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The Mystery of Edwin Drood

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Charles Dickens's final, unfinished novel, and one that has puzzled readers and inspired writers since its publication, The Mystery of Edwin Drood is edited with an introduction by David Paroissien in Penguin Classics.

Edwin Drood is contracted to marry orphan Rosa Bud when he comes of age, but when they find that duty has gradually replaced affection, they agree to break off the engagement. Shortly afterwards, in the middle of a storm on Christmas Eve, Edwin disappears, leaving nothing behind but some personal belongings and the suspicion that his jealous uncle John Jasper, madly in love with Rosa, is the killer. And beyond this presumed crime there are further intrigues: the dark opium dens of the sleepy cathedral town of Cloisterham, and the sinister double life of Choirmaster Jasper, whose drug-fuelled fantasy life belies his respectable appearance. Dickens died before completing The Mystery of Edwin Drood, leaving its tantalising mystery unsolved and encouraging successive generations of readers to turn detective.

This edition contains an introduction by David Paroissien, discussing the novel's ending, with a chronology, notes, original illustrations by Samuel Luke Fildes, appendices on opium use in the nineteenth century, the 'Sapsea Fragment' and Dickens's plans for the story's conclusion.

Charles Dickens is one of the best-loved novelists in the English language, whose 200th anniversary was celebrated in 2012. His most famous books, including Oliver Twist, Great Expectations, A Tale of Two Cities, David Copperfield and The Pickwick Papers, have been adapted for stage and screen and read by millions.

If you enjoyed The Mystery of Edwin Drood, you might like Dickens's Little Dorrit, also available in Penguin Classics.

432 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1870

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About the author

Charles Dickens

13.2k 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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Profile Image for Bionic Jean.
1,227 reviews1,061 followers
March 9, 2023
Mystery and detective novels are one of the most popular genres, but have you ever wondered who wrote the first mystery novel?

The Mystery of Edwin Drood first published in 1870, is certainly one of the earliest, although not the first. That privilege is due to a work in German published in 1819, and entitled “Das Fräulein von Scuderi” by the Prussian author E.T.A. Hoffmann. This influenced what many consider the first true mystery short story, “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” which was written by Edgar Allan Poe in 1841. In 1860, Wilkie Collins wrote the novel “The Woman in White”, followed by “The Moonstone” in 1868. Two years later came Charles Dickens’s The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Then in 1887, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle introduced the public to Sherlock Holmes, leading to a huge surge in the popularity of mystery stories. Crime and detective fiction has never looked back.

Looking at the paucity of material in a genre which was in its infancy, it strikes us that two of these authors were friends with Charles Dickens. Moreover, Wilkie Collins and Charles Dickens were particularly close, often discussing their writing projects, and collaborating on several works. Coincidence? Hardly. The fingerprints of both authors show throughout their later novels.

The Mystery of Edwin Drood is Dickens’s final work; one which he was destined never to complete. Ironically, it remained much more of a mystery than he ever intended it to be, although perhaps that would have caused him a wry smile. Dickens loved mysteries, and his previous fourteen novels are peppered with mysterious strangers, age-old family plots, mysteries of inheritance, embezzlement and fraud, secret family connections, characters who have the same names, doppelgängers, mysterious coincidences, mistaken identities, and the like. Mysteries–and misdirections–abound.

Dickens also loved the supernatural, and had an eye for the grotesque and the macabre. His works of fiction are thronged with wraiths and sceptres, ghosts, ghouls and tombs. Put together the gruesome tales of Edgar Allan Poe and the fiendishly complex detective plots of Wilkie Collins, add a dash of darkly absurd humour, and you have Charles Dickens. And nowhere is the mystery novel more evident than in The Mystery of Edwin Drood. It has teased scholars and the public alike ever since.

Some think they have solved the mystery, but only half of the novel was ever written, and Dickens kept his cards very close to his chest. Nor do we know what precisely the mystery is: an unsolved disappearance or a murder story? We have plenty of clues, not only in the text itself, but by comments he made to those close to him. He told his mentor, John Forster, early on that he had an idea for a novel in which a nephew would be murdered by his uncle. The illustrator Luke Fildes said that Dickens had told him, when they were discussing an illustration, “I must have the double necktie! It is necessary, for Jasper strangles Edwin Drood with it.” And Charley, Dickens’s son said that when he asked his father “Of course, Edwin Drood was murdered?” he was told, “Of course, what do you suppose?” and that Jasper was the murderer. Dickens’s sister-in-law, Georgina Hogarth also insisted she was in the know, saying to him “I hope you haven’t really killed poor Edwin Drood?” to receive the ambiguous reply, “I call it the Mystery not the History of Edwin Drood”. Dickens even offered to divulge his plans for the story to one of his greatest fans, Queen Victoria, at the start of the serialisation, but she refused, as she wished to read each thrilling installment as it was published.

But was it all after all a double bluff? Dickens gave hints to other members of his family and friends which were not always consistent with this. And everyone was naturally convinced that they were privy to his closest, most reliable thoughts. Earlier discarded titles for this book include “The Loss of Edwin Brude” (sic.) and, interestingly “Edwin Drood in Hiding”, which makes us wonder.

Perhaps he was, after all, apprehensive about completing the novel. He had taken a break of 5 years since writing “Our Mutual Friend”; an unprecedented gap in his writing so far. And to his daughter Katey, he wrote, “If please, I live to finish it … I say if, because you know, my dear child, I have not been strong lately.” (Katey’s husband, Charles Collins, Wilkie Collins’s brother, designed the cover illustration, but was too ill to work on the other illustrations.) The train accident which nearly claimed Dickens’s life during the serialisation of his previous novel still plagued him. He was increasingly ill and weak, finding it increasingly difficult to conceal his double life with Nelly Ternan, and refusing to cut back on any of his physically exhausting public readings. He was slowly killing himself.

Perhaps he would have had second thoughts, and monarch or no, artfully dodged out of revealing the answer. Dickens often gleefully inserted red herrings, and altered many elements and characters, twisting the direction a story was to take mid-stream. For instance, he discarded the beginning of “Great Expectations” on the advice of a friend, significantly altering the fates of Pip and Estella. And in “Martin Chuzzlewit” the first four installments had already been published before Dickens even thought of sending the hero to the United States. Yet nowadays, this is considered his “American novel"! Characters such as Miss Mowcher in “David Copperfield”, frequently received a moral overhaul, when their real life counterparts publicly objected. We can’t really second guess Dickens’s intentions from half a book. He might not have known them himself.

Charles Dickens excelled at depicting the sordid underbelly of society, and this novel is no exception. It starts in an opium den run by a haggard woman, known as “Princess Puffer”. As he had countless times before, Dickens based this character on a person in real life, one whom he knew, having visited an opium den with friends in May of the previous year. The old hag was based on “Lascar Sal”, who ran a well-known opium den in the East End of London. Lascar Sal was said to have looked like an 80 year old woman, although she was only 26.

In the 19th century, such opium dens were common in China, Southeast Asia, North America and France. They tended to be mostly used and run by the Chinese, because the suppliers of opium were Chinese, although they would prepare it for visiting non-Chinese smokers too. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle himself frequented an opium den run by Ah Sing, (otherwise known as John Johnston), who came from Amoy, in China. He immortalised this den in his story “The Man with the Twisted Lip”. The descriptions in The Mystery of Edwin Drood are authentic, describing the long special opium pipes and oil lamps which were necessary to smoke the drug. Patrons reclined so that they could better release and inhale the vapour.

