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Nicholas Nickleby
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Archived Group Reads 2020 > Nicholas Nickleby: Week 1: Chapters I - VI

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message 1: by Piyangie, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Piyangie | 824 comments Mod
Welcome to our group read of Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens! This is our first segment of the discussion.

The first chapter gives a brief general introduction to the Nickleby family. Then a more detailed introduction on Ralph Nickleby and short one of Nicholas Nickleby follows. Ralph Nickleby is a very wealthy man but his precise means of occupation/income is obscure. And this gives rise to the speculation of an illegal enterprise.

After the introductory chapter, the story proper, or the action begins. Ralph Nickleby learns of his brother’s death and goes to meet his widow and children who have come to London to meet him. Properly determined that he will not exert any more than necessary to place them on some independent footing, and not tax his money with any expenditure on their behalf, he first imparts their financial status (very impertinently I thought) to the landlady of their lodgings. Secondly, in so many words he tells Mrs. Nickleby and her children not to expect much from him. Ralph’s help to the family of his dead brother amounts only to securing young Nicholas a place as a tutor in a Yorkshire boarding school, and to find his sister Kate suitably apprenticed for a job and to help towards the keeping of mother and daughter in Nicholas’s absent.

The meeting between the uncle and nephew is not very pleasing. They seem to mutually dislike each other. Young Nicholas struck me as an honest and spirited young man. And perhaps his honesty must be seeing through his uncle’s cunning. The young man relents somewhat on his opinion after Ralph’s offer of help to secure him a tutor position and look after his mother and his sister in his absence.

We are introduced to Mr. Wackford Squeers, the schoolmaster of the Boarding school, in which Nicholas to become a tutor. His treatment of the boys whom he had taken in doesn’t strike right and there is a sense of foreboding as to what to expect. Ralph Nickleby ensures Nicholas’s employment. He is familiar with the schoolmaster. There is a reference to a boy under Ralph’s patronage who has died in the school under some supposed illness. All seems not right there. Nicholas is not altogether comfortable but is cheerful because he could make a beginning, so amidst sad farewells to his mother and sister, he goes to Yorkshire.

What did you think of this segment? How do the characters strike you, especially Ralph Nickleby and Wackford Squeers?

Kate Nickleby is the only one expresses her doubts and suspicions as to what sort of establishment that Nicholas is about to begin his work? She is negatively struck by the appearance and rough ways of Mr. Squeers. Do you think her fears are justified?


Pamela (bibliohound) | 51 comments This was a lively start to the book, I really enjoyed it .

Wackford Squeers was a striking character (literally striking as he was hitting the poor child who was waiting at the Saracen's house). He appears motivated solely by money, the £20 he gets for each boy, rather than their welfare. He attracts parents such as Snawley, who wants to get rid of his stepchildren so that his wife doesn't spend her money on them. It doesn't bode well for Nicholas going to work for this man.

I am curious about the letter Noggs gave to Nicholas, we suspect Nickleby has been involved in some shady dealings so could this e the proof?


Frances (francesab) | 313 comments I've also enjoyed the opening chapters, and clearly Dickens has his sights set on boarding schools, which he also tackles in David Copperfield. Squeers is clearly a horrible Headmaster, and appears to go out of his way to attract boys that no one will care about or want home for holidays.

The 6th chapter was a bit strange-two tales narrated by one of the travellers-did Dickens need to pad out his tale a bit?

Nicholas appears a typical Dickensian hero-handsome, good hearted, strong-willed, and I assume his pretty sister will be a romantic interest for someone later on in the novel.

Looking forward to this read!


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Piyangie | 824 comments Mod
Pamela wrote: "This was a lively start to the book, I really enjoyed it .

Wackford Squeers was a striking character (literally striking as he was hitting the poor child who was waiting at the Saracen's house). H..."


Yes, Pamela, Wackford's intention is clear. He is concerned about how much the pupils can draw him than any education that he could give the boys. Mr. Snwaley is an ideal parent to the Wackford's establishment. But to Wackford's establishment, for he would not question any foul treatment towards the boys. It is quite shocking how cruelty is practiced against children in that wicked manner.

