowing Dickens to move from writing newspaper sketches to a novel without having to worry much about plot, it struck me that anyone could perhaps try to write a novel like that even methe flood of digressions almost made me smile as much as the flock of Sunday School children who had blocked my path the day before, leaving me to smile with half my face as their coffee cup wielding supervisors strove to shepherd them across a road. Don Quixote no doubt would have read this as a melancholy company of prisoners of war being marched to some grim camp and challenged their guardians to trial by battle, but I have a peaceful disposition.

These early books by Dickens were the ones which were translated in to French and then went on to influence European literature in the early nineteenth century with its broad humour of odd characters and mixing social classes in comic situations although I suppose Cervantes is the ultimate model for that coming down to shape Dickens via Smolett among others, since I tend to pronounce 'th' as 'f' in a lasting tribute to my early sauf London upbringing I was interested in Dickens' rendering of the Wellers speech patterns. I don't know, it is nice to see a nod to distinctive speech patterns , but it establishes a hierarchy of language at the same time those whose words are spelt correctly, speak correctly, but luckily for me no one can hear me type this.
Profile Image for Jonfaith.
1,854 reviews1,369 followers
December 2, 2019
The Pickwick Papers promised heft. Weighing in at 900 pages and larded with indices and erudite observations, the project promised muscle training, if nothing else. The serial natural of the narrative and general zany approach was also apprehended. I simply wasn't prepared, however, for Sam Weller. Oh lord, he may be my favorite character in recent memory. I wasn't prepared for such. I was expecting tales of the idle and curious confronting rural and proletarian situations, if only for hilarity and general misunderstanding to ensue. I didn't expect the wit and loyalty of young Weller, especially as the novel takes a rather dark turn and visits the black humors of Dickens' past. Along the journey, politicans, journalists, bankers and lawyers submit to tar-and-feathering: we are all the better for such. There's a surfeit of humiliation, but few are actually mean, as such.

Yes, the final fifth met the approval standards of its period. There are a slew of marriage plots to be resolved. Somehow that struck me as an addendum for decorum's sake. The novel becomes a meditation on friendship; between Pickwick and Weller, Sam and his father, the reader and Dickens.

I'm looking forward to reading all of Dickens this year; The Pickwick Papers was a marvelous inaugeration.
Profile Image for Lorna.
678 reviews367 followers
February 18, 2023
The Pickwick Papers was the first novel written by Charles Dickens when he was just twenty-four years old. Initially this was probably not a novel but a series of loosely related adventures and travels and the eccentricities of the Pickwick Club consisting of Samuel Pickwick, Esq., the main protagonist and founder of the Pickwick Club. Nathaniel Winkle and Augustus Snodgrass were young friends of Pickwick and his traveling companions. And Tracy Tupman was a fat, middle-aged man and also a traveling companion to Pickwick. However, the delightful Cockney butler, Samuel Weller and his father Tony Weller were both introduced later in the series introducing a lot of levity and humor. But one could also see the commentary on the judicial system and well as other social issues that Dickens has been associated with over the years.

This was initially produced serially over a period of many months in 1837 propelling Charles Dickens to fame. I was taken with the sharp dialogue throughout the book. It was a delight to read, particularly the parts about the justice system involving the case of his landlady brought against Pickwick and the ultimate outcome of the case, probably one of the most famous case in literature A few of my favorite quotes:

"Ah! poetry makes life what light and music do to the stage--strip the one of the false embellishments, and the other of its illusions, and what is there real in either to live or care for?"