The mysterious, foggy atmosphere which permeates the novel is thus induced in the very first chapter. John Jasper, pillar of the community, choirmaster of Cloisterham Cathedral, and uncle and guardian of the title character, Edwin Drood, is here, secretly smoking opium. Our first view of him is this:

“Shaking from head to foot, the man whose scattered consciousness has thus fantastically pieced itself together, at length rises, supports his trembling frame upon his arms, and looks around.”

He is “a dark man of some six-and-twenty, with thick, lustrous, well-arranged black hair and whiskers”. But Jasper is world-weary, addicted to opium to dispel his ennui and boredom with his life, and lives at least part of the time in a confused drug-induced state. What we are never sure about, is how befuddled John Jasper really is. His own ends are often disreputable and sinister. We are constantly reading Jasper’s innermost thoughts, and viewing his secretive actions, having a sense of foreboding about him right from this first chapter. Dickens describes Jasper’s attitude and demeanour towards Edwin Drood, who is only a few years younger than he is, as:

“A look of intentness and intensity–a look of hungry, exacting, watchful, and yet devoted affection…”

which seems a very odd, hypocritical way for an apparently affectionate uncle to look at his nephew. We also observe a possible cause of this straight away. On to the scene comes a very pretty young girl, much given to tossing her head, arching her eyebrows, pouting her lips or hooking a finger in the corner of her rosebud mouth. Her name? “Rosa Bud”. She is an orphan and Edwin Drood’s fiancée. Their betrothal had been arranged by their fathers, almost as soon as they were born. These two are constantly at odds, sparring, but not flirtatiously. It seems as if their lifelong understanding has led to a withering of any truly romantic relationship which could have developed. Neither seem very likeable to a modern reader. Edwin may be handsome and charming, but he is naive and rather thoughtless, yawning whenever he likes, and given to making crass comments, as well as being what George Bernard Shaw called “an insufferable bore”.

Cloisterham, where the novel is set, is easily recognisable as Rochester, a city which Dickens knew very well. In fact he loved it so much that his final wishes were to be buried without pomp “in the small graveyard under Rochester Castle wall.” This wish was ultimately ignored, as he was buried with great ceremony and honour in “Poet’s Corner”, in Westminster Abbey. Nevertheless, he had known the area since he was a child, and eventually bought a big house he had admired ever since, Gads Hill Place, in nearby Higham. Many of his earlier novels such as “Pickwick Papers”, and “Great Expectations” feature descriptions of the city. Also in “Great Expectations”, a house in Rochester, “Restoration House”, is the model for “Satis House”, where Miss Havisham lives. Dickens also chose another house in Rochester to be “The Nuns’ House” in The Mystery of Edwin Drood. “Eastgate House” is an Elizabethan townhouse, which has been a Dickens Museum since 1923. In its grounds is the Swiss chalet in which Dickens penned several of his novels. In The Mystery of Edwin Drood this house is “Miss Twinkleton’s Seminary for Young Ladies” where Rosa resides and is educated in the art of what is deemed appropriate and desirable for young ladies to know.

And from the name “Miss Twinkleton”, we can see that, dark though this novel is, with much evidence of foul play and dirty deeds, it also contains plenty of Dickens’s trademark humour. Miss Twinkleton, the headmistress of the Nuns’ House boarding school, is an “excellent lady” with a great respect for the “shrine of Propriety”. She is ably assisted by her companion Mrs. Tisher, and these two afford many delightful comic episodes. Later in the novel, the sparks fly when Miss Twinkleton’s jealous care of her favourite charge sets her at odds with a Mrs Billickins, who runs lodgings in London. The verbal duel between these two is so quintessentially Dickens, conjuring up the confrontation between Miss Pross and Madame De Farge, Aunt Betsey and the Murdstone duo, and a host of others.

Dickens found it impossible to resist including caricatures and buffoons, even in this novel. So we also have Thomas Sapsea, a comically conceited auctioneer, whose arrogance is exacerbated by his appointment to be the Mayor of Cloisterham. He is well matched by the Dean, the most senior clergyman at Cloisterham Cathedral, whose sense of self-importance is so convincing, that others feel obliged to behave with a fitting deference to him. Of course, this boosts his ego, so in return he behaves in a condescending manner.

We have Durdles, a stonemason. He knows more than anyone else about the Cloisterham Cathedral cemetery including the history of all the tombs, and where they all are. Durdles is an irresistibly entertaining character, who knows far more than he lets on. But we are often led away from thinking too much about him, by his eccentricities. One is to employ a small vagrant boy, whom he calls “Deputy”. The job is an unusual one. If Deputy if to catch Durdles out after 10 pm, he is required to throws rocks at him until he goes home - and Durdles pays him a ha’penny for doing so!

Another buffoon is Luke Honeythunder, a bullying London philanthropist with a thunderously loud voice. And here we come to another intriguing aspect of the novel. Mr. Honeythunder is the guardian of Neville and Helena Landless, twins from Ceylon, (now Sri Lanka) who have come to live in Cloisterham with John Jasper. It is not clear what the relationship is, but we learn that in their childhood these two were mistreated and deprived, so much that . Of course Neville is immediately smitten with darling sweet Rosa, and bold Helena quickly becomes Rosa’s confidante and friend. Neville is clever, but very proud, and gets into a good deal of trouble because of what might termed the chip on his shoulder.

The introduction of a brother and sister from a far-off country leads to displays of racial prejudice by some of the good people of Cloisterham, who seem eager to see the worst in these two orphans. We also get an insight into the various attitudes of the time, regarding immigrants of another colour to the respectable society of a small cathedral city in the 19th century. Dickens observes this with a keen eye. He has offered us many candidates for guilty secrets, possibly leading to crimes such as abduction or even murder. With such erratic, and sometimes untrustworthy set of characters, are there any to whom we look for a balanced outlook? Certainly, although none of these are actually above suspicion.

There is the Reverend Septimus Crisparkle, a minor canon of Cloisterham Cathedral, who becomes Neville Landless’s mentor. He seems an upright, decent sort of fellow, who lives with his sprightly widowed mother. There’s also Hiram Grewgious, a “very angular” person. Eccentric and ponderously correct at first, this London lawyer appears to have a good heart. He takes his duties as Rosa Bud’s guardian seriously, as he was a friend of her parents. And yet … there is the beginning of a back story coming out here.

Although we only have half a novel, Dickens is still introducing new characters in each chapter. Towards the “end” we meet Dick Datchery, a stranger who takes lodgings in Cloisterham for a month or two, and another newcomer Mr. Tartar, a retired naval officer, who resigned his commission in his late twenties when an uncle left him some property. Are either of these perhaps not what they seem? Why have they moved to Cloisterham at this point, when a murder may or may not have been committed? Are they acting for the police in some capacity, or do they have roguish connections?

Clearly this novel raises far more questions than it answers. It is beguiling, and important to not to read it too quickly. Whatever our normal reading speed, we are used to the framework of a novel which finishes rather than stopping abruptly, and pace our reading accordingly. This seems like a short read, but in fact it is very complex. There is a panoply of different threads and ideas to follow, and many books have been written, either with possible endings, or discussing ideas it is impossible to go into here. For instance, there are many references to Shakespeare’s play “Macbeth” in both action, context and words. It would be easy to miss these, but surely they are significant.