I too am very much curious about Noggs' letter to Nicholas. I have a feeling it is about some foul dealing between Ralph Nickleby and Wackford Squeers. They seem well acquainted.


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Piyangie | 824 comments Mod
Frances wrote: " Dickens has his sights set on boarding schools, which he also tackles in David Copperfield. ..."

Agree there, Frances. And also stepfather's getting rid of stepsons as in the Snawley case which was the same fate of David Copperfield.

I also wondered about the two stories narrated in chapter 6. I cannot understand its significance to Nicholas's story other than to fill the chapter!


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Piyangie | 824 comments Mod
Since Frances brought Kate to our notice, there is something that Miss La Creevy tells Nicholas on his departure that made me a bit uneasy on behalf of her. To quote " Your sister is a very pretty young lady, Mr. Nickleby, and that is an additional reason why she should have somebody to protect her. " I feel it as a sign that Kate might face trouble and difficulties in the future. Too soon to make predictions, but I can't feel having this foreboding feeling.


message 7: by Brenda (last edited May 18, 2020 08:14AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Brenda (gd2brivard) | 141 comments I thought this was an interesting section getting to know some of the characters. For me it was a little slow until chapter 3, but then it started to come together. I think my brain was still getting used to the Victorian writing style as well.
Ralph seems like a scoundrel, his only aim in life is money. He indicated to Nicholas that he would only help his mother and sister if Nicholas took the job and did well. I can’t imagine Ralph’s idea of “taking care” of them either. He’s made his irritation known on several occasions that he thinks they live above themselves, so I’m anxious to see what his plans are in that regard. It’s interesting how Ralph plays poor, but really is not. I’m curious about the relationship with the boy that died at the Boarding School that he was helping, and if that will come out later?
Wackford Squeers is another opportunist. He and Ralph seem rather cut from the same cloth, no qualms to get to the end, and the end is just money. I’m also afraid to see what’s going to come of the boys once they get to the boarding school, as the little we’ve seen already where Squeers didn’t need to play the game was frightful, and already instructing the boys that a little hunger is a good thing.
I think Kate is dead on, and I think Nicholas also sees it at that point, but what is he to do? He’s in a hard spot. He needs work, and his mother and sisters fate rests on him towing the line and keeping his mouth shut. That’s a big task for one who is barely a man and now being thrust into the world.
I’m wondering if the Muffin and Crumpet enterprise will come along later? I confess, I was a little confused through that section or maybe I just wasn’t paying enough attention?
I thought the storytelling was interesting too when they were waiting for a new carriage. How different times are now when they were interested if anyone could sing but then told some stories to pass the time, and today everyone would probably have had their head buried in a phone.
And yes….Noggs letter as someone else brought up in the comments, so interested to see what’s in that!


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Piyangie | 824 comments Mod
Brenda wrote: "I thought this was an interesting section getting to know some of the characters. For me it was a little slow until chapter 3, but then it started to come together. I think my brain was still getti..."

Yes, Brenda. To both Ralph and Wackford what matters is the money, however ill-gotten. And like you, I cannot imagine what Ralph meant by "taking care" of his niece and sister-in-law. Whatever is in mind, it is not generous. And I am also uneasy as to Kate's future. Ralph is not very straight as to what kind of employment he has in mind for her. I hope it is not in a disreputable place.


Frances (francesab) | 313 comments I thought the Muffin and Crumpet episode was just Dickens mocking the style of politicking where someone can gain financially through convincing politicians to help their particular business to flourish by getting rid of competitors.


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Piyangie | 824 comments Mod
Frances wrote: "I thought the Muffin and Crumpet episode was just Dickens mocking the style of politicking where someone can gain financially through convincing politicians to help their particular business to flo..."

Perhaps it is. As a journalist and a parliamentary reporter, Dickens must have had a close knowledge of how these things worked.


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Piyangie | 824 comments Mod
Brenda wrote: "I thought the storytelling was interesting too when they were waiting for a new carriage. How different times are now when they were interested if anyone could sing but then told some stories to pass the time..."

Ah, that clears things. Thanks Brenda. I didn't think of it that way. :)


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Piyangie | 824 comments Mod
What did you all think of Dicken's writing? I felt it is very satirical, boldly so, more than his later works would credit.


