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1930s presented the writing of the foremost English novelist in its most distinguished format Upon its original publication the set was hailed as one of the most glorious publishing achievements of our time Now the peerless Nonesuch standards have been revived in new editions of Dickens' most beloved works introducing a new generation of readers to these masterpieces of literature illustration and book designThe Nonesuch Press was founded in London by Francis Meynell in 1923 Applying the refinement and expertise of the private press aesthetic to comme. No dark sarcasm in the classroom If you don t eat your meat you can t have any puddingPink Floyd Another Brick in the Wall Pt 2I delight in Dickens class humorsocial satire and irony Nicholas Nickleby was his third novel right after Oliver Twist This novel is lighter than Twist but nearly as influential in pressuring changes to English society in the mid 1800s Here Dickens target was an abusive all male boarding school in Yorkshire In researching for this novel Dickens made visits to this school and based his villainous schoolmaster Wackford Sueers on the Yorkshire master William Shaw who was apparently one brutally cruel son of a bitchOther memorable character names include Newman Noggs clerk to Nickleby s awful Uncle Ralph Nickelby Miss Knag Miss Wittiterly and Lord Frederick Verisopht who is killed in a duel with another of British nobility This included the first romance written by Dickens though it fell considerably short of the one he wrote for David Copperfield In sum I enjoyed it but found the story didn t flow as well as some of his later novels

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Nicholas Nickleby

Dickens' genius for creating eccentric yet entirely captivating characters found its fullest expression in his third novel Nicholas Nickleby published in 1839 The ebullient narrative follows Nicholas as he escapes from the influence of his villainous uncle and the wicked schoolmaster Wackford Sueers stumbles into a theatrical career and pursues his fortune through numerous adventures This Nonesuch edition features the author's final text and the illustrations Dickens himself selected to complement his wordsThe Legendary Nonesuch Dickens issued in the. Peter Ackroyd in his ground breaking biography of Charles Dickens says that Nicholas Nickleby is perhaps the funniest novel in the English language The complete title of the novel is perhaps a bit of a mouthful The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby containing a Faithful Account of the Fortunes Misfortunes Uprisings Downfallings and Complete Career of the Nickleby FamilyIt was published as his previous novels had been in monthly installments between 1838 and 1839 and the last part was again a double issue Whilst Dickens was writing this he was between 26 and 27 years of age and also putting the final touches to his enormously successful Oliver Twist Some of the plot elements and Dickens s social criticisms are very much in the vein of Oliver Twist Yet in many ways the novel is similar to his first installment novel The Pickwick Papers It has a comic rather than a tragic feel and is certainly lightweight and humorous than Oliver Twist It could be classed as ironic social satire pointing up social injustices while full of Dickens s taste for absurdityThe picaresue style of The Pickwick Papers recalls very much the earlier 18th century fashion for vignettes such as those written by Henry Fielding Although Nicholas Nickleby is held together by a continuing saga it is still very episodic subject to shifts in focus and with such a wealth of characters and subplots that the main thrust of the novel occasionally seems to be lost However this episodic feel was still a very popular style of the time When it was published the book was an immediate success further establishing Dickens s reputation Indeed an engraving of one of the most famous portraits of Dickens is used as the frontispiece and is called the Nickleby Portrait Charles Dickens sat for this portrait in June 1839 partway through the serialisation of the novel It was by the artist Daniel Maclise and had been commissioned by Dickens s publishers Chapman and Hall Nicholas Nickleby is typical of many early English novels being focused on one person s life and as such is of a fictional biography than being especially plot driven Unlike his preceding novel Oliver Twist the title character of this is already a young man with family responsibilities at the start of the novel His future is very uncertain due to the death of his father who had made some poor investments The readers sees that the major conflict in this novel is going to be the struggle of a small family to make their way in the world after suffering a tragic loss To some extent this is autobiographical The Nickleby family are genteel but impoverished Dickens s own personal struggles and experiences as a young man were similar since his father had also forfeited his gentility because of financial incompetence In Nicholas Nickleby we are introduced to the protagonist s uncle Ralph Nickleby very near the beginning As soon as Ralph comes on the scene we realise this will add spice to the situation For what a miserable old skinflint he is there was something in his very wrinkles and in his cold restless eye which seemed to tell of cunning that would announce itself in spite of himRalph takes against Nicholas right from the start apparently purely based on envy because Nicholas is young bright and open At this point we realise he is destined to be Nicholas s antagonist And the warning bells begin to ring when we are