I do not believe, in my heart, that John Jasper is guilty of murdering his nephew, whether as a cunning plan, or in a drug-induced nightmarish state. It does not “fit” with how Dickens writes. He gives us satisfying endings, and usually we see what happens to even the more minor characters, but only when we have been rooting for an unfortunate character to make good, or two unlikely lovebirds to come together, do we hope for a particular ending. The mystery parts of his novels are never predictable, and usually come as a surprise. Yes, Dickens was writing in an entirely new genre, concerned with how police detectives would solve a possible crime, but it is a step too far to envisage his leap into psychological crime novels, where the perpetrator is known from the start, and the interest lies in how they have become the disturbed personality they now are. Those sort of books are a very recent development.

On the other hand, it is quite possible to see parallels in Dickens’s own family, which mirror Dickens’s emotional involvement with each of the characters in The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Incidental examples too, such as Bazzard, Grewgious’s clerk, who so clearly thinks he is demeaning himself by taking such a position, since he . And was Dickens writing one of his own sons in the character of the feckless charmer, Edwin Drood, forever planning to do great things, but spending money on worthless pursuits? Even more audaciously, was he writing himself in the book as John Jasper?

He had often complained about his various sons, having occasional flashes of pride, but usually saying that they “disappointed” him … “Why was I ever a father! Why was my father ever a father!” One, Walter, went missing whilst in the British army in India and later was reported dead. Does this sound a little like Edwin? Another, Sydney, had been banished from the Gads Hill Estate by his father, for his accumulated debts and financial problems. Dickens said “I begin to wish that he were honestly dead.” Does this sound similar to Jasper’s love/hate relationship with his nephew? And Jasper had a real life counterpart in Dickens’s own brothers, Augustus and Frederick, who were reported to be dissolute, unscrupulous and lecherous. Psychologists could have a field day with this; even the details such as both Jasper and Dickens are common to both men.

How was the book to end? Dickens died in the early summer of 1870, having published six installments with 6 more yet to come. He noted the main developments of the plot as he wrote them, presumably for continuity purposes, and sometimes these brief notes are included in editions today. However, the final six chapter of these notes are just headings, with the contents remaining blank. It clearly was a fluid, changeable project, with no overall written plan. Dickens was always keen to respond to his public’s reactions, changing various aspects as he wrote his current serial. Perhaps he was leaving it open here too. We have a myriad of clues, but will never actually know. His friend Wilkie Collins refused an offer to complete the novel, calling it, “the melancholy work of a worn-out brain”. Critics down the ages remain fascinated with the book, and disagree with this unfair assertion. There are at least 36 separate completions and sequels so far. Speculations about the mystery will no doubt continue for many years to come.

“I call my book the Mystery, not the History, of Edwin Drood”.

Touché, Dickens.
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,566 reviews56.6k followers
July 10, 2020
The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Charles Dickens

The Mystery of Edwin Drood is the final novel by Charles Dickens. originally published in 1870. Though the novel is named after the character Edwin Drood, it focuses more on Drood's uncle, John Jasper, a precentor, choirmaster and opium addict, who is in love with his pupil, Rosa Bud.

Miss Bud, Edwin Drood's fiancée, has also caught the eye of the high-spirited and hot-tempered Neville Landless. Landless and Edwin Drood take an instant dislike to one another. Later Drood disappears under mysterious circumstances.

تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز هجدهم ماه فوریه سال 2018 میلادی

عنوان: معمای ادوین درود (رمان ناتمام:) یا «اسرار ادوین درود»؛ نویسنده: چارلز دیکنز؛ مترجم: فریده تیموری؛ تهران، دبیر، 1396؛ در 352ص؛ شابک: 9789651284304؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان انگلیسی - سده 19م

گرچه عنوان رمان «را�� ادوین درود» است، اما داستان درباره ی عموی ایشان، رهبر همسرایان است؛ مردی معتاد به تریاک به نام «جان یاسپر» که عاشق یکی از شاگردانش به نام «رزا باد» میشود؛

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 19/04/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for James.
Author 19 books3,575 followers
April 8, 2019
From time to time, I like to revisit the classics. In 1870, Charles Dickens died from a stroke in the middle of writing The Mystery of Edwin Drood. The book was never finished, and there weren't a lot of details in any notes or conversations for anyone to fully know his intentions for the ending. Readers were left with an open-ended story and have to decide for themselves. Years ago, the book was converted to a script and performed on Broadway. I meant to buy tickets but got distracted and never attended the show. A friend of mine, Medhat, had it on his list to read, so we decided to share a buddy read again this month.

The classics can be absolutely amazing and utterly dull. I was a literature major and have read hundreds of them, so I am allowed to admit it. LOL In truth, I will always find something I like about a book... and that was my approach to this novel. I adored Great Expectations and A Christmas Carol, which gave me a good feeling about this one since I also adore mysteries. Unfortunately, it didn't register very high and left me slightly bewildered. Not because of the lack of a conclusion, but due to the style it was written in.

At many points, I saw where Agatha Christie might have gotten some inspiration. I also liked how the story unraveled various plots with scenes that, as isolated events, were quite strong. Unfortunately, too many characters were introduced in odd ways with different names (not because it was a draft work but because people had nicknames or alternative ways of referring to people they didn't actually know in person). One of the other areas that bugged me a bit was the difference in Dickens' style in this book. I slipped back into 19th century dialog and prose, but there was an excess of description at times when it wasn't necessary. It slowed the story to the point I had to put it down and come back just to give myself a break.

That said, it was written well in terms of language and vision. I could tell where Dickens was going with the story, and maybe if I hadn't read over 500 other mystery books in the last decade, I might have been more intrigued. I recognize why he was a great writer, and I applaud many of the sections that clearly showed his prowess (the hidden words when Jasper was trying to find out who killed Drood, the appearance in the last available chapter of a character we didn't expect to see, the way in which a man expressed his love for a woman he was attracted to).

Considering all these things, I end up at an average 3 stars on this one. I wouldn't recommend it for anyone who wants to start a Dickens' novel, and I wouldn't rate it high for cleverness in a mystery (accounting for its lack of an ending). I would suggest that it could help writers understand when and how to deliver emotion and subtlety in a scene. I'd also highlight the strong ability the author has to transport you to a physical setting. I'm looking forward to Medhat's review this week!
Profile Image for Luís.
1,861 reviews519 followers
April 20, 2023
I enjoyed reading this very classic English-style novel. Unfortunately, the author died before finishing it, so a more contemporary author invented the ending here. Therefore, we will never know if it corresponds in any way to that imagined himself by Dickens.
We are immersed in a small episcopal town where all the protagonists know each other; they are either priests or choirmasters, canon, sacristans, cemetery keepers, and tutors of a such or such young orphan.
Edwin Drood is a young man on the verge of formalizing his marriage to a young orphan living at the neighboring convent when he suddenly disappears on Christmas Eve.
The novel is bathed in an atmosphere of suspicion towards everyone, just as there is perpetual fog and mists above this small town where others explore everyone's secrets.
The ending here seemed credible and logical and remained in the novel's spirit.
Profile Image for MJ Nicholls.
2,023 reviews4,066 followers
November 6, 2012
An incomplete Dickens novel is like a half-finished jigsaw. How do you rate a half-finished jigsaw? This fragment, being Dickens, actually comprises about 1.5/3 of the intended work, but still isn’t enough to want to invest oneself emotionally and intellectually in the characters and plot happenings (for me, anyway). In this instance, it may be wiser to skip the book and head straight for the recent BBC adaptation (much as it pains me to recommend TV over text). Still: not without its usual charms and flourishes, howevs. Now I have reached the end of my serialised Dickens quest, let me now pointlessly rate the works from favourite to not:

1—Little Dorrit. Sumptuous, heartbreaking . . . not an unmemorable moment.
2—Our Mutual Friend. Melancholy, dark, haunting and murderous.
3—David Copperfield. The reason first-person narratives are no longer required.
4—Nicholas Nickleby. Extremely funny, rollicking picaresque-esque number.
5—A Tale of Two Cities. Exceptionally moving and bloodthirsty historical novel.
6—Oliver Twist. Captivating child protagonist, fabulously vicious twists.
7—The Pickwick Papers. Dickens does straight comedy to much merriment.
8—The Old Curiosity Shop. Scariest villain and cutest child fatality.
9—Bleak House. Complex, powerful and yes, a wee bit overlong in places(!)
10—Martin Chuzzlewit. His second best comedy, starring the brilliant Pecksniff.
11—Dombey and Son. Extremely tense, extremely meandering. But good.
12—Barnaby Rudge. Satire and history together in a messy, bloody epic, with parrots.
13—Great Expectations. Beautiful childhood reflections, less successful in adulthood.
14—Hard Times. Sublime character Gradgrind in choppy, hectoring effort.
15—The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Unfinished.
Profile Image for Simona B.
892 reviews2,985 followers
December 9, 2017
REREAD 12/2017: Seriously, there are so many clues in here. My head hurts. Happily, though.


“And yet there are such unexplored romantic nooks in the unlikeliest men, that even old tinderous and touchwoody P. J. T. Possibly Jabbered Thus, at some odd times, in or about seventeen-forty-seven.”

The Mystery of Edwin Drood is contained in a book I'm currently reading in Italian, namely La verità sul caso D. (in English The D. Case or The Truth About the Mystery of Edwin Drood) by Fruttero and Lucentini, therefore I thought it was the perfect occasion for me to read Dickens's last and unfinished work in its original language as well.

It's unfinished, yes; but is it my fault if this man possesses this uncanny ability to make me fall in love with even half a story and half a crime?

Mr Jasper and Mr Grewgious are two unforgettable characters, each of them for his own reasons. The latter, especially, is one of those characters you can't help but being grateful to have met. And Jasper, well, he has so many faces that 150 years have passed by, and we still haven't got the hang of him; besides, he is vicious and eerie all you want, but he does know his way with words. (Up to a point; someone should tell him that when you declare yourself you usually stop before the threats. But don't tell me his “I loved you madly” speech didn't make you swoon a little ad shiver -for several reasons- a lot. You totally know what I mean.)
Profile Image for Glenn Sumi.
404 reviews1,532 followers
August 21, 2017
More like 3.5 stars, but having read many Dickens novels, this isn't one of his best.... so I'm rounding down to 3

I came to The Mystery Of Edwin Drood, Dickens’s last and unfinished novel, by chance.

Earlier this year I’d read The Last Dickens, Matthew Pearl’s novel about the mystery surrounding Dickens’s final book. Pearl’s literary thriller involved murder, opium addiction, autobiographical elements about Dickens’s American speaking tour and affairs, international publishing rights, “bookaneers” (look up the term – I’d never heard it before). Fascinating stuff.

So I thought I’d track down the source material. I was also familiar with the musical based on Dickens’s book – the one in which the audience votes on the show’s outcome. I saw it in its most recent Broadway revival and quite enjoyed it.

The book itself, alas, isn’t first-rate Chuck D. One of the main problems is the central character, Edwin, who’s a bit of a cipher. Edwin is engaged to his childhood sweetheart, Rosa Bud, who, like him, is an orphan. Edwin doesn’t have much ambition or personality. Edwin and Rosa aren’t terribly passionate about each other. In fact, they’re more like siblings.

Edwin’s uncle, John Jasper, is a much more compelling figure. Besides being an opium addict (and some of the early scenes set in opium dens positively ooze with atmosphere), the haunted, lecherous and terribly unhappy Jasper is also the choirmaster at Cloisterham Cathedral. In his spare time he acts as Rosa's music master, but it soon becomes clear that he’d like to do more to the girl than just teach her music.

Two twins from Ceylon, Neville and Helena Landless, also arrive in town. Helena befriends Rosa, and her brother Neville is smitten with her. Neville and Edwin get into a fight that was too subtle for me to really comprehend.

Soon, during a requisite dark and stormy night, Edwin disappears. Was he murdered? If so, who did it? Neville, having fought him, is under suspicion, and Jasper seems happy to point the finger at him. Or... does Edwin disappear only to reappear later in disguise? (A couple of characters mysteriously do indeed show up midway through the book.) We’ll never know.

Dickens plants lots of details that would likely have popped up later in the unraveling of the mystery: a ring, a walking stick, a black scarf…

But a lot of the writing feels laboured, particularly involving minor characters. And it’s a big problem when you don’t feel anything when your “hero” disappears.

Still, Dickens was a marvelous plotter, and it’s unfair to comment on the book without knowing what he intended.

If anything, this book makes me want to go back to Dickens’s other books. I’ve read the biggies (Great Expectations, David Copperfield, Bleak House, Oliver Twist), but there are still many left.

Apparently this book was Dickens’s attempt to write in the mystery genre that his friend, Wilkie Collins, had mastered. So perhaps it’s about time I read Collins’s books like The Woman In White and The Moonstone. I've been meaning to anyway.
Profile Image for Nancy Oakes.
1,922 reviews733 followers
February 1, 2009
I knew at the outset that Dickens died before he had the chance to finish this novel, but I didn't realize how incredibly frustrated I was going to be because of it! It seems that he was just getting somewhere, and that there was going to be some climactic action coming up shortly, and then poof. No more book. But on the other hand, it was so good getting to that point, and as noted, I am aware that The Mystery of Edwin Drood was unfinished, so I can't say that I was all that frustrated, really. It's the getting to the end (or the leave-off point) that mattered, and it was a great ride.

I won't go over the story/plot here; it is very well known. Movies have been made; I believe there was a stage production or two as well, and there are (as I saw written somewhere) entire websites and pundits devoted to solving the mystery and playing "what-if" in an effort to provide an ending.

This edition has a preface by Peter Ackroyd, a Dickens biographer, and an appendix by GK Chesterton. Chesterton provides several theories about what may have followed if Dickens had been alive to finish his work.

One more thing: I read this on the heels of Dan Simmons' most excellent novel "Drood," and it puts a lot into perspective.

I would definitely recommend it -- if you MUST have an ending, then don't read it, but as I said above...the getting there is most of the fun. Most excellent.
Profile Image for [ J o ].
1,938 reviews428 followers
March 31, 2019
In cloisteresque Cloisterham, John 'Jack' Jasper lives with his ward and nephew, Mister Edwin Drood, and teaches music to Drood's own betrothed-the beguiling Rosa. Meanwhile, arriving at Cloisterham, the Landless twins, Neville and Helena of exotic advantage, cause a disruption to the quiet and monotonous lives of those in this Cathedral City.

Charles Dickens died before he could finish this novel. He wrote twenty-three chapters, each one carefully planned and written before giving it to be published in serial format, as were all his others. The Mystery of Edwin Drood is indeed probably the greatest mystery of all, and we as readers and fans of Dickens must accept the fact.