"There is no month in the whole year in which nature wears a more beautiful appearance than in the month of August. Spring has many beauties, and May is a fresh and blooming month, but the charms of this time of year are enhanced by their contrast with the winter season. August has no such advantage. It comes when we remember nothing but clear skies, green fields, and sweet-smelling flowers--when the recollection of snow, and ice, and bleak winds, has faded from our minds completely as they have disappeared from the earth--and yet what a pleasant time it is! Orchards and cornfields ring with hum of labour; trees bend beneath the thick clusters of rich fruit which bow their branches to the ground; and the corn, piled in graceful sheaves, or waving in every light breath that sweeps above it, as if it wooed the sickle, tinges the landscape with a golden hue. A mellow softness appears to hang over the whole earth; and the influence of the season seems to extend itself to the very wagon, whose slow motion across the well-reaped field is perceptible only to the eye, but strikes with no harsh sound upon the ear."
Profile Image for Cindy Newton.
621 reviews129 followers
May 8, 2016
I'm sure that nothing I say here has not already been said, but here goes. This is the most light-hearted Dickens' I've read thus far, although there are hints and glimpses of his social activism to be found. This is his first novel, and you can see the seeds of who he will become already sprouting. It is amazing to read this and realize that he wrote this when he was 24. 24!!! Besides his youth, the method of writing is very limiting--he writes this in serial form, so each installment leaves his hands to be published and cannot be edited. How many novelists can work under the pressure of being unable to make changes in their work? Not to mention that he begins the serial presentation of Oliver Twist while still producing The Pickwick Papers. Such a schedule had to have been grueling for the young writer.

His talent for satire and caricature are already on display here as he introduces us to a procession of comic characters as the Pickwickians bumble from one adventure to the next. My favorite characters were Mr. Jingle, a sly con-artist who manages to get the best of the Pickwickians in several instances before getting his comeuppance, and the Wellers, both father and son. Their comical exchanges frequently brought a smile to my face. Sam, as Mr. Pickwick's faithful manservant, brings some much-needed common sense and street-smarts to the credulous quartet. We can see where Sam acquires his rather cynical view of humanity when we are introduced to his father, the career coachman whose household felicity is being sabotaged by a hypocritical "shepherd" who has the gullible Mrs. Weller in thrall. There are far too many characters who make their brief but impressionable appearances in these pages to acknowledge, but Dickens' genius for creating these images, both grotesque and farcical, of people we can recognize and identify with is already apparent, although it will continue to develop in each successive venture.

This is a must-read for any ardent Dickens fan, or for someone looking to become one (which, in my opinion, should be everyone)!
Profile Image for Barry Pierce.
556 reviews7,410 followers
January 18, 2014
Who needs a plot when you have wit?! This is less a novel more a series of continued vignettes disguised as a narrative, and I really liked it. It's essentially "Three Men in a Boat" but 950 pages long.
Profile Image for Davide.
488 reviews103 followers
November 29, 2018
Letteratura per ragazzi anziani

Dickens, che aveva scaldato i motori con gli Sketches by Boz, nel marzo 1836 fa partire una serie mensile che nasce dalla richiesta degli editori Chapman & Hall. All'inizio sembra una scelta piuttosto alimentare: scrive alla fidanzata Catherine Hogarth (che il 2 aprile 1836 diventa sua moglie): «the emolument is too tempting to resist». L’idea era di fornire il testo per accompagnare vignette sportive umoristiche disegnate dal popolare artista Robert Seymour, che però si suicida dopo il secondo numero; le illustrazioni sono allora portate avanti da Robert William Buss (il terzo numero) e poi soprattutto da Hablot K. Browne (col soprannome di Nemo e poi di Phiz), che rimarrà legato a Dickens per diversi anni. Boz e Phiz, eh sì!

La serie ottiene un grande successo popolare, anche finanziario (le vendite iniziano a crescere dal quarto numero; dalle 400 copie del primo numero si arriverà all’eccezionale tiratura di 40.000 copie del numero 15). L’edizione in volume esce il 17 novembre 1837.