told that Ralph Nickleby is unscrupulous in his financial dealings because Nicholas has turned to his uncle for assistance hoping for support for his mother and sister after the death of his father Very uickly then we identify Ralph as the villain of the piece And Dickens gives full rein to his talent for inventing over the top characters who stay in the mind far longer than the details of the story itself Who can forget the grotesue headmaster Wackford Sueers with his one eye when the popular prejudice is in favour of twoOr Mrs Nickleby with her rapid barrage of discursions which would put Mrs Bennet of Austen s Pride and Prejudice to shame Or the kindly generous benefactors the Cheeryble brothers Charles and Ned who have built a thriving business on treating others with respect and compassion They address each other as my dear fellow and not only look and act alike but also dress alike and wear white hats As well as the main characters there are a myriad of minor eccentric characters in this novel all of whom are a delight Blink and you may miss them The Crummles s family of actors with their daughter Ninette the starry Infant Phenomenon who at the age of ten had been precisely the same age not perhaps to the full extent of the memory of the oldest inhabitant but certainly for five good years But she had been kept up late every night and put upon an unlimited allowance of gin and water from infancy to prevent her growing tall and perhaps this system of training had produced in the infant phenomenon these additional phenomenaThe other actors unsurprisingly were none too keen on her privileged position The leading man Mr Folair termed her the Infernal Phenomenon Then there is Mrs Mantalini the astute business woman who owns a dressmaking and millinery shop for whom Nicholas s sister Kate is sent to work as a seamstress and her husband a foppish fellow with extravagent tastes given to histrionics and repeated attempts to kill himself There is the fun loving but ultimately self seeking Kenwigs family the revolting lusting scheming old man Arthur Gride denounced as a wretch and a villain and the dastardly nobleman whom we all want to boo Sir Mulberry Hawk The names too are typical Dickens whimsy chosen with an eye to amuse and appeal Dotheboys Hall the vile school where the boys were well and truly done to with Wackford Sueers as its headmaster overkeen on whacking his pupils Miss Knag the spiteful forewoman of the dressmakers and milliners There is Lord Frederick Verisoft soft of brain weak and silly his friend the Honourable Mr Snobb and Sir Mulberry Hawk the most knowing card in the pack who treats everyone including his friends as his prey The Cheeryble brothers now who can read their name without smiling Mrs Wititterly who seems to witter a lot and has an air of sweet insipidity There is such a superfluity of names some in characters who shine brightly for a paragraph or two and then disappear without trace There is Mr Crowl who utters a low uerulous growl and perhaps the best of the lot Sir Tumley Snuffim who is perhaps not such a good doctor if his patients snuff itAll the episodes with these larger than life characters seem tailor made for the stage Many of the speeches seem to cry out for an actor s ringing declamation on stage in a 19th century melodrama Nicholas s way of talking is very stilted and sadly this stiff formal kind of language sometimes does alienate the modern reader such as this a simple acuiescence It s not in my nature to resist any entreaty unless it is to do something positively wrong and beyond a feeling of pride I know nothing which should prevent my doing this I know nobody here and nobody knows me So be it then I yieldDickens does indulge his love of all things theatrical in this novel with a large part of the action being devoted to scenes in Portsmouth where Nickleby aka Mr Johnson both writes and performs in the acting troupes much as Dickens himself did Perhaps this was deliberately so because he dedicates it to his friend the distinguished actor and theatre director William Macready You can see Dickens s love of the theatre in almost every scene here But this makes the tragic scenes so much powerful because of the contrasting comic scenes And who out of the general reading population of the time would really have stayed with a piece of tragic literature about their contemporaries including the poorest of them all had it not been made so hugely entertaining It s a real rarity for the time for an author to focus on the lives of such poor people Noggs and Smike are fully developed characters but few of Dickens s contemporaries Thackeray for instance would bother with them Dickens is uite deliberately appealing to the common people He has the common touch and Trollope s disparaging nickname for him of Mr Popular Sentiment is perhaps not given without a certain amount of malicious envy The characters here are very much larger than life characters but the main characters we are following are sensitively drawn Madeline Bray is an heroic brave character beautiful and self sacrificing going through agonies of mind as she stays loyal to her father depite his despicable deeds The reader is positively willing for her to have a good end The character of Smike the ex Dotheboys Hall boy is portrayed in such an affecting way without resort to sentiment that Dickens manages to tug at our heart strings whenever he comes into the action Then there are those others such as Newman Noggs whom we know has fallen into the service and clutches of Ralph Nickleby through his own weakness for drink Yet throughout we are willing him to somehow escape recognising that here is a man of worth and