It's a hard fact to accept, however. I cannot fully understand this feeling within me; not one I've felt after finishing (in-as-much as one can finish this book) any book, or at leastvery few books. There is the obvious adoration for such a talented and captivating writer; there is the subdued anger that often Dickens can write so magnificently about nothing; there is the dismay at the knowledge that I knew it was unfinished when I went in; and of course there is the embarrassment of feeling let down despite of that fact.

What more can I say? It is Dickens. Do not start with this if you are new to him: but do not end with it, either. It may have been his last, but do not let it be yours.

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Profile Image for Annelies.
161 reviews3 followers
December 24, 2017
Another lovely Dickens, though unfinished. His style is grandiose. He really mastered it in this unfinished book. The irony is to the point. His characterisation is superb... What to say more of a wonderful piece of writing by so great an author... Minor point ... unfinished?
Profile Image for James.
425 reviews
September 16, 2015
What a great book - and what a great shame for us (and him!) that Dickens never lived to complete it. Despite all the suggested answers to 'the mystery' and all the desperate attempts to 'complete' this novel - we will never know...what came next....

The version I read has the transcript of a 'trail' held in London / Covent Garden in 1914 to attempt to establish to guilt or otherwise of the main suspect - quite rightly, the 'judge' (G K Chesterton) ruled, after a long long hearing that all were in contempt of court and sentenced to prison! A similar attempt was also made thereafter in America I believe? All very entertaining - but ultimately futile.

Definitely worth a read.
Profile Image for Yani.
414 reviews179 followers
December 28, 2016
Otra vez me veo en la tarea de reseñar libros inconclusos sin ser muy específica y, a la vez, sintiéndome ridícula por no serlo. El misterio de Edwin Drood tuvo la mala suerte de quedar trunco por el fallecimiento de Dickens, a pesar de que luego muchos aventuraron el nombre del asesino (¡imposible no hacerlo!). Dickens dejó justo ese espacio para rellenar, en la parte en donde todo parece encaminarse hacia el nombre del culpable y después… el abismo. No hay nada. En esta edición, al menos, añadieron una nota en donde exponen las conjeturas de los críticos. No sabría decir qué tan útil puede llegar a ser aunque tiene un par de teorías interesantes porque están basadas en detalles que Dickens tenía anotados (obviamente, él ya tenía pensado todo). Y hablando del libro en concreto: podría haber sido una muy buena novela policial, en donde tal vez se vean los hilos desde el principio y eso haga quejarse al lector, pero que plantea las cosas de modo diferente.

La historia se centra en John “Jack” Jasper, un cantante de la catedral de Cloisterham, una ciudad cuyo nombre está inventado, que tendrá como visita a su sobrino Edwin Drood. Este joven está comprometido por un acuerdo entre otras personas con una chica, Rosa Bud. A la vez, esta muchacha es pupila de Jasper, quien le da clases de piano. Cuando llegan dos misteriosos hermanos (Neville y Helena Landless) a la ciudad, las cosas empiezan a tomar forma y las relaciones entre ellos no serán iguales.

Y un día Edwin desaparece, no se halla su cadáver y sólo se encuentra su reloj. El móvil que se esgrime para acusar a los sospechosos es un poco infantil y no me lo creí del todo, a pesar de que esas situaciones sigan dándose en la época actual. Es decir, no me pareció que tuviera fuerza suficiente. Sin embargo, Dickens creó a un personaje lo suficientemente perverso (no revelo el nombre para no arruinar nada) como para que una niñería pasara a ser algo demasiado serio. Dickens puede usar todos los deus ex machina que quiera y hacer aparecer personajes de la nada, pero lo arregla con una sola cosa: sabe contar el cuento. Las descripciones largas no están en vano y no cansan, ya que son muy bonitas de leer. Los narradores de sus historias son mis preferidos porque tienen sangre en las letras (¿?) y denuncian, ironizan, ridiculizan. Puede que los libros sean larguísimos en su mayoría, pero los devoro como si constaran de 15 hojas. Y digo todo esto porque El misterio… no es la excepción. Si bien le pueden faltar arreglos (seguramente que sí) y el aclamado final, la historia engancha. Sí es cierto que desconcierta con capítulos que parecen estar por fuera del eje… y en realidad no lo están, mucho menos en una novela policial.

¿Por qué me pareció un policial diferente? Porque no hay un detective y no hay un curso normal en la investigación del crimen. Esta novela no se asienta en el trabajo de las autoridades, prácticamente, si no en la de personas particulares y existe un entretenido desorden en ello. El asunto se complica cuando alguien da vuelta el tablero (y me sorprendió) y la trama se empieza a mover con más rapidez. Debido a esto, los personajes deben tomar decisiones y ven sus vidas afectadas por la desaparición de Edwin, de un modo u otro.

Los personajes están bien y pueden sonar un poco típicos. La muchacha abnegada, el muchacho arrogante, el hombre bondadoso pero solitario, el lobo con piel de cordero, el desconocido que llega al pueblo. Lo bueno es que todos cumplen un rol y algunos me hicieron cambiar la opinión que tenía de ellos en medio del libro, así que funcionó que tomaran resoluciones tan bruscas (otra cosa a la que estoy acostumbrada).

En fin, no quiero seguir hablando para que no se escape nada comprometido del argumento. Leer un libro inacabado es extraño: a mí me dio lástima porque me estaba gustando mucho y se corta en un momento que ni siquiera es parte del clímax. Es una escena común y corriente (y esto no es spoiler, obvio). Así que siempre hay que decidir si vale la pena hacerlo porque puede dar la sensación de estar perdiendo el tiempo en una historia que no cierra, salvo gracias al lector que desea completarla. Lo tomé como un juego, aunque sea frustrante.
Profile Image for Dimitri.
111 reviews73 followers
May 15, 2018
La scomparsa del giovane Edwin rimarrà per sempre un mistero perché Charles Dickens è scomparso lasciando incompiuto questo romanzo cupo e fumoso, illuminato da situazioni comiche, ambientato nella città inventata di Cloisterham, tra cattedrali, cripte, cimiteri, collegi per signorine, lussuosi palazzi e quartieri malfamati. Mentre si può intuire come avrebbe potuto concludersi, la storia si gusta soprattutto per la maestria di Dickens nel creare i personaggi e nel scegliere i loro nomi: l’inquietante e doppio John Jasper, un po’ Jekyll un po’ Hyde, di giorno irreprensibile maestro del coro, di notte oppiomane; la bellissima e infantile Rosa; l’impulsivo Neville Landless e sua sorella Helena, dal luminoso volto zingaresco; il reverendo Septimus Crisparkle; l’ubriacone Durdles; l’ex marinaio Tartar, creatore di giardini sospesi.

A tratti melodrammatico, molto spesso ironico, Dickens mi ha divertito soprattutto quando descrive i personaggi più anziani. Il sindaco Sapsea, ad esempio. Qualora si assuma l’asino a tipico esempio di compiaciuta stupidità e presunzione – una consuetudine, forse, come alcune altre, più convenzionale che corretta – allora il più genuino asino di Cloisterham è Thomas Sapsea.
Oppure l’agguerrito filantropo Honeythunder, la cui filantropia era di quel genere bellicoso che rendeva difficile distinguerla dall’animosità. Honeythunder camminava in mezzo alla strada, facendosi largo tra gli indigeni a spallate, e sviluppando a voce alta un suo piano per catturare tutti i disoccupati del Regno Unito, cacciandoli uno dopo l’altro in galera e costringendoli, pena l’immediato sterminio, a diventare filantropi. Perché, secondo Dickens, Filantropi Professanti e Pugili presentavano somiglianze stupefacenti nella conformazione frenologica della nuca: quanto allo sviluppo degli organi che formano o accompagnano l’inclinazione ad attaccare a testa bassa il prossimo, i Filantropi erano decisamente favoriti.