Il primo vero successo di Dickens, insomma. Il fatto è che via via l’idea iniziale viene plasmata e trasformata in quello che diventa il suo primo romanzo, soprattutto usando il viaggio-vagabondaggio come struttura portante complessiva. Quindi una impalcatura unitaria ma apertissima, che permette incontri con vari tipi di persone, e la possibilità di seguire i diversi legami che instaurano tra loro; e lascia spazio a svariati ritorni. Perché ci si reincontra spesso in queste pagine, inaspettatamente e senza alcun problema di verosimiglianza (in questo è davvero un capolavoro del “romanzesco”).
Sopra questa impalcatura-palcoscenico, come già aveva mostrato negli Sketches precedenti, Dickens sa mettere a frutto una straordinaria attenzione per i particolari del teatro del mondo: aspetti e caratteri delle persone incontrate, descrizioni di abiti, comportamenti, suggestivi modi di parlare.

Insomma, l’intreccio è assai più delineato rispetto agli Sketches, però anche qui la struttura generale unitaria non impedisce l’emersione di molti racconti nel racconto. I Pickwick Papers possono anche essere letti come un capolavoro di quel tipo di opere lunghe (in una tradizione ideale che va da Apuleio a Boiardo, da Ariosto a Cervantes, ecc.) che incorporano dentro di sé tutta una serie di forme di racconto inserito, che viene innescato nei modi più vari: la narrazione del clergyman, il resoconto scritto del pazzo, il racconto nella taverna, The Parish Clerk (ossia una storia raccontata dallo stesso signor Pickwick, quando è costretto a letto dai reumatismi causati da una disavventura notturna), il vecchio esperto di locande che racconta storie macabre e di fantasmi. Trovano poi spazio per inserirsi anche poesie; un capitolo è totalmente dedicato alla storia del sacrestano rapito dai goblin; e si arriva quasi alla parodia della leggenda eziologica quando Pickwick è a Bath «to drink the waters» e legge su un «little manuscript» la storia del principe Bladud (che è davvero una leggenda britannica, menzionata per la prima volta da Goffredo di Monmouth).

Scriveva Mario Praz: «Pullulanti di personaggi, più d’una sessantina, quasi tutti comici, i Pickwick Papers sono uno dei capolavori dell’umorismo inglese.» Ed è certamente così, però non ci sono soltanto momenti ironici ma, come al solito in Dickens, anche alto patetismo e vigorosa denuncia sociale. Ad esempio nella crudelissima vicenda strappalacrime - anche questa inserita nel racconto principale - di George Heyling, vera novella morale:

Nei primi capitoli Pickwick è spalleggiato dai sodali del suo club (Mr Snodgrass, Mr Tupman, Mr Winkle), ma dal capitolo XII entra con prepotenza in scena Samuel Weller, assunto come servitore da Pickwick: si crea così una coppia che spesso è stata messa in rapporto con quella composta da don Chisciotte e Sancho Panza. Diverse sono le classi sociali di provenienza e quindi, di conseguenza, i comportamenti e la lingua; Samuel è giovane cockney (più avanti compare anche il suo degno padre), dalla parlantina sciolta, piena di battute e similitudini-citazioni strampalate e buffe (molto divertenti, ma spesso non facili da capire per il non madrelingua inglese…) e con la sua presenza il ritmo dell'opera si vivacizza ulteriormente.

Il capitolo XXXIV (ma non è il solo) mette in mostra tutta l’esperienza di cronista giudiziario del giovane Dickens, con uno sguardo caricaturale e disincantato sul mondo giudiziario: il processo contro Pickwick è attivato dall’accusa della sua padrona di casa di aver rotto una promessa di matrimonio: che non è mai avvenuta, ma il vecchio gentiluomo è comunque condannato, a causa dell’abilità manipolatoria degli avvocati. E visto che si rifiuta risolutamente di pagare ciò che considera ingiusto, finisce in prigione per debiti (ancora una volta! Si rivedono ambienti simili già descritti negli Sketches e nel racconto incastonato che citavo prima).

Ne deriva la sarcastica denuncia contro «the just and wholesome law which declares that the sturdy felon shall be feed and clothed, and that the penniless debtors shall be left to die of starvation and nakedness» (si vede come Dickens sa già far risuonare il tono tipico dell’ironia denunciatoria che di lì a poco sarà abbondantemente dispiegato in Oliver Twist).