Trisha | 46 comments Piyangie wrote: "What did you all think of Dicken's writing? I felt it is very satirical, boldly so, more than his later works would credit."

I agree, Piyangie - he was definitely making fun of people & situations. I have read this book once before but don’t remember it in any detail. It has started well & given an interesting introduction to the characters involved so far. But I wasn’t impressed by the muffin & crumpet section or by the 2 stories in Chapter 6. I see that others have commented on these too - but did you notice the irony? At the end of the discussions on North & South, Lady Clementina said that Dickens advised Elizabeth Gaskell to hurry up her story. It’s a pity he doesn’t follow his own advice at times! I know some books were published originally in sections, but I find it irritating to read an interesting story that suddenly has a large section of irrelevant material inserted for no apparent reason.


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Piyangie | 824 comments Mod
Trisha wrote: "But I wasn’t impressed by the muffin & crumpet section or by the 2 stories in Chapter 6. I see that others have commented on these too - but did you notice the irony? At the end of the discussions on North & South, Lady Clementina said that Dickens advised Elizabeth Gaskell to hurry up her story. It’s a pity he doesn’t follow his own advice at times! I know some books were published originally in sections, but I find it irritating to read an interesting story that suddenly has a large section of irrelevant material inserted for no apparent reason...."

I didn't quite follow the muffin & crumpet section, except to understand that Ralph and his associates are staging some cunning enterprise with the aid of a few MPs. Other than that, I didn't grasp much of it except his satirical way of presenting the event and the actors involved. I do very much agree with you on the two stories in chapter 6. The first one left me worn and confused that I skimmed the second and a bit guilty about it. :) But yes, they didn't impress me either.

I understand completely and share your sentiments about Dickens resorting to irrelevant details too many times in the middle of his main story, especially when it is getting very interesting. This was one of my many grievances against Great Expectations . When I beginning to enjoy a section, Dickens diverts my attention with some irrelevant ranting. The same with the inclusion of the two stories in chapter 6. As Brenda explained, it was added to show how they passed the time until their carriage was ready, I personally felt the accident should have been avoided and Nicholas and party were transported quickly to Yorkshire.

But given this was written to a periodical and given they were paid by the number of words, and that he was still in youth and sufficiently inexperienced as an author (though very popular) when writing this, certain allowances need to be made.


Brenda (gd2brivard) | 141 comments I was thinking about the book length as well, and again...how times have changed. Just out of curiosity I did a search... average length of a Victorian era novel is 500-700 pages, average length of a book in 2011 was 467 pages in 2017 its only 273. And perhaps why they were more often referred to as novels, which seem to be often defined as containing stories in stories, where now they are usually just "books" and one story.

Many authors were paid by the word, and also, again...different times...the readers that could afford books probably had more idle time to read and pore over a book and discuss it... now, there are SO many books, people have a much shorter attention span and and generally aren't reading the same few books that have just come out or waiting for the next installment, because there a lot of books coming out left and right.

I just finished The Hunchback of Notre Dame (which took almost a year) and completely agree on the sometimes infuriating nature of authors to completely go off on a tangent explaining something or getting sidetracked-LOL. But, if I can maybe put myself in a parlor setting, and am used to hearing stories as anecdotes to pass the time, I might like a side story to discuss or ponder on???

Just some thoughts on the different time periods.


Frances (francesab) | 313 comments Piyangie wrote: "What did you all think of Dicken's writing? I felt it is very satirical, boldly so, more than his later works would credit."

I am finding the almost caricature-like approach to his characters a bit much at times-his villains are so villainous, his heroes so heroic. However it's an interesting story and I'm looking forward to see how it develops.


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Piyangie | 824 comments Mod
Brenda wrote: "I was thinking about the book length as well, and again...how times have changed. Just out of curiosity I did a search... average length of a Victorian era novel is 500-700 pages, average length of..."

Thank you for sharing the information and your views with us, Brenda. Dickens wrote to the then society and he must have had a fair idea of the expectations of his readers who certainly may have had different expectations stemming out from the different periods. Perhaps, it is unfair for us to compare, but I very much agree with Trisha that it certainly is irritating at times. :)


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Piyangie | 824 comments Mod
Brenda wrote: "I just finished The Hunchback of Notre Dame (which took almost a year)..."

