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Barnaby Rudge | [Charles Dickens]

Barnaby Rudge

In a case of mistaken identification, Barnaby Rudge, a pale half-wit with long red hair who dresses all in green and carries a large raven on his back, is arrested as the leader of a mob of anti-Catholic rioters. He is condemned to death on the gallows, but an upright locksmith named Gabriel Varden comes to his aid.
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Publisher's Summary

Dickens' first historical novel is set in 1780s England at the time of the Gordon Riots. In a case of mistaken identification, Barnaby Rudge, a pale half-wit with long red hair who dresses all in green and carries a large raven on his back, is arrested as the leader of a mob of anti-Catholic rioters. He is condemned to death on the gallows, but an upright locksmith named Gabriel Varden comes to his aid.

Dickens provides another memorable cast of characters, including the dull-witted, tyrannical John Willet, Dennis the Hangman, and Hugh the savage ostler.

(P)1996 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Robert Whitfield['s] unflagging energy, imagination, and finesse rank this among the best of audio Dickens." (Library Journal)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (84 )
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  •  
    David Crozet, VA, United States 08-14-09
    David Crozet, VA, United States 08-14-09 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Overlong but under-rated Dickens"

    "Barnaby Rudge" is possibly Dickens's least well-known novel among modern readers. Hollywood has ignored it: there's a 1915 silent film version, a 1960 BBC version, and that's it. There are reasons for this: the novel makes an awkward 5-year jump in the middle, sends major characters off-stage for hundreds of pages, and is in general more padded with extraneous material and long conversations than it needs to be. Even if you're a Dickens fan, you might prefer an abridged version as an audiobook.

    But the full version has its rewards. Over time, characters who initially seemed flat and stereotyped take on true psychological depth. The best of them are among the best in Dickens--no one has created a better picture of genteel hypocrisy than Sir John Chester, for example. There are magnificent descriptions of 18th-century inns and an imaginative recreation of London after dark, pre-gaslight. And the historical portions, the depiction of Lord Gordon, the rioters, and the anarchy they unleash on London, are as compelling as the better-known counterparts in "Tale of Two Cities".

    Whitfield's narration and voice characterization is excellent throughout, despite a couple of annoying idiosyncrasies (notably, the way he handles "Why" as an exclamation). Audio quality of the file is excellent (enhanced format).

    14 of 16 people found this review helpful
  •  
    connie Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada 05-03-09
    connie Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada 05-03-09 Member Since 2007

    trying to see the world with my ears

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "darker Dickens relevant to our intolerant times"

    Lighter characters are not as prominent as in better known Dickens' novels, so this is not as heart warming as usual; however, I thought it just as good as any Dickens and, as an historical tale, I liked it better than "Tale of Two Cities." There is less domestic melodrama, but the usual Dickens' cast of characters and stereotypes: overbearing-martyr-complex wife, shrew, feral young man, sensible young woman, beautiful but silly young woman, honourable rich young man, put-upon striving poor young man, and not one but two selfish, narcissistic fathers -- And Barnaby. And Grip -- all embroiled in political and social machination.

    Dickens' usual insight into human nature is sharp thoughout: "So do the shadows of our own desires stand between us and our better angels" -- No psychologist ever described projection, scapegoating, mob mentality, and political manipulation as well as well as Dickens does in "Barnaby Rudge."

    Most characters still live happily ever after in the end, however, as the spoiler in the publisher's summary suggests.

    Whitfield's narration is excellent as usual.

    (And this is a must listen for all fans of ravens, literary or avian.)

    12 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Neil San Francisco, CA, United States 04-23-11
    Neil San Francisco, CA, United States 04-23-11 Member Since 2009
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    "Another Great Dickens Tale"

    This was a long story, with many characters. I lost parts of the story along my commute as there are numerous conversations with the characters, which didn't appear to have meaning, but come together in the end. I had to relisten to parts of the book to keep up with the story. The narrator was fantastic with his ability to change characters manners and age which is part of Dickens work. I preferred the end of the book much more as that is where the riots and drama evolves. It lacked some of the mystery of his famous classical works like Twist and Great Expectations, but to me the last 20 chapters brought it all together. The characters and accents were excellently done with the likes of Dennis the Hangman, and the Gabriel the locksmith, the idiot Barnaby, and almost human Grip. If you like Dickens you should like this one.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. Lee California 08-04-12
    J. Lee California 08-04-12 Member Since 2009

    Husband, father, building contractor, inventor and audio book lover.

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    "Another literary feast!"

    The comforting literary superfluities one comes to expect in a Dickens novel are present in full force in Barnaby Rudge. A good history lesson peopled by interesting characters and detailed story line. A great book, by a great author, read by a great narrator. What more can one hope for. Highly recommended.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
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  • Tracy
    Brentwood, United Kingdom
    5/2/12
    Overall
    "Story good but recording faulty"

    The narration and story are excellent, but there are a number of faults in the recording in the second the third files. These have been reported to audible (they have verified and acknowledge that there are errors in the files) but I see that they continue to have this for sale. Please note that, if you choose to buy this, it will not be perfect. You will be able to listen to the whole story but there will be jumps in the narration at places. I have given one star to draw attention to this problem.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Richard
    LEICESTER, United Kingdom
    4/9/13
    Overall
    "A clever, informative story, slow to get going"

    Great narration by Simon Vance throughout and an entertaining and informative story. Some great satire, observations and philosophy and some tense, exciting action. Just takes a while to get going compared to some other Dickens stories

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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