Il finale è da commedia: nozze. Anzi, da commedia moltiplicata, con tutta una serie di matrimoni. Pickwick si ritira dai suoi vagabondaggi conoscitivi e si fa preparare una ricca e confortevole casa nei dintorni di Londra, dove vive assistito dal fedele Samuel, a sua volta accasato, secondo le convenienze sociali, con una cameriera carina.

Ancora il maestro Praz: «Mr. Pickwick, l’atticciato vecchio signore calvo e occhialuto, in falde, entra in scena come una caricatura, e via via si muta in uno di quei caratteri verso cui il romanziere si sentiva attratto, un essere fatto di semplicità di cuore e di benevolenza, coi suoi lati deboli – l’alzare talvolta il gomito, il cacciarsi negl’impicci, il divenire preda dei gabbacristiani – che lo rendono più umano e simpatico: alla fine dell’opera il suo cranio calvo e lucido si cinge quasi di un’aureola di santità, quasiché in lui si sublimasse l’essenza spirituale di una borghesia proba e pedestre.» (che bellezza!)
E in effetti colpisce come questo libro scritto da un ventenne finisca quasi per essere un manifesto della vecchiaia felice, tanto mette al centro una visione – certo idealizzata e insieme ironizzata, ma nel complesso riccamente positiva - dell'età matura.
Profile Image for Fernando.
680 reviews1,089 followers
March 11, 2020
"Si el humor es esa ilógica y admirable capacidad humana de hacer frente a la sombra con la luz -no para negarla sino para asumirla y a la vez demostrarle que no nos dejaremos absorber por ella-, Los papeles póstumos del Club Pickwick valen como uno de esos raros reductos donde el humor se concentra hasta lograr una máxima tensión y una jubilosa eficacia." Julio Cortázar

Que a unos jóvenes 24 años Charles Dickens escribiera una joya literaria de más de 800 páginas como Pickwick no es otra cosa sino anticipar su impecable carrera literaria.
Como libro debut es indiscutible y no es menos importante que "Historia de dos ciudades", "David Copperfield" o "Grandes esperanzas", sino la punta del iceberg de su talento. Publicada por entregas entre abril de 1836 y noviembre de 1837, le permitió al autor darse a conocer al mundo literario inglés y a partir de allí no se detendría más.
En contraste con sus otras novela, este libro es fresco, divertido y se distancia de todas las tragedias y complicaciones de las novelas que vendrán. Es una serie de aventuras y desventuras protagonizadas por el presidente del club, el filántropo y filósofo Samuel Pickwick y una serie de peculiares personajes que lo acompañan, siendo
Nathaniel Winkle (deportista notable), Augustus Snodgrass (poeta y escurridizo personaje), Tracy Tupman (un señor mayor algo picaflor) y muy especialmente Samuel Weller, el criado del señor Pickwick que es el personaje más logrado de todos por sus contrapuntos contra las personalidades de los demás y por sus intrusiones propias de un Sancho Panza modernizado con un cínico sentido del humor inglés..
Otro personaje que para mí es extremadamente importante es el señor Alfred Jingles, un verdadero truhan al que Dickens dota de una viveza particular para ser pícaro y taimado a la vez, pero sin ningún tipo de mala intención. Sus acciones se desprenden de su naturaleza. Otra característica muy importante que tiene el señor Jingles es la particularísima manera que tiene de hablar y que no he notado nunca en ningún personaje de ninguna novela. Aquel que lea este libro se dará cuenta rápidamente de lo que indico.
Pude notar también notar ciertas similitudes entre esta novela y "Don Quijote de la Mancha", en primer lugar por las andanzas de estos personajes por toda Inglaterra, ya que tienen un talento innato para meterse en todo tipo de problemas que los deja en situaciones realmente poco deseables a punto tal que tanto el señor Pickwick como Sam terminan en la cárcel un tiempo prolongado y en segundo lugar porque Dickens intercala historias o cuentos dentro de la novela de la misma manera que las instauró Cervantes en su libro magno.
Las correrías de estos señores que indudablemente nada tienen que hacer más que meterse en problemas hacen que no haya lugar para cosas tristes sino todo lo contrario, pero a su vez es una certera mirada de Dickens hacia las costumbres e idiosincrasia de las distintas clases sociales de Inglaterra. Es all�� donde Dickens, a través de Pickwick dice que no es filósofo, sino un "observador de la naturaleza humana".
Tal vez, el único punto que tengo para objetarle al libro es que al haber sido publicado por entregas, y para captar la atención de los lectores de la época, se hace extremadamente largo y eso puede notarse en las extensas introducciones acerca de los personajes, los lugares o la acción pronta a sucederse.
Independientemente, nos encontraremos en "Los papeles póstumos del Club Pickwick todo aquello que toca lo picaresco, grotesco y paródico pero a la vez divertido y por momentos de carácter filosófico (especialmente en Samuel Pickwick) que Dickens podía destacar de los seres humanos y es indudable el talento y poder de observación que autores como él tenían para tan poca edad.
En cierto modo sorprende pero por otro lado explica por qué Charles Dickens uno de los escritores más respetados y admirados de la literatura.
Profile Image for Perry.
632 reviews515 followers
February 7, 2017
It's over, and can't be helped,...as they always say in Turkey when they cut the wrong man's head off."
“She dotes on poetry, sir. She adores it; I may say that her whole soul and mind are wound up, and entwined with it. She has produced some delightful pieces, herself, sir. You may have met with her 'Ode to an Expiring Frog,' sir.”

