The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club (commonly known as The Pickwick Papers) is the first novel by Charles Dickens. The book became the first real publishing phenomenon, with bootleg copies, theatrical performances, Sam Weller joke books and other merchandise.
Written for publication as a serial, The Pickwick Papers is a sequence of loosely-related adventures. The novel's main character, Mr. Samuel Pickwick, Esquire, is a kind and wealthy old gentleman, and the founder and perpetual president of the Pickwick Club. To extend his researches into the quaint and curious phenomena of life, he suggests that he and three other "Pickwickians" (Mr. Nathaniel Winkle, Mr. Augustus Snodgrass, and Mr. Tracy Tupman) should make journeys to remote places from London and report on their findings to the members of the club. Their travels throughout the English countryside provide the chief theme of the novel.
Its main literary value and appeal is formed by its numerous memorable characters. Each character in The Pickwick Papers, as in many other Dickens novels, is drawn comically, often with exaggerated personalities. Alfred Jingle provides an aura of comic villainy. His misadventures repeatedly land the Pickwickians in trouble. These include Jingle's elopement with the spinster, Aunt Rachael of Dingley Dell manor, misadventures with Dr. Slammer, and others.
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This novel, Dickens's first, made him famous and was perhaps the world's first real publishing phenomenon, inspiring bootleg copies, theatrical performances, and merchandise based on the popular characters.
"[T]he great example of everything that made Dickens great....[a] supreme masterpiece." (G. K. Chesterton)
If you are unfamiliar with the writings of Charles Dickens this is a good novel to start with as it is one of his happier ones.
It does touch on one of the social ills of the age, the debtors' prisons and that part is informative and thought provoking, but mostly the story is far less serious.
The humour is both satirical and gentle, the various cxharacters intriguing and often recognisable! The plot is typically complex, but although the story is lengthy it can be listened to gradually with easy breaks.
To those who already love Dickens writing I believe you will find Simon Prebble the narrator is masterful and a joy to listen to. His treatment of the many different characters made them easy to distinguish and readily believable. My own particular favourites, Sam and Tony Weller, came across exactly as I "vould" have imagined and his dear gentle Mr Pickwick was wonderful.
Cannot recommend this highly enough.
I would recommend this book to anyone, with one condition... Don't give up on it too soon. This book starts very slowly. It was Dickens first book I believe, and it starts out in a very stuffy formal mode. It purports to be a documentation of the activities of the "Pickwick" club (hence the name the Pickwick Papers). The story takes a while to get going, and I'm afraid many might not have the patience to see it through. Once it gets going, you don't ever want it to end. The narration is first rate as well. Sometimes you find yourself mesmerized by the sheer beauty of the writing of the author, and the magnificent reading of the narrator. It also contains some of the most endearing characters that Dickens ever created. It will make you laugh, it will make you cry, its wonderful.
This reader (Prebble) is a master at dickens voices! He is wonderful to listen to.
The Pickwick Papers is a fun read, not a dark story-line such as Tale of Two Cities
Everyone seems to have a different impression of Charles Dickens, depending on how many of his 15 novels they've read (or movie and/or BBC adaptations they've watched).
I decided to listen to all of his novels chronologically, and, technically this is his first.
I say technically because, although all of his novels were serialized, subsequent ones become much more cohesive--written more like chapters of a continuing story/ modern novel-- rather than individual episodes with familiar characters.
In other words, if you think of a sitcom vs. an HBO series, Pickwick Papers is a sitcom, both in structure and depth. Over the chapters, the adventures and situations vary, but the core cast is consistent, with "guest" characters coming in and out. And as sometimes happens, one introduced character (Sam Weller) clicks so well he becomes not only a regular cast member, but also a clear fan favorite.
As with any sitcom, a continuing plot (or lack thereof) isn't the point--it's all about the characters and setting, and-- although Dickens will become fairly proficient at plotting later in his career--characters and settings will always be his natural wheelhouse and earliest claim to fame.
And that's why his stuff is such a pleasure to listen to---it was meant to be read aloud, and Simon Prebble is a total pro. His accents and character differentiation are pitch-perfect.