Ma il mio preferito è Hiram Grewgious, goffo e amabile tutore della bella Rosa, molto meno ingenuo di quanto appaia. Ogni suo gesto e ogni sua parola sono puro divertimento.

“Da quelle parti ci sono stato di recente” disse Grewgious a Edwin, “mi riferivo a questo dicendo di essere certo che eravate atteso.”
“Davvero, signore! Sì, lo sapevo che Pussy stava di vedetta in attesa del mio arrivo.”
“Avete un gatto laggiù?” chiese Grewgious.
Edwin arrossì lievemente, spiegando: “Rosa la chiamo Pussy”.
“Ma davvero”, disse Grewgious, lisciandosi la testa; “che carino”.
Edwin lo guardò, incerto se avesse serie obiezioni sull’appellativo. Ma tanto valeva che guardasse il quadrante di un orologio.

Profile Image for Tristram Shandy.
699 reviews200 followers
December 8, 2017
Frustration or Fascination?

Reading Dickens’s last novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood can be a source of both frustration and fascination, for the one reason that is far more easily explained than borne – that Dickens died while he was midway in writing the story and that he did not leave any notes allowing us to draw conclusions as to how the mystery of Edwin Drood’s disappearance – we do not even know for sure that he has been killed – will be cleared up.

The story in a nutshell: We have a young, rather happy-go-lucky, man by the name of Edwin Drood, who has been brought up in the certainty of one day marrying his deceased father’s friend’s only daughter, Rosa Bud, and who therefore never really wasted a thought on the question if he is really and truly in love with her or not. His and Rosa’s fathers wished for that connection in their last wills – without making it the condition of either of the two young people coming into their property –, and after all, Rosa is a pleasant enough young lady. Edwin’s uncle, the Cloisterham choir master John Jasper, loves his nephew dearly, but we soon realize that he, too, has his eye on Rosa, whom he teaches in matters musical. Jasper is not much older than Edwin, but a rather jaded man, because in his heart of hearts he believes that he buried his talents in Cloisterham and that his life has no very special purpose – but then he also thinks it can no longer be helped. Trying to forget his frustration by taking drugs, he has started leading a double-life, being both a respected denizen of Cloisterham and an opium-smoker in London, and somehow his hidden addiction and his secret love for Rosa have helped unhinge his personality in that for all his attachment to Edwin, he also bears the young man a grudge for his connection with Rosa. When Neville Landless and his sister Helena arrive in Cloisterham, Jasper perceives that Neville, too, feels attracted to Rosa and despises Edwin for thoughtlessly taking for granted what he, Neville, himself would regard the source of his ever-lasting happiness and pride, and he cunningly sets the two young men against each other. Consequently, when Edwin suddenly disappears without any trace but a few personal belongings found in a river, public suspicion will centre on Neville, all the more so since Jasper has taken care of bringing the clash between the two hotspurs to public notice.

Is it not frustrating and pointless to read a mystery novel the end of which we will never know? It may be so to you unless you are able to enjoy the opportunity of entering into a very close reading of this intriguing text. Practically all the hints we get seem to point in the direction of Jasper as the murderer of his relative, but then the book stops in its very middle, and it seems quite unlikely for the solution to be so near at hand. Dickens was renowned for drawing the most wondrous rabbits in the form of surprising background stories out of his hat in the last third of his later novels, and he would probably also have done this in the case of The Mystery of Edwin Drood – so much so that the rabbits, in this case, might have had the size of wombats or little elephants. Jasper does not let the grass grow under his feet but quickly proposes to Rosa, linking his offer of himself with a mean attempt at moral blackmail, and he seems to exert some kind of mesmeric power over Rosa - Dickens himself was interested in mesmerism - and to manipulate his fellow-men with spiked drinks but still, he is such an obvious suspect that by the rules of the genre, it would be very disappointing indeed if he proved to be the villain in question.

But then we must ask ourselves whether Dickens really wanted to join his friend Collin’s bandwagon and write an out-and-out mystery novel, or whether his main interest did not rather lie in fathoming the depths of his character John Jasper, who is the Satanic figure of the novel and shows the potential of a new, more ambivalent Dickensian villain. As my Goodreads friend Peter pointed out, Jasper evokes associations with no lesser work than Paradise Lost: He regards Cloisterham as his personal hell, his artful machinations fuel people’s basest instincts, in the masterly chapter “Shadow on the Sun-Dial”, he mirrors Satan’s doings in the Garden of Eden, and he even quotes from Milton’s masterpiece, turning the hopeful phrase “The World was all before them, where to chose / Their place of rest” from the last book into an underhanded taunt to arouse Neville’s ire and jealousy against Edwin. Dickens may have thought that the potential of this villain Jasper, his inner, schizophrenic, dichotomy of good and evil held so much interest and promise that it would have been worthwhile to sacrifice the coup de théâtre of a mystery novel in order to grant it full swerve. His treatment of Bradley Headstone in Our Mutual Friend shows that he was striking new artistic paths.

On the other hand, how can you explain the stonemason Durdles’s account of “the ghost of a cry” he heard the previous Christmas and Jasper’s dismayed reaction to this tale unless you assume that Dickens was about to unfold a surprising background story in the second half of the book. Maybe, this story would also have shed some more light on the lives of some of the parents, whom we hear about solely through their children, Edwin, Rosa, and the Landlesses?

Be that as it may, I felt a lot more fascination than frustration when reading this novel, due to the fact that the absence of a clear solution induced me to pay vivid attention to every little detail of the story, much more so than I usually do when reading a mystery. And then I console myself by thinking that the Great Library in Heaven – there simply has to be one, after all, or it wouldn’t be Heaven – must surely have the missing second part of The Mystery of Edwin Drood, leather-bound and with a ribbon page marker, and, what’s more, written by the Inimitable himself, ready for me to peruse one day. Hoping that much, I also hope that in case I will have, through some error, of course, to go to that other, less well-air-conditioned place, there will be a reliable interlibrary loan system.
Profile Image for Jessica.
Author 31 books5,632 followers
June 1, 2022
Charles Dickens died LITERALLY in the middle of this book, leaving the world with a mystery of its own: was Edwin Drood dead, and if so, whodunit? The writing throughout is some of his finest, with his usual mix of characters humorous, lovable, and despicable. And he's added some really salacious elements in the form of an opium addict living a respectable life by day, not to mention his opium dealer . . . and of course there's the murder. There are also TWO intersecting love triangles, and now we will NEVER KNOW.

Unless, of course Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was telling the truth when he said that he had contacted Dickens' ghost, and the ghost told him to write the ending with Sherlock Holmes solving the crime . . . which, you know what, just bless your heart, Sir Arthur.

