Friday, November 25, 2011

Nicholas Nickleby - by Charles Dickens

Nicholas Nickleby; I love this Charles Dickens novel. (US Edition)  (UK Edition)  I read it immediately after seeing a multi-hour stage adaptation that introduced me to characters I will remember my whole life.  It may be that this novel was somewhat overlooked until that 1980 theatrical adaptation.

Amazon has added a new feature where they show Kindle readers favorite passages from a book.  They are from the highlighting feature on Kindle.  I actually found it annoying and turned it off, but I enjoy looking at the Amazon reviews and seeing the favorite quotes.  The US & UK Amazon sites show exactly the same quotes with the same counts – but the reviews are either US or UK, not commingled as the quotes are.

Here is one:  “Dreams are the bright creatures of poem and legend, who sport on earth in the night season, and melt away in the first beam of the sun, which lights grim care and stern reality on their daily pilgrimage through the world.”  Sounds sort of Shakespearean.
And Dickens and Shakespeare have this in common; they knew people through and through.

'Well, ma'am,' said Ralph, impatiently, 'the creditors have administered, you tell me, and there's nothing left for you?'

'Nothing,' replied Mrs Nickleby.

'And you spent what little money you had, in coming all the way to London, to see what I could do for you?' pursued Ralph.

'I hoped,' faltered Mrs Nickleby, 'that you might have an opportunity of doing something for your brother's children. It was his dying wish that I should appeal to you in their behalf.'

'I don't know how it is,' muttered Ralph, walking up and down the room, 'but whenever a man dies without any property of his own, he always seems to think he has a right to dispose of other people's. What is your daughter fit for, ma'am?'

'Kate has been well educated,' sobbed Mrs Nickleby. 'Tell your uncle, my dear, how far you went in French and extras.'

The poor girl was about to murmur something, when her uncle stopped her, very unceremoniously.

'We must try and get you apprenticed at some boarding-school,' said Ralph. 'You have not been brought up too delicately for that, I hope?'

Here is a review of Nicholas Nickleby by a particularly intrepid Amazon reviewer who has done over a thousand reviews.  “  . .Dickens turns his sights toward the abuse of Yorkshire schools - a national disgrace - in which children were effectively abandoned for a fee. Neglect, physical abuse, malnourishment, cold, and ill health were endemic. This political attack becomes the setting for an expansive tale of the Nickleby family and their ongoing struggle against the evil of their uncle Ralph. The usual collection of sub-plots, comedy and Dickensian characters rounds out a lengthy but fulfilling read that nobody will be sorry they started.”

You will miss these characters when you close the book.  I should say you will miss these people that Dickens has introduced you to.

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