I've planned to read Hunchback in June. I'm already on guard! :)


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Piyangie | 824 comments Mod
Frances wrote: "Piyangie wrote: "What did you all think of Dicken's writing? I felt it is very satirical, boldly so, more than his later works would credit."

I am finding the almost caricature-like approach to hi..."


Yes, Frances, his characters are markedly cut with no in-betweens. I feel it is his way of bringing more emphasis and drama to his story.


message 20: by Nina (new) - rated it 3 stars

Nina | 17 comments I agree with all of the comments that have been made about the various characters and the scattered style/writing of this week's reading. It almost reads like the work of younger writers who have a lot of talent, promise, and ideas and can't quite settle on what they want to write or how they want to write it. I'm reading Dickens out of order, but I believe this is one of his earliest works, so that may be one of the reasons.

One of the issues I'm having is that I'm 100 pages in and have no emotional tie to Nicholas as the main character/hero. He seems nice, but there's nothing particularly special about him that makes me want to read his story, not like there have been with other Dickens characters (Pip in Great Expectations and David in David Copperfield, for example). I'm sure that will change later on, but right now I was much more interested in what Ralph was doing than what was going to happen to Nicholas. Even though a villain, I felt Ralph was more developed as a character. I could see him in my mind's eye.

I also agree with everyone who expressed interest in the Noggs letter! I think (hope) that will bring some intrigue to the plot.


Bruce I read this several months ago, so I’m not sure if my favorite character has been introduced yet, but it is true. Some of the characters are 2 dimensional. I also remember not liking Mrs Nickleby very much. She’s not a bad character, per se, but she doesn’t stick up for Nicholas. I do like the overall premise though, and it’s critique of British institutions, such as schools and the rich. I thought Oliver Twist (his previous novel) was the better story, but I didn’t like that all the evil characters were poor people, apart from (again) a schoolmaster, not to mention the anti Semitism (Fagin was Jewish).


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Piyangie | 824 comments Mod
Nina wrote: "It almost reads like the work of younger writers who have a lot of talent, promise, and ideas and can't quite settle on what they want to write or how they want to write it. I'm reading Dickens out of order, but I believe this is one of his earliest works, so that may be one of the reasons...."

I quite agree with you there. It is an early work, third published in fact.


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Piyangie | 824 comments Mod
Nina wrote: "One of the issues I'm having is that I'm 100 pages in and have no emotional tie to Nicholas as the main character/hero. He seems nice, but there's nothing particularly special about him that makes me want to read his story, not like there have been with other Dickens characters..."

It may be because more prominence is given to Ralph Nickleby in these chapters than to Nicholas. He is still playing a secondary role. I'm sure things will change in the coming segments.


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Piyangie | 824 comments Mod
Bruce wrote: "I also remember not liking Mrs Nickleby very much. She’s not a bad character, per se, but she doesn’t stick up for Nicholas...."

I read somewhere that Mrs. Nickleby was modeled on Charles Dickens's real mother. I don't know if it is true. But there was some anger in him towards her for sending him for work at a very young age when his father was sent to the debtor's prison, and also for insisting for his continuation there even when his father was released. So perhaps he thought she didn't stand up to her like Mrs. Nickleby for Nicholas.


Daniela Sorgente | 82 comments Like Brenda I did not find the Muffin and Crumpet part very clear, and Frances' point of view was helpful. :) I had difficulties in imagining the scene.
My favourite Dickens so far is Bleak House, I am curious to see if I will like this book as much as that, even if I am not expecting such a complex plot or so many twists in the story.


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Trev | 216 comments In the preface to my edition, Dickens writes that the character of the school master was not based on any one person but instead a combination of a number of Yorkshire teachers that he either knew of or heard about. It obviously didn’t suit his story to hear about any of the more benevolent ones but I am sure they were not all as mean and sadistic as Wackford Squeers. I did think about Jane Eyre and how much Charlotte regretted that she and her sisters were sent to Cowan Bridge, a school for the daughters of clergy. They were eventually removed for their own good but not long after Maria and Elizabeth died of consumption.
Regarding Ralph, he obviously puts himself and his money before anything else and not even family members will change the way he deals with any ‘attack’ upon his fortune. He even believes that he is doing people good turns (eg Noggs) when in fact he is humiliating them. Nicholas’ initial perceptions of Ralph will no doubt turn out to be true, but his naivety in thinking that his uncle is doing the best for him (and his mother and sister) reveals how he will have to grow up and gain experience fast if he is to survive.