principle He is virtually a guardian angel to Nicholas because of his benevolence and integrity Dickens makes it abundantly clear to his readers just who are the goodies and who are the baddies This is at root an entertainment of a novel although one very much designed to expose a scandal of the timeFor just as Oliver Twist was intended to alert the largest possible audience to the scandal of the workhouses in the light of the recent changes to the Poor Law Nicholas Nickleby was deliberately written to expose the ugly truth about Yorkshire boarding schools In the preface to the novel Dickens calls Yorkshire schoolmasters Traders in the avarice indifference or imbecility of parents and the helplessness of children ignorant sordid brutal men to whom few considerate persons would have entrusted the board and lodging of a horse or a dog Then in his second preface to the 1848 Cheap Edition he notes that such schools as Dotheboys were common in Yorkshire at the time of writing but had begun to disappear This story was begun within a few months after the publication of the completed Pickwick Papers There were then a good many cheap Yorkshire schools in existence There are very few nowSuch then was the power of a Dickens novel to influence popular opinion When a great author of such stature and persuasive ability aimed his satirical voice at one social problem after another both society and Parliament itself rapidly moved to change things His fiction influenced both public perception and social reform and this is one of the reasons he is truly a great author We know that prior to Nicholas Nickleby Dickens had seen advertisements in the London papers for cheap boarding schools in Yorkshire It was stressed that there were no holidays from these schools Dickens s antennae must have gone up as he knew they were a convenient place to dispose of unwanted or illegitimate children During the writing of Oliver Twist Dickens and his friend Hablot Browne who was to illustrate the book had travelled in secret to Yorkshire to investigate these schools in January 1838 There they met William Shaw the headmaster of Bowes Academy The neglect and maltreatment at this notorious school was responsible for the blindness of several boys and some actually died as a conseuence There is no doubt that Dickens intended the headmaster Wackford Sueers to be a portrayal of William Shaw and that Dotheboys Hall was Bowes Academy It became so infamous that Bowes Academy eventually by 1903 became known as Dotheboys HallMany of the other characters were also based on real life people The character of Miss La Crevy who befriended the Nickleby family was based on the actual person Rosa Emma Drummond who painted a miniature engraved portrait of Dickens on ivory Dickens had commissioned this so that he could give it to his fiancee Catherine Hogarth as an engagement present Like Miss Drummond Miss La Creevy was a good natured middle aged miniature painter described by Dickens as a mincing young lady of fifty Vincent Crummles and his daughter The Infant Phenomenon were based on the actor manager T D Davenport and his nine year old prodigy of a daughter Jean Infant phenomena were a regular feature of many theatrical shows during the early decades of the nineteenth century Davenport and his daughter appeared on the Portsmouth stage in March 1837 Dickens s own mother Elizabeth Dickens was the model for Mrs Nickleby Luckily for Charles she didn t recognise herself in the character In fact she asked someone if they really believed there ever was such a womanAnd most surprising and notable of all is that the Cheeryble brothers were based on real life characters too They are based on two benefactors who were brothers Daniel and William Grant They came from Scotland but settled in Ramsbottom in Greater Manchester although during Dickens s time this will have been thought of as part of the county of Lancashire Some of the fine houses they built are still there For instance St Andrew s Church from 1832 is also known as Grant s Church It was originally consecrated as a Scottish Presbyterian Chapel with a donation of 5000 by William Grant The Grant brothers regularly gave money to promising new enterprises and for education supporting schools libraries and the charitable institutions and when homes and farmlands on Speyside were swept away by floods in 1829 gave 100 to swell The Flood Fund Dickens was keen to make sure everyone knew of these remarkable pair This is from his preface in May 1848 It may be right to say that there are 2 characters in this book which are drawn from life Those who take an interest in this tale will be glad to learn that the Brothers Cheeryble do live that their liberal charity their singleness of heart noble nature and unbounded benevolence are no creatures of the author s brain but are prompting every day some munificent and generous deed in that town of which they are the pride and honour He was writing at breakneck speed again Oliver Twist had overlapped The Pickwick Papers by 10 months and when he started Nicholas Nickleby Oliver Twist was still a long way from being completed So perhaps the persuasive writing he was so keen on the social conscience he displayed in his writing in the early part of this novel feels very familiar because it was written on the same days as the latter half of Oliver Twist He was also of course doing his editing work too Dickens seemed to delight in working under pressure at high speedWhat the reader takes away from this novel is mainly a memory of the dramatic eccentric and uniue characters although probably only a fraction of the total proliferation stay with us We may remember the plot too Yet credit