For me, the biggest draw here is the detailed glimpse into mid-19th century English life, albeit a comically idealized one. (Milk punch, curling papers, meat pies, harrowing carriage accidents...)
Either you're really into this stuff our you aren't, but if you are, I highly recommend you supplement your listening by downloading the digitized original print version (with illustrations) from Google Books or iBooks (it's free/public domain) so you can see the illustrations that inspired the stories.
Charles Dickens' Pickwick Papers was a joy to read! Mr. Pickwick is such a kind, generous character that you'll love. I will admit that the story can get a little long and a little slow in some places, but overall it is an enjoyable read. Mr. Prebble is a wonderful narrator - he really brings out the characters' personalities. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys the classics or Charles Dickens.
The Pickwick Papers is an enchanting book, a real joy. That joy is manifested in the work of Simon Prebble who I daresay is the the most gifted narrator I have ever encountered. His pacing, voicing, and good-humored rendition is wonderful. I also listened to his narration of "Great Expectations", which was equally good. If you plan to listen to Dickens, try for a Simon Prebble narration. You will not regret it.
I am a confirmed Dickens lover thanks to audible.com. This is the 5th Dickens novel I've listened to and it was such fun. Rediculous and silly as Dickens often is, I just came to love these characters. It doesn't have the tragedy as Oliver Twist or Bleak House (both of which I enjoyed also). I will definitely listen to it again. The recording and narration was good also, nothing distracting.
Now I am not a Dickens scholar, at all. I love every Dickens audible book I have heard. Great entertainment by a great author. But Pickwick Papers is the first audible book of Dickens I didn't finish. Just wasn't interesting. It is a collection of short stories, as far as I got which was probably 4-5 hours. It is Dickens at his finest demonstrating against the British gentry that he is so well known for.
This is a delightful book. The comic prose of Dickens is incomparable, and the warm-hearted joy of Mr. Pickwick, that illustrious gentleman, is infectious.
As usual with Simon Prebble, the narration is nearly flawless: pacing, accentuation, characterizations.
The episodic nature of this book makes it well-suited to commuting, but the original illustrations are not to be missed when not driving.
...but not to be missed.
As always, Dickens gives voice to politics & poverty, and their consequences. The legal system and the "learned societies" of 19th century England as well as hypocrisy & social mores all receive their satirical barbs, but with more humor and less sharpness than usual. Evil personified does not abide in the Pickwicken milieu. I re-read (re-listen) often just to hear the richness of the language and narration. I laugh out loud each time I hear a character bristle when he is called "a fellow" or a or "a rascal," but also experience astonishment at the condition of persons imprisoned for debt. (The subject was familiar to Dickens, whose father suffered those humiliating circumstances. Read Little Dorritt for more.) Still, the warmth & humanity of the pompous Pickwick, the irrepressible Sam Weller and other fabulous characters make this a book to enjoy over & over again.
"A quite brilliant performance"
I feel inadequately qualified to offer any critique on any of the writings of England's greatest novelist. The fact that they can be read &/or listened to and thoroughly enjoyed over 150 years after they were written is testimony itself to the quality of the work.
I must, however, pay tribute in this instance to quite brilliant narration by Simon Prebble.
It was truly superb throughout.
His diction & pronunciation is faultless and his impressive range of accents for the various characters who appear in this wonderful collection of tales was so brilliantly done that it there is never any confusion over who said what & to whom!
"Dickens is just a joy"
I can't get over how fabulous that was.Dickens character description is second to none, Iwas laughing out loud and then deeply moved within a few minutes of listening. The end was just so touching and I was left feeling so glad I had listened to it.
It was a very enjoyable listen. I have always intended to read dickens but have been put off by the length of the main novels and have only read some of the short stories. I'm very pleased that I am now able to listen to the books in unabridged version because not only are the stories good but I can also hear the beauty of Charles Dickens prose.i especially like the fact that all the loose ends were tied up in the last chapter.(something which I don't remember from the various adaptations I have heard).
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