“Can I view thee panting, lying
On thy stomach, without sighing;
Can I unmoved see thee dying
On a log
Expiring frog!”

I agree generally with my Goodreads friends' reviews that Dickens' first novel (published serially in 1836 and 1837), does not really hit its stride until after a couple hundred pages. This boost coincides with the introduction of Dickens' first humorous character, Samuel (Sam) Weller, Mr. Pickwick's personal servant and companion, and his hilarious cockney accent (who pronounces his surname as "Veller," with nearly all beginning W's and V's used interchangeably) and humorous sayings, such as "It's over, and can't be helped, and that's one consolation, as they always say in Turkey when they cut the wrong man's head off."

The novel primarily provides a sequence of loosely related comic adventures (much like Don Quixote), though it also contains Dickens' first blasts of sharp social satire, here directed at greedy lawyers and specious lawsuits.

I enjoyed it when considering it was Dickens' first and gave way to many more memorable characters and superior stories, such as those in David Copperfield and Great Expectations.

Profile Image for Carmo.
652 reviews467 followers
May 29, 2019
"As personagens mudam pouco ou nada, ao longo do romance (o Sr.Pickwick continua a ser um ingénuo bem intencionado, o Sr. Snodgrass um péssimo poeta, o Sr.Tupman um pinga-amor celibatário ), mas o autor e o leitor mudam. O sarcasmo de Dickens, e o nosso, transforma-se em admiração, embora o Sr.Pickwick se mantenha igual - como os deuses. Como diz Chesterton: 《Dickens não escreveu exatamente literatura; escreveu mitologia.》"

Dickens é o meu "avô literário"; o grande culpado desta paixão que me faz continuar a correr atrás de mais e mais livros, e a permanecer maravilhada com o encanto da Literatura.

Gosto do contraste levado quase ao exagero entre personagens; a graciosidade e generosidade de umas face à vilania de outras, admiro a sua veia crítica; sempre a apontar a pena em defesa dos mais infelizes e desprotegidos, e adoro as reviravoltas miraculosas que dá às histórias e termina tudo de maneira perfeita e feliz. Pode ser um tanto utópico, mas não deixa de nos confortar e de nos resgatar alguma fé perdida na humanidade.