This also completes my Dickens reading challenge, to read all his novels in chronological order! And I finished just before the anniversary of his death (completely by accident)! A long project, but ABSOLUTELY WORTH IT.
Profile Image for Faith.
1,846 reviews516 followers
July 14, 2020
A few years ago I saw a musical based on this story. The audience selected a different “murderer” at each performance and it was much more charming and fun than the book. Although there were some amusing passages, I found most of the book tedious. The fact that it was unfinished was the thing that interested me most about the book.
Profile Image for Vanessa Wu.
Author 18 books197 followers
March 6, 2012
I don't know what made me buy this book and start reading it. The first few pages were torture. I knew the novel was unfinished. At least it would be short. But why even bother at all?

Then gradually there appeared light in the murk. Uncle and nephew, Jack and Eddy, got out their nuts and started to talk about Pussy.

No one does dialogue like Dickens. It is crisp, clear, entertaining and lifelike. Even the way the men crack their nuts adds to the drama.

Dickens is completely unafraid of sentiment. He allows the two men to be as affectionate with each other as two lovers.

When Pussy comes into the story it gets even better. Everyone is in love with her. It's sickening but it's also exciting. I love this kind of melodrama.

The way John Jasper stares at Pussy when she is playing the piano is fantastic. You remember it throughout all that follows and so does she. She especially remembers it many months later in Chapter 19 when John/Jack is staring at her again, dressed in mourning for the missing Eddy.

At times Dickens can be so verbose that it's hard to catch his meaning but when he is describing passion his sentences are models of clarity. This chapter is called Shadow in the Sundial and the image, like so much that Dickens writes, sticks forever in your mind:

This time he does not touch her. But his face looks so wicked and menacing, as he stands leaning against the sundial – setting, as it were, his black mark upon the very face of day – that her flight is arrested by horror as she looks at him.

What makes Dickens's writing so thrilling is that he captures the passion of the moment in the very rhythm of his sentences. He isn't afraid of dramatic gestures.

"There is my fidelity to my dear boy after death. Tread upon it!"

With an action of his hands, as though he cast down something precious.

"There is the inexpiable offence against my adoration of you. Spurn it!"

With a similar action.

"There are my labours in the cause of a just vengeance for six toiling months. Crush them!"

The scene builds and builds like a symphonic poem till Pussy rushes away to her room and faints half way up the stairs.

There is a masterful touch at the end:

A thunderstorm is coming on, the maids say, and the hot and stifling air has overset the pretty dear; no wonder; they have felt their own knees all of a tremble all day long.

My knees were also all of a tremble and my heart all of a flutter while I read, and read, and read.

Two semi-colons in a single sentence, by the way! There is a man who is not afraid to flout convention.

The ending is, of course, abrupt and dizzying. It leaves you tottering on the edge of a precipice. My imagination was teeming with possibilities. I read a few theories about how the story might have been meant to go on but I wasn't satisfied by any of them. I couldn't help feeling that Dickens's imagination was just too ingenious, too inventive and too mischievous to be pinned down by even the most creative of scholars.

So for stimulating my imagination, this was the best book by far that I have read this year.
Profile Image for Tijana.
734 reviews191 followers
July 29, 2019
Ovako. Da, roman je nedovršen tj. autor je umro negde na pola planiranog teksta. Ne, nije nikakva misterija ko je ubio Edvina Druda. Dikens je u svom najboljem maniru uradio sve osim postavljanja crvenih strelica s natpisom "ovo je ubica, on ga je ubio!!!111". Imamo sasvim dovoljno nagoveštaja i o tome kako i čime i šta je posle ubica uradio s lešom. Imamo i solidan broj nagoveštaja o tome ko ga sumnjiči i koji će svedoci/svedočanstva na kraju da mu dođu glave. Utoliko svaki potencijalni čitalac može da bude miran. (Lično smatram i da je jednako jasno nagovešteno ko će da se uzme na kraju, ali okej, recimo da je to manje bitno.)
Ključno je što zapravo nikad nećemo saznati za šta smo tačno zakinuti. Jeste da gotovo sve razvojne linije zapleta možemo da projektujemo do nekog verovatnog raspleta, ali kod Dikensa je ionako uvek poenta bila u likovima i u pripovedačkom glasu a ne u nekom strogom logičkom razvoju događaja ili teatralnim romantičarskim preokretima (iako ih ima na kilo; "Luk, ja sam ti otac" je naivno jednostavno u poređenju sa otkrovenjima iz npr. Dombija i sina ili Sumorne kuće). Recimo, ja bih komotno čitala još stotinak strana samo o g. Grewgiousu koji sebe stalno zove "uglastim čovekom" i "iverom" ("I was a chip—and a very dry one— when I first became aware of myself") a zapravo je duša jedna od čoveka. Ili, Dikens ovde pokušava da pruži jedno malčice profilisanije nevoljno udvaranje&sporazumni raskid veridbe bez zle krvi, što se po knjigama dosta retko nalazi i danas a kamoli tada - bilo bi zanimljivo videti kako se dalje razvija taj konkretni ženski lik i šta se s njim desilo. I tako dalje. Ne preporučujem onima koji slabo podnose frustraciju :D Ali glas pripovedača je Dikens u punoj snazi svojih retoričkih moći, pa ko to voli (ja volim!) neka se slobodno ohrabri i eventualno drži u pripravnosti neku od filmskih/TV adaptacija* u kojima su docrtali kraj.

* Ali ne Druda od Dena Simonsa, za sada sam na trećini i moram reći da em je Simons ovde definitivno u svojoj poznoj stvaralačkoj dosadnoj fazi em ljubiteljima Vilkija Kolinsa (=meni) može da ispadne poneka plomba od škripanja zubima.
Profile Image for Alan.
Author 6 books296 followers
July 2, 2021
Dickens begins Drood with a notable variation on the rhetoric of, say, "Fog Everywhere..." in Bleak House. "Then follow white elephants caparisoned..." is a fantastic portrayal, avowed to be an invasion of a fantastic consciousness. Dickens' prior intimacy with his characters has been limited to the "I" narrative, his portrayal of other characters depending largely on his command of their words in dialog and his descriptive rhetoric in landscaping the situation. The author ruptures narrative distance in this one paragraph; his accomplishment challenges the adequacy of Dickens' previous novelistic art.

For the first time Dickens presents a preliterate consciousness, a consciousness in a fantastic perceptual state, as Hanry James will later do with normal conceptual "impressions" as well, and Faulkner of course will build whole novels like The Sound and the Fury on. Faulkner, though, was not elucidating, as Dickens here, the 19th C OPIOID Crisis, namely: opium.

In Dickens the preliterate consciousness is distorted by a material catalyst, leading to what the character finds "unintelligible." In our 21st C US, tea-totalling politicians produce unintelligiblity on a daily basis.
On the other hand, is there a more amusing Dickensian character than Mr Honeythunder? Or more Dickensian names than Durdles, Grewgious, Drood? Mr Jasper is the problem, or precipitates it. Dickens' intimacy with his character goes beyond Jasper's articulate consciousness, into preliterate "impressions" as H James would call them. Dickens' world creates a unity of self, language and action within a character which become unity of social position, morality and happiness in the finished (or ended) novel.
Here Dickens has created a character, the drugged Jasper, in whom his public moral system as well as his public language holds no claim.
Profile Image for Medhat The Fanatic Reader.
331 reviews109 followers
April 16, 2019
With words filled with utmost wit and dark humor, Charles Dickens has created an atmospheric gothic tale that creeps into love and jealousy & hatred and envy.

