Enthralling Books: Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens

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19 Responses to “Enthralling Books: Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens”

  1. Rickenbacker4001 says:

    Great books so far in this column. keep ‘em coming ! Love it !

  2. Scurra says:

    Something I have suggested to folk before now is to try reading Dickens in those original monthly instalments – treat it like a serial tv show.  It doesn’t feel nearly as intimidating, and you get an extra respect for his ability as a writer since he was (as they often accuse those tv shows of doing) “making it up as he went along” without being able to make massive retcon revisions. 

    Plus Dickens is a seriously funny writer.

    • artaxerxes says:

      I agree. That’s a great way to read Dickens since he crafted his writing knowing his readers would be following the story in installments. Naturally, such a style makes generous use of cliff-hangers which can seem a bit cheesy or over-wrought if one is reading the book in a standard novel format. Also, as you mentioned, deadlines inspired his best work.
      To all fans of Dickens’ earlier period, “The Pickwick Papers” is also superb. I reserve it for times in the year when the Black Dog is hounding me, and it’s guaranteed to help me through a rough period. It’s funny and loaded with the excellent characterizations– almost caricature, but a bit too real– that Dickens does so masterfully.And though it’s what I consider upbeat Dickens: no innocents dying of small-pox at the side of the road, spitting up their last consumptive blood clot as an aristocrat’s carriage drenches them in mud, he assails lawyers, money-grubbers and lick-spittles with the mature and keenly vindictive skill with which he skewers the same in “Bleak House.”Finally, “Bleak House” is essential Dickens. It’s a mature work and it’s not a light read but it’s an outstanding, powerful work.

  3. NobleRot says:

    Currently finishing up Barnaby Rudge, so I’ll put NN next on deck. Incidentally, Amazon has many of Dickens’ (and others’) books available for FREE in e-book form.

  4. Wisconsin Platt says:

    I always thought that was an Edmund Wells novel….

  5. oschene says:

    I had that facsimile edition, too — it was marvelous. However, I think his crush on his wife’s sister was anything but secret — it’s just that no one in his family seemed to think there was anything wrong with it. It was a different time.

  6. Donald Petersen says:

    My 8th-grade drama class mounted a surprisingly ambitious staging of Nicholas Nickleby wherein I played mean old Uncle Ralph.  As preparation, our teacher had us watch the nine-hour RSC/Channel Four production (our own version wasn’t that ambitious), and even though it took us two weeks to get through it, we never got bored.

    I’m putting the book on my reading list.  Haven’t thought of it in years.

  7. Souse says:

    Why does BoingBoing link to Amazon when this book has been in the public domain for many a year?  eReaders should reference http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/967

    I mean, USD$7.95 and no electronic form?  For a free book?

  8. kiptw says:

    For me, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame (Notre-Dame de Paris) is totally enthralling, and I also found that the longer the translation is, the cooler the book is, because that means they’re leaving in Hugo’s monumental digressions, which were his real reason for writing this amazing epic of horrid love and betrayal by the beautiful people. The only adaptation that ever captured the essential feeling of the book (though sacrificing enough subplots for four more books) was the Classics Illustrated version, illustrated by EC veteran George Evans.

    The I, Claudius two-book set is also fanfarkingtastic and worthy of multiple rereads.

  9. Actually, I think his sister-in-law died BEFORE he wrote Nicholas Nickelby. If I remember correctly, she passed away in 1837, when he was writing The Pickwick Papers and Oliver Twist simultaneously. :) I think I read somewhere that it was the only time he ever missed publishing a serial on time…
    Nicholas Nickelby was serialized soon afterwards, though,  in 1838-39.

    • Jay Kinney says:

      Charlotte: right you are! Thanks for correcting my obviously faulty timeline, written from memory. Dickens’ Martin Chuzzlewit is also a hoot, and it was written after Mary Hogarth’s death as well. Leaving his sister-in-law out of it, the fact remains that I’ve gobbled up the early Dickens novels like irresistible pastries and just bogged down in his middle and late period works. A certain lightness and humor that was there to begin with seemed a rarer commodity as the years went by, for whatever reason. 

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