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Piyangie | 824 comments Mod
Daniela wrote: "Like Brenda I did not find the Muffin and Crumpet part very clear, and Frances' point of view was helpful. :) I had difficulties in imagining the scene.
My favourite Dickens so far is Bleak House, ..."


The Muffin and Crumpet part is used for two reasons I believe. First is to show how mercenary minded Ralph is and the second is as Frances explained to show how certain people cheated on the system with the help of the politicians to gain pecuniary advantages for themselves.


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Piyangie | 824 comments Mod
Trev wrote: "In the preface to my edition, Dickens writes that the character of the school master was not based on any one person but instead a combination of a number of Yorkshire teachers that he either knew ..."

I believe you are right there, Trev. My copy had the similar preface. And knowing Dicken's fancy for a bit of exaggeration, I'm sure this could be the case. Besides the exaggeration is very effective to portray the type of schoolmasters whom he thought should not occupy such positions or allowed to run schools. And it also provides a bit of high drama.

I too think Nicholas's initial opinion on Ralph is the correct one. His nature is not one of kindness, and nobody is any dear to him other than money.


message 29: by Robin (new)

Robin | 162 comments I have been intrigued by the simplicity of the characters so far - so good or so bad - in comparison with the subtle manner in which Ralph Nickleby conveys his meaning to anyone who might thwart him. Initially he ensures that the landlady knows that she will not receive any money from him to subsidise the widow and her daughter's lodgings. He is very clear so as to ensure that the Nicklebys are dependent on his plans for their future. Similarly, Squeers is in no doubt that Nicholas will be easily manipulated after Ralph Nickleby's commentary on Nicholas, his past, his current situation, and his character. All of this is done in a way that makes Nicholas feel positive- how clever of Ralph. And how unworldly of Nicholas. Alas, Ralph is not the only manipulator of words. Mrs Nickleby has contributed to the family's ill fortune, but persuades herself and the family she is hard done by. At the same time, she shows that she is accustomed to having money to spend. Her foolish farewell , initially to be in a hired handsome cab (at whose intended expense?) is a ploy at seeming the caring mother. Her lodgings, too, have been taken as if she has some means. The only person with any sense of what might be happening is Kate. Perhaps her dislike of Squeers is based more on a sense of propriety than a worldliness unequaled by the rest of her family.

Two things that strike me, having just finished reading North and South, are that both Dickens and Galsworthy portray a less than prefect mother/older woman and a more sensible daughter/younger woman. Where the authors diverge most markedly is in their response to social conditions. Galsworthy remarks upon them, and does some splendid work in drawing the differences between worker and employer, but seems to move away from really strong social commentary. Dickens' motivation is strong social commentary aimed at effecting change.


message 30: by Piyangie, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Piyangie | 824 comments Mod
Robin wrote: "I have been intrigued by the simplicity of the characters so far - so good or so bad - in comparison with the subtle manner in which Ralph Nickleby conveys his meaning to anyone who might thwart hi..."

Some interesting observations you have made there about Mrs. Nickleby, Robin. It seems both Dickens and Gaskell has been observant of weak and silly old women and the sensible young ones.

Mrs. Nickleby's foolish vanity is what Ralph picks up and appeals to from the beginning. And I agree that the most sensibly of the Nickleby's is Kate. Nicholas is also yet to learn about the world.

More emphasis is put on the character of Ralph in this segment, and we see little as to the insight of other characters, so they will appear simple at the moment. But these characters surely will be eventually developed. I'm particularly interested to see how our young hero, Nicholas, will turn out to be. He seems spirited, so sooner or later he'll see the truth about his uncle.


message 31: by Robin (new)

Robin | 162 comments Trisha wrote: "Piyangie wrote: "What did you all think of Dicken's writing? I felt it is very satirical, boldly so, more than his later works would credit."