Os Cadernos de Pickwick , salvo alguns episódios, são relatos extremamente divertidos e leves, com personagens muito caricatas e ilustrações que só vêm acentuar ainda mais a comicidade.
Contudo, 900 páginas dão espaço para muitas histórias e às tantas já pesava algum cansaço. É o problema das histórias inicialmente publicadas em fascículos, que uma vez reunidas em livro se tornam demasiado extensas.
Profile Image for Peter.
2,620 reviews468 followers
July 13, 2018
great humerous portrait of victorian society, not a book if you're in your 20s but if you're in your 40s you will definitely enjoy this great classic. No other author can set his characters better in scene, I had to laugh about the names of the characters and the adventures they faced... magnificent, afterwards, please to to London...
Profile Image for aPriL does feral sometimes .
1,889 reviews428 followers
February 8, 2016
Gorgeous writing lifts 'The Pickwick Papers' into an upper stratosphere! It isn't often a farce gets five stars from me. This may be Charles Dickens' first novel, built out of a newspaper serial, but there is nothing here to indicate to me that Dickens was struggling to find his voice! He comes out of the gate full speed! Everything which has most critics adoring his later books is here: social satire, a comprehensive set of lively and memorable contemporary 19th-century comical and lovable characters representing all sectors of society - lawyers, doctors, politically-connected newspaper owners, military soldiers, wealthy educated gentry, the working poor and the middle-class from small farming communities and the slums of London struggling to earn whatever coin they can find whether by legal or illegal means. Also, a ridiculous legal judgement imposed on Samuel Pickwick, the main character whom most of the book follows on several journeys around London and in various adventures in surrounding country inns gives Dickens the opportunity to describe a famous prison where people who could not pay their bills were incarcerated, very likely based on the actual imprisonment of Dicken’s father.

The first chapter opens with a formal proclamation being announced to society of an assignment being given to the most highly respected member of an association, along with other friends:

'That the said proposal has received the sanction and approval of this Association. 'That the Corresponding Society of the Pickwick Club is therefore hereby constituted; and that Samuel Pickwick, Esq., G.C.M.P.C., Tracy Tupman, Esq., M.P.C., Augustus Snodgrass, Esq., M.P.C., and Nathaniel Winkle, Esq., M.P.C., are hereby nominated and appointed members of the same; and that they be requested to forward, from time to time, authenticated accounts of their journeys and investigations, of their observations of character and manners, and of the whole of their adventures, together with all tales and papers to which local scenery or associations may give rise, to the Pickwick Club, stationed in London.

Dickens, Charles (2007-09-18). Works of Charles Dickens (200+ Works) The Adventures of Oliver Twist, Great Expectations, A Christmas Carol, A Tale of Two Cities, Bleak House, David Copperfield & more (mobi) (Kindle Locations 161029-161033). MobileReference. Kindle Edition.

The meeting does not occur quite as smoothly as this proclamation suggests; there is almost a fistfight among members because of, perhaps, misunderstandings and insults. In any case, the 2-year exploratory set of journeys is begun. Adventures great and small (mostly small) are told in many chapters, and many peculiar individuals cross the path of Pickwick and his friends as they travel in search of edifying experiences with which they hope to educate themselves about their world. Although humorous accidents and failures of judgement cause much trouble and consternation for the intrepid travelers, there is also enlightenment, love, dinner parties, dancing and best of all, lots of good strong ale!

Despite some misadventures, the travelers find much that they enjoy:

“In plain commonplace matter-of-fact, then, it was a fine morning--so fine that you would scarcely have believed that the few months of an English summer had yet flown by. Hedges, fields, and trees, hill and moorland, presented to the eye their ever-varying shades of deep rich green; scarce a leaf had fallen, scarce a sprinkle of yellow mingled with the hues of summer, warned you that autumn had begun. The sky was cloudless; the sun shone out bright and warm; the songs of birds, the hum of myriads of summer insects, filled the air; and the cottage gardens, crowded with flowers of every rich and beautiful tint, sparkled, in the heavy dew, like beds of glittering jewels. Everything bore the stamp of summer, and none of its beautiful colour had yet faded from the die.”