This is the first time I get into Dickens, and while I faced some minor issues with this book, I cannot wait to go back into the magical words of this brilliant writer.

As some are unaware of, The Mystery of Edwin Drood is Dickens' last and unfinished work. With the lack of notes about how the novel ends, we are left with our imagination to interpret of what became of Edwin Drood--even though we have a pretty good idea of his fate, what, and why; but still we don't know the full story--and the rest of the characters.

The writing is superbly done and rich with descriptions that I couldn't get enough of. I felt that I was there among these characters, watching and observing behind their shoulders what was happening, what was being said and done, hearing the bells of the cathedral and the voices of the choir . . . and feeling the chill air and the thick mist rooming around the streets. This made me feel as if the town had its own character and dark nature.

As for characters,

Edwin and John Jasper were my favorites to read about. Edwin is very witty, cynical, arrogant and self-confident, while Jasper (his uncle) is very much the opposite, especially as we learn about his jealousy and dark nature.

Edwin's fiancée since children, by an agreement between Edwin's father and hers, Rosa, was my least favorite character; she is extremely annoying and lame for most of this unfinished story, although I loved how strong and independent she was.

As for the rest of secondary cast of characters, they were unique in how they think and act, and I thoroughly enjoyed their chapters.

Although I loved almost all of The Mystery of Edwin Drood, I faced some issues with how sometimes Dickens cannot always know how to finish his train of thoughts or get into the point and the story started to become less-interesting from page 210 till 230, until it picked-up the pace to its usual brilliance.

Lastly, this was a fun and enjoyable read and I am very happy for buddy-reading it with my great friend James, with whom it's a pleasure and fun to do this kind of activity.

Looking forward to discussing the book with you James!

Profile Image for Simona B.
892 reviews2,985 followers
March 27, 2018
I'm starting to feel it's a little unfair of me to rate these aspiring conclusions to The Mystery of Edwin Drood, because I've known for a while now that none of them will be quite there. Leon Garfield's has the merit of being not boring and probably close in plot to what the original would have been. Anyway, it's still extremely fascinating to see how different authors have reimagined the same story.
Profile Image for Dana-Adriana B..
641 reviews267 followers
October 10, 2022
Pe tot parcursul lecturii m-am simtit ca si cum urmaresc o piesa de teatru, ceea ce a fost o incantare.
Ed Drood edte pe cale sa se casatoreasca cu Rose , casatorie pusa la cale de parintii acestora. Dar, cei doi nu sunt de acord cu aveasta alegere si hotarasc sa continue ca frate si sora. Inainte sa se afle decizia lor, Ed dispare iar cei din anturaj cred cu tarie ca a fost ucis de tanarul Landless (un nume interesant pt un personaj interesant), aparut in comunitatea prezentata in carte.
Desi ju este o concluzie a intamplarii, cartea este frumos scrisa si mi-a placut misterul.
Profile Image for Michael.
265 reviews24 followers
December 24, 2022
This was the only Dickens novel that I had not read. I was always reluctant to read it, fearing that I would get to the last page and be left dangling. And that is exactly what occurs at the end of chapter twenty-three. Still, what was presented was pure Dickens and a pleasure to read, especially around the Christmas holiday. I guess I am now a Dickens completist and, as such, I am now tempted to go back and read "The Pickwick Papers" which was the very first Dickens novel I read. Cheers!
Profile Image for Nancy.
388 reviews59 followers
March 13, 2019
Deliciously creepy and funny in turn, with a pervasive and palpable sense of foreboding. I'd have liked more, but in a perverse way it might be less intriguing if everything were neatly tied up.
Profile Image for J.M. Hushour.
Author 8 books200 followers
June 26, 2020
Dickens is a treasure, but he does have his misses. I think especially of the abysmal The Old Curiosity Shoppe or the hellish, grating Barnaby Rudge. Unfortunately this, his final and thankfully incomplete novel, falls solidly in the 'miss' category. Dickens is a master of language, but has an occasional tendency to become overwrought and lost in his own fancy of language, something that happens here throughout. The bland characters are all stock Dickens types and the real mystery is how could no one not guess what the outcome would be? Would orphaned twins fall in love with the betrothed couple, matrimonied before their birth, against their will?
Standard schlock that goes against the Dickensian-type, in my opinion. The just-fine Our Mutual Friend stands as a far greater testament to his genius than this poor offering.
Profile Image for Kyle.
121 reviews202 followers
May 14, 2013
I only partially like Dickens, so in my continuing effort to change my ways regarding Mr. Charles, I thought I would read a Dickens book that was only partially finished.

Turns out that idea actually is as bad as it sounds.

I don't really feel like writing a more involved review, so I'll keep it short and sweet: If you already like Charles Dickens, you'll probably like this book (though likely not as much as his other, more complete, work). If you're like me and are largely ambivalent towards Charles Dickens, then you will likely hold this book in a similar regard (only less so).

Profile Image for Sara Jesus.
1,149 reviews103 followers
April 30, 2022
É um mistério que permanece até ao fim, um livro que nos assombra até ao fim dos dias. É nos dado grandes possíveis pistas sobre o criminoso, mas o que de facto aconteceu à Edwin Drood? Morto ou desaparecido! É quem é Datchery?
O livro termina quando o criminoso seria descoberto. Não apenas o crime ficou por resolver. Também o destino de determinadas personagens como a adorada Rosa, a sua amiga Helena e o seu admirador Neville.
Infelizmente nunca iremos ter os enigmas revelados, Dickens morreu levando este derradeiro mistério do seu romance policial.
Profile Image for pierlapo quimby.
501 reviews30 followers
November 20, 2019
Per mio costume non giudico un romanzo incompiuto e le cinque stelle le prende sulla fiducia, anche per quell'anima malata e disturbante che serpeggia tra le pagine, molto più di Casa Desolata, a conferma che l'ultima produzione dickensiana si muoveva verso territori più oscuri e fascinosi e chissà fin dove si sarebbe spinta.
Però due cose vorrei dirle su questa edizione Utet.
Leggo nel risvolto della prima di copertina: "Ultimo e incompiuto romanzo di Dickens (la stesura fu interrotta dalla morte dell'autore) viene qui presentato in una nuova traduzione così innovativa da rendere pressoché evidente la soluzione del giallo".
Al momento dell'acquisto questa frase mi inquietò e rimasi indeciso, ma alla fine cedetti perché la vecchia edizione Bompiani risultava irreperibile da anni.
I tipi della Utet evidentemente devono essere entrati in possesso di un manoscritto sinora rimasto celato al resto dell'editoria mondiale, mi sono detto, qualche appunto o traccia lasciati dall'autore sugli sviluppi di un romanzo che si interrompe decisamente troppo presto (trecento paginette) per gli standard di Dickens per trarne delle conclusioni, con un paio di personaggi appena introdotti e che promettevano faville.
Niente di tutto ciò, non c'è neanche un apparato redazionale degno di nota, solo una banale prefazione.
Ma, anche a voler prescindere da questo, che vuol dire "innovare" la traduzione di un romanzo in modo da renderne più "evidente la soluzione"?
La traduzione ora serve a questo, mi chiedo. Neanche se i lettori fossero giocatori del Cluedo.
Non voglio che mi si renda evidente un bel niente, men che mai la soluzione di un "giallo" (giallo, poi, ma di che parlano?) non completato dall'autore (soluzione del tutto opinabile, tra l'altro).
Più ci penso e più mi sembra una aberrazione.
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