I agree, Piyangie - he was definitely making fun of pe..."


I agree about the stories in chapter 6 - I kept looking for some connection to the characters and main story, but could find none. So, what is their point? I can see that they were a way of passing the time, and perhaps a feature of the period. Instead of chatter, sleep or thought, time was filled with song, or if this was not feasible, stories. But Dickens always seems to have a purpose in his novels, and it seems odd to me that these two stories did not support his purpose. I was not so concerned about the muffin interlude. This seemed to be in keeping with Dicken's purpose, that is, to suggest that dishonesty (or at least disingenuous behaviour) was typical of the milieu in which the Nicklebys find themselves in London. We understand that life here is different from their past experience and we are warned that being unworldly is unwise in the new lives they are to confront.


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Christine Covil | 13 comments I noticed everyone was frustrated by the two stories in chapter 6 and I would agree they have no direct relevance to the plot, authors now aim for every word to advance the plot but this was very different in the early part of the 19th century when there was less entertainment and more was expected from the latest weekly or monthly instalment of the novel. Brenda highlighted this with her research: "the average length of a Victorian era novel is 500-700 pages, average length of a book in 2011 was 467 pages in 2017 its only 273." I did find the sojourn at the inn and the two stories made it seem like I was actually going on a long coach journey at the same slow pace and I felt the accident was a chance for Nicholas to act heroically in controlling the horses.

I agree with other observations that his characters are very clear cut and I do find this a bit frustrating but I'm trying to keep in mind that, as Robin pointed out, "Dickens' motivation is strong social commentary aimed at effecting change." The drama resulting from his black and white approach contributes to this end.

I was touched by Dickens evident emotion as he draws his characters, his early life was so traumatic, I felt the tension with his mother comes through in his portrayal of Mrs Nickleby I haven't read many of Dickens books but I would assume he gains more mastery of his emotions over time and this might change his writing style?

I found myself laughing out loud at his black humour. The wry observations in North and South made me smile but Elizabeth Gaskell didn't make me laugh out loud.


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Piyangie | 824 comments Mod
Christine wrote: "I was touched by Dickens evident emotion as he draws his characters, his early life was so traumatic, I felt the tension with his mother comes through in his portrayal of Mrs Nickleby I haven't read many of Dickens books but I would assume he gains more mastery of his emotions over time and this might change his writing style?

I found myself laughing out loud at his black humour. The wry observations in North and South made me smile but Elizabeth Gaskell didn't make me laugh out loud...."


His mother's lack of support troubled Dickens when young and he was reproducing a similar situation in the relationship between Mrs. Nickleby and her children. If you take Dickens's early works his portrayal of women is quite unsympathetic. But his later works go through a revival and we see strong female characters/heroines are introduced.

I also had a similar reaction to his dark humour. :) Even when we read the distressing things, his humour can still make it lighter and endurable.


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Canavan | 4 comments Piyangie said (in part):

But given this was written to a periodical and given they were paid by the number of words, and that he was still in youth and sufficiently inexperienced as an author (though very popular) when writing this, certain allowances need to be made.

This is no doubt nitpicky, but I wanted to point out that while it’s often said that Dickens was paid by the word, this isn’t strictly true. Instead, he was paid by installment. For example, The Pickwick Papers was released as 20 installments over a period of 19 months, the last release being a “double issue” that contained two installments. Of course, since installments were by prior arrangement fixed in length (32 pages of letter press), it’s still possible to make the more general point that the author was at least in some sense compensated for length.


message 35: by Piyangie, Moderator (last edited May 28, 2020 08:32AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Piyangie | 824 comments Mod
Canavan wrote: "Piyangie said (in part):


But given this was written to a periodical and given they were paid by the number of words, and that he was still in youth and sufficiently inexperienced as an author (..."


Thank you for that slight correction there. If he was paid by installments, it would be profitable to have more installment in the story. This might explain the insertion of a chapter like the chapter 6 of this book which if he wished could have avoided or shortened and merged with another installment.


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Canavan | 4 comments Piyangie said (in part):

If he was paid by installments, it would be profitable to have more installment in the story. This might explain the insertion of a chapter like the chapter 6 of this book which if he wished could have avoided or shortened and merged with another installment.