Dickens, Charles (2007-09-18). Works of Charles Dickens (200+ Works) The Adventures of Oliver Twist, Great Expectations, A Christmas Carol, A Tale of Two Cities, Bleak House, David Copperfield & more (mobi) (Kindle Locations 164672-164678). MobileReference. Kindle Edition.

‘The Pickwick Papers’ is entirely made of beautiful colors!
Profile Image for Myricae ♡.
119 reviews26 followers
April 27, 2020
Chiudo il romanzo per l’ultima volta e assurdo, mi commuovo.

È stato un lungo viaggi: quattro pasticcioni e tante, tantissime avventure. Tra incomprensioni, colpi di scena e un numero incalcolabile di risate, i giorni sono volati gli uni dietro gli altri facendomi dimenticare tutto, persino la tristezza di giorni drammatici come questi che stiamo vivendo.
Ma che volete che vi dica ?
Non è forse questa la magia dei libri ?
Non è forse questo il potere di un classico ?

Dickens ancora una volta ha conquistato il mio cuore.

Mia manca già tantissimo lasciare gli impareggiabili membri del Circolo Pickwick, ma una cosa è sicura: li ricorderò per sempre, anche io, come amici formidabili di cui non si può far a meno di parlare :’) ♥️
Profile Image for Bob.
578 reviews19 followers
January 4, 2021
4.5 Stars

My second novel this year by Dickens, the first was David Copperfield, and I've also read three short stories. For a guy who spent his life scared to even try a novel written by Dickens, I've read a bunch over the last few years. I hope to live long enough to read all of his works.

As for Pickwick, I enjoyed it, a lot. I may just be me and again It haven't read all of his work, but it seems that he was testing the waters for future plots and characters. Anyway this was a great way to finish off the year 2020.

An easy recommendation!!
Profile Image for ·Karen·.
614 reviews762 followers
December 13, 2012
I found this while clearing out the cellar. The price inside the front cover is one pound seventy five, and there's a card inside from an antiquarian bookshop in St Andrews. I have zero recall of buying it, although I do remember visits to St Andrews, and losing one daughter in the haar at the beach. Luckily it was the sensible daughter, not inclined to panic.

"The Biographical Edition, edited by Arthur Waugh, father of Evelyn Waugh, with his introduction in each volume. Waugh had been appointed managing director of Chapman and Hall in 1902 and wasted no time in capitalizing on the firm’s most famous asset.

Original 19 volume set, was supplemented with two additional volumes “Miscellaneous Papers” and “Life of Charles Dickens” by John Forster all in uniform green buckram binding with gilt lettering on spine and gold crest on front cover."

That's the one! Green binding with gold lettering and crest! Unfortunately it has not aged well, at least not as a physical object. Paper: yellow and too thin, allowing the print on the reverse to shimmer through, and a curiously hard-on-the-eyes typeface. This is partly what slowed me down - there are not enough lamps in the whole of IKEA to make it easy on the peepers.

So this is the one that changed everything. This is the one that proved it possible to actually make money from writing. Chapman & Hall rubbed their hands with glee all the way to the bank, and when the original contract for 20 monthly numbers finished in October 1837, they understandably wanted to continue their lucrative partnership with Boz. They had managed to keep their rising star sweet by giving him bonuses, but now they had to re-negotiate the monthly payments. In April 1836, when Dickens started Pickwick, he was paid 20 pounds a month. For Nicholas Nickleby he was offered (dramatic pause) one hundred and fifty. Per month. At a time when an annual income of 100 pounds qualified you into respectability. Incredible really.

