One of the most revered works in English literature, Great Expectations traces the coming of age of a young orphan, Pip, from a boy of shallow aspirations into a man of maturity. From the chilling opening confrontation with an escaped convict to the grand but eerily disheveled estate of bitter old Miss Havisham, all is not what it seems in Dickens’ dark tale of false illusions and thwarted desire.
Raised by a humble blacksmith, Pip is recruited by the wealthy Miss Havisham to be a companion to her ward, the cold but beautiful Estella. There, Pip learns to despise his rough origins as Estella torments him about his low prospects. When Pip is informed that an unknown benefactor expects to make him his heir, he sets off to London to realize his “great expectations.” But true gentleman stature, he will find, is a matter of character, not fortune.
Public Domain (P)2011 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
“Observe how finely the narrative is kept in one key. It begins with a mournful impression—the foggy marshes spreading drearily by the seaward Thames—and throughout recurs this effect of cold and damp and dreariness; in that kind Dickens never did anything so good…No story in the first person was ever better told.” (George Gissing, English novelist)
A part-time buffoon and ersatz scholar specializing in BS, pedantry, schmaltz and cultural coprophagia.
There are many parts of Dickens' writing that I love and few pieces of his that fall short of complete adoration. 'Great Expectations' is one more of Dickens' absolute masterpieces. I love how with 100 pages left you can almost feel the universe shift as Dickens grabs the crazy, once loose strings of his moral narrative and begins to pull it all together.
I think a significant part of the magic, for me, of 'Great Expectations' is found in the minor characters. Everyone from Uncle Pumblechook, Miss Havisham, & Mr Jaggers, to Mr. Wemmick and the Aged Parent (the Aged P.) could be the center of their own Dickens novel; each life is given a warmth (or where there lacks warmth, a round coldness) that keeps the novel propelled on.
You can't have a Dickens novel without a little bit of melodrama and a bit of Victorian moralizing. However, with 'Great Expectations', Dickens does this with a soft touch. He isn't as confrontational about social ills as he is in 'Hard Times' or 'Oliver Twist' and he isn't as melodramatic as he was in 'Tale of Two Cities', but even so, I completely enjoyed this gentle, more muted Dickens.
Enthralling, intelligent, riveting, engaging, while still quaint and amusing, and sill amazingly relevant. This is thought to be Dickens' most readable book and with Simon Prebble performing it certainly is. I recently heard an English actress claim that Dickens' must be read aloud and she used Great Expectations as an example. Having listened to this I would have to agree with her and Prebble's performance is impeccable. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
I enjoyed listening to this story. The narrator was good and of course Dickens tells stories well. I felt like I was back in time.
So I'm in the minority. I was forced to read this in high school (very abridged), didn't remember much of it, then I "discovered" Dickens recently and have been on a tear reading (listening to, more accurately) everything I can get my hands on. Maybe I don't like this one because it's the first first-person-narrative book of his I've read, but I feel like Dickens is less observant, or I guess the character is. In books like Dombey & Son, Pickwick Papers, Bleak House, Martin Chuzzlewit, and others, Dickens fills every pocket of a room with color--every character with minute behaviors. I didn't get as much of that in this one. (I thought the beginning chapters were strongest and most enjoyable, and I love Joe Gargery!)
The story move along at a slow pace, which is typical for stories of this era. But following along is difficult because of the language. It is written in the "Old English" style and I have always had trouble following a story using this type of English. I spend a lot of time trying to understand the language, making it hard to follow the actual plot line.
Report Inappropriate Content