The Pickwick Papers

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What to expect

When a twenty-four-year-old writer named Charles Dickens was asked to write a serialized story about English country life, no one anticipated that he was about to become one of the most famous authors of all time. The Pickwick Papers, as it came to be called, enchanted readers with its lively humor and delightfully drawn characters. The members of the Pickwick Club, presided over by the kindly old Mr. Samuel Pickwick, Esquire, agree to make a series of separate journeys into the English countryside and report back to the other club members on their adventures and observations, resulting in an abundance of entertaining anecdotes. When The Pickwick Papers was finally released as a complete novel, it became the first real publishing phenomenon, inspiring bootleg copies, theatrical performances, and merchandise based on the popular characters.

Critics Review

  • “To wander into Pickwick is to wander into a room of wholly recognizable characters—a Dickens nursery, if you will, with the characters we would meet over the years appearing as embryonic personae, much as an artist sketches ideas for inclusion into a painting at a later date. Pickwick is defined not by its plot but by the extraordinary depth of its characters.”

    Jasper Fforde, New York Times bestselling author
  • “A supreme masterpiece…The great example of everything that made Dickens great.”

    G. K. Chesterton
  • “No essay in fiction ever gave more incontestable assurance of genius…Never, perhaps, was satire so large-hearted and so entertaining.”

    George Gissing
  • “Charles Dickens’…comic masterpiece [is] some 750 pages long. Fear not, gentle listener, you will never be bored. The madcap adventures of Samuel Pickwick, wealthy retired businessman with a gigantic brain, and his three young friends, Tupman, Winkle, and Snodgrass, poke fun at the law, religion, debtors’ prisons, romance, the medical profession, dueling, con men, local elections, the media, a lawsuit for breach of promise, and other difficulties too numerous to mention…Through it all, Pickwick’s virtue and naïvete shine, a beacon to his club members and the many friends he makes along the way. Many anecdotes told by those many friends let Dickens flex his literary muscles. He writes scenes of tender love, death scenes to make you weep, grinding poverty, soul-blighting prisons but balances all with wit and uproarious humor. Dickens’ masterwork is narrated by the incomparable Simon Prebble…He gives the novel the full-voiced treatment, with accents and fluttery females given to hysterics. Highly recommended.” (starred review)

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