And although it's chortlingly funny in places and although Mr Pickwick himself is quite adorable, it's a teeny bit hard to understand the hold he had over the reading public of 1836. To some extent its spectacular sales have to be ascribed to a kind of desperation, a starvation. The growing lower middle classes must have been crying out for good stories to read - any other form of entertainment was usually not quite respectable. The only cheap books available were those that were out of copyright - in other words old. New books were beyond the ornery family's means. Affordable alternatives were the 'blood and thunders' - the cheap, nasty, low form of publication that all Dickens's friends warned him against. He would ruin his reputation by associating himself with this kind of weekly or monthly stuff that revolved around Gothic horror, violent crime and sex. So the revolution was not serial publication itself, but the fact that Dickens took this cheap format and went up market with it. A shilling a shot, at a time when a skilled worker in London was earning 30s a week, and his shilling could buy him two pounds of meat. Not cheap. But worth it for several hours of entertainment, and, crucially perhaps, entertainment that you could take home and allow your wife, your daughter and even the serving maid to read. There's nothing here to make a lady blush or corrupt the lower orders either. Good clean fun. And he doesn't make it too obvious that he's filling pages for the money. I mean he doesn't just stuff it with pages and pages of dialogue - nice short lines you see, fills the page nice and quick. He doesn't do that. It's value for money that he offers. Maybe no longer the sort of thing that will clear the streets while everyone reads the latest installment. But a phenomenon nonetheless.

Profile Image for Manray9.
379 reviews101 followers
November 5, 2019
It has been quite some time since a book made me laugh out loud. Charles Dickens' Pickwick Papers, or more properly The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club, did so again and again. The book arose from Dickens' engagement to provide descriptions to accompany a series of comic prints in the popular genre of the picture novel. Dickens' captions grew into serialized articles which appeared in nineteen installments over twenty months during 1836-37. They were then compiled into his first novel and published in 1837 to great public acclaim.

The novel exemplifies the early picaresque period of Dickens' writing. The story traces the escapades of Mr. Pickwick, his small group of friends, and his waggish but devoted servant as they travel about England and encounter a menagerie of eccentric characters. The members of the Pickwick Club collect amusing tales in the various locales they visit. While the tales are entertaining and often contain a supernatural element, the Pickwickians themselves are indelible figures and their misadventures are richer in comedy and more colorful than the stories they collect. Due to the original serialization, the novel is episodic. The separations between the installments are easily recognizable. This does not detract from the book in any meaningful manner.

Classics are considered such for good reasons and Pickwick Papers serves as a sterling example. As Steven Marcus noted in his Afterword to this Signet Classics edition:

...Pickwick Papers persists as a 'classic' entirely on its own merits; it does not, like so much of our greatest literature, have to be kept alive by schools or colleges. Nor does it have to be rediscovered.

Charles Dickens' jewel of a first novel is certainly worthy of a Five Star rating in my library.
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467 reviews63 followers
July 7, 2019
Leggere il romanzo d’esordio del grande Charles Dickens è stata un'esperienza decisamente positiva, nonostante avessi un po’ di timore derivato dall’era scolastica, quando avevo letto alcuni brani antologici in lingua madre che non mi avevano lasciato ricordi, per così dire, entusiasmanti.

Ho trovato, invece, un affascinante affresco di un’epoca passata, arricchito da umorismo e ironia. Capace ancora di suscitare emozioni e coinvolgimento.

Ho amato Sam Weller e la sua incredibile capacità di sfornare battute umoristiche, ma anche di trovare sempre la soluzione ai problemi.
Non mi ha colpito, invece, nessuna figura femminile; forse volutamente in secondo piano rispetto agli uomini.

Volendo essere critico posso dire di averlo trovato a volte inutilmente prolisso, ma credo sia strettamente connesso alla sua natura di romanzo a puntate. E, comunque, non tanto da rallentarmene la lettura.

Mi è tornato in mente, leggendolo, lo sceneggiato TV (allora si chiamavano così) di Ugo Gregoretti con uno strepitoso Gigi Proietti nella parte di Jingle e Mario Pisu nella parte di Pickwick. Ma sono ricordi lontani…
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