I think I’m correct in stating that the number of installments was determined in advance. (Most of Dickens’ books were set at 20 installments.)


message 37: by Piyangie, Moderator (last edited May 28, 2020 11:48AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Piyangie | 824 comments Mod
Canavan wrote: "Piyangie said (in part):


If he was paid by installments, it would be profitable to have more installment in the story. This might explain the insertion of a chapter like the chapter 6 of this b..."


Perhaps I didn't express my view clearly. What I meant was that if he was paid by installments and the number of installments are predetermined he cannot reduce the number, can he now? So it was necessary for him to fill in certain installment with details which don't have a strict bearing to the story, as was the case in chapter 6, where two stories were related just to "pass the time".


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Canavan | 4 comments Piyangie said (in part):

Perhaps I didn't express my view clearly. What I meant was that if he was paid by installments and the number of installments are predetermined he cannot reduce the number, can he now?

Ah, I see now. Yes, that’s a good point.


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Mandy | 16 comments I find in reading Dickens I'm always hopeful for some redeeming qualities in his antagonists, and I'm usually disappointed. I guess I always want people to turn out good. I was hopeful when Ralph Nickleby seemed to take pause when he found out his brother was dead, and there was a moment (if I read it right), of nostalgia and maybe hinting at grief. I wondered if his hardening himself against the surviving Nickleby's was merely protective. I was similarly encouraged when Nicholas began to see the good in his uncle, but those hopes were dashed when every seemingly friendly remark by Ralph was made with a "sneer," or a "snarl."
Squeers is obviously stingy, mean, and money-hungry. I don't see much else to him at this point.
What do you make of Noggs? I get the feeling he will factor in in a major way later on. What was in the letter he handed Nicholas?


message 40: by Mandy (new) - added it

Mandy | 16 comments I'm not as willing as some here to write-off the 2 stories in Chapter 6 as Dickens merely filling the space. There's a lesson in each, possibly a foreshadowing.... I'm waiting to find out before I pass judgement.


Allie | 11 comments Amanda wrote: "I'm not as willing as some here to write-off the 2 stories in Chapter 6 as Dickens merely filling the space. There's a lesson in each, possibly a foreshadowing.... I'm waiting to find out before I ..."

Same!

Plus I thought both fairly interesting anyway 🤷🏻‍♀️


message 42: by Piyangie, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Piyangie | 824 comments Mod
Happy that you both enjoyed the two stories in chapter 6!


message 43: by ConnieD (new)

ConnieD (bookwithcat) | 36 comments Just now starting. Downloaded a chapter from each Librivox version to see which one I want to hear.


message 44: by Piyangie, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Piyangie | 824 comments Mod
Welcome, Connie! :)


Brenda (gd2brivard) | 141 comments I'm not sure if anyone is still following the thread, but I've been reading The Victorian City: Everyday Life in Dickens' London which is hugely fascinating, and it just referred to the section in Chapter 6, where they are at the pub and telling stories.

First, the book is very interesting, and really gives more weight to the small things that Dickens puts in his novels. As he is a student of people and seems to be a champion of the poor and downtrodden, the seemingly insignificant things really may not be. Now I think of his novels more as non-fiction telling of factual events. I'm rather new to Dickens though and not really read anything about him, so this may not be big news. LOL But going forward, I will look at this novels differently.

Anyway....in The Victorian City, she's talking about early advertisement. One was Barber Shops advertising "the pure grease of a fine large bear" in which several Barber Shops would then shuttle around the same bear that would be "freshly killed" for the grease, which became a running joke. She goes to the section in Nicholas Nickleby then, where they are sitting around the fire telling stories, and one concerns a German count who killed his own bear to grease his whiskers afterwards. So perhaps instead of just being filler, which it could be, it could also be Dickens putting us in a slice of life at that time. What it would be like if the stage overturned and the stories told, etc.


message 46: by Piyangie, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Piyangie | 824 comments Mod
Brenda wrote: "I'm not sure if anyone is still following the thread, but I've been reading The Victorian City: Everyday Life in Dickens' London which is hugely fascinating, and it just referred to..."

Thanks for sharing this information, Brenda. I'm curious now to check out the book. 😊


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