should also be given to Dickens s masterly powers of description which are also very apparent in Nicholas Nickleby Often Dickens will exaggerate for effect or use personification or even the pathetic fallacy where he is keen to convey a mood He is adept at attributing human ualities and emotions to inanimate objects Here s a wonderful description of Arthur Gride a little old man of about seventy or seventy five years of age of a very lean figure much bent and slightly twisted He wore such scanty trousers as displayed his shrunken spindle shanks in their full uglinessHis nose and chin were sharp and prominent his jaws had fallen inwards from loss of teeth his face was shrivelled and yellow save where the cheeks were streaked with the colour of a dry winter apple and where his beard had been there lingered yet a few grey tufts which seemed like the ragged eyebrows to denote the badness of the soil from which they sprung The whole air and attitude of the form was one of stealthy cat like obseuiousness the whole expression of the face was concentrated in a wrinkled leer compounded of cunning lecherousness slyness and avariceAnd here is his house an old house dismal dark and dusty which seemed to have withered like himself and to have grown yellow and shrivelled in hoarding him from the light of day as he had in hoarding his money Meagre old chairs and tables of spare and bony make and hard and cold as misers hearts were ranged in grim array against the gloomy walls attenuated presses grown lank and lantern jawed in guarding the treasures they enclosed and tottering as though from constant fear and dread of thieves shrunk up in dark corners whence they cast no shadows on the ground and seemed to hide and cower from observation Arthur Gride s house thus seems to take on the aspect of a living creature itself as though the essence of its inhabitant had oozed into the very fibres of the house and its contents Of course it is exaggerated and whimsical rather than realistic but it is brilliantly described Here s another example where a different house is described It feels less organic but holds of a portent Kate Nickleby has this to say of the house Ralph acuires for them This house depresses and chills one and seems as if some blight had fallen on it If I were superstitious I should be almost inclined to believe that some dreadful crime had been perpetrated within these old walls and that the place had never prospered since How frowning and how dark it looksSo this house seems to foreshadow the sinister plans that Ralph has for Kate Both of these to me show Dickens s supreme craft as a writer Nicholas Nickleby is partly a bildungsroman a story about the coming of age of the main character and partly a social commentary on injustice The maltreatment of children in the educational system features highly throughout with Dickens using all the tricks of the trade to persuade his readers pathos comedy satire and powerful storytelling He also employs coincidences which we all love in life and melodrama which heightened the entertainment value at the time it was written As well as focusing on the private Yorkshire poor schools savagely condemning those responsible for the system that treated children so cruelly it also indicts those who use fraudulent financial tactics and other dishonest business practices There is certainly a memorable plot and it could be thought of as Three Weddings and a Funeral but there are two funerals here and they are poles apart They are both highly dramatic and tragic because they are ultimately both avoidableSo is it the funniest novel in the English language Well it all depends on your taste It is possibly the funniest novel ever written by Dickens himself Yet it is also extremely poignant sad chilling bitter and it has to be said overblown and melodramatic It is by turns absurd comic tragic and moving It is uintessentially Charles Dickens If you love Dickens you ll love this one don t miss it Uninvited uncle and the wicked schoolmaster Wackford Sueers stumbles into a theatrical career and pursues his fortune through numerous adventures This Nonesuch edition features the author's final text and the illustrations Dickens himself selected to complement his wordsThe Legendary Nonesuch Dickens issued in the. Peter Ackroyd in his ground breaking biography of Charles Dickens says that Nicholas Nickleby is perhaps the funniest novel in the English language The complete title of the novel is perhaps a bit of a mouthful The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby containing a Faithful Account of the Fortunes Misfortunes Uprisings Downfallings and Complete Career of the Nickleby FamilyIt was published as his previous novels had been in monthly installments between 1838 and 1839 and the last part was again a double issue Whilst Dickens was writing this he was between 26 and 27 years of age and also putting the final touches to his enormously successful Oliver Twist Some of the plot elements and Dickens s social criticisms are very much in the vein of Oliver Twist Yet in many ways the novel is similar to his first installment novel The Pickwick Papers It has a comic rather than a tragic feel and is certainly lightweight and humorous than Oliver Twist It could be classed as ironic social satire pointing CaddyGirls up social injustices while full of Dickens s taste for absurdityThe picaresue style of The Pickwick Papers recalls very much the earlier 18th century fashion for vignettes such as those written by Henry Fielding Although Nicholas Nickleby is held together by a continuing saga it is still very episodic subject to shifts in focus and with such a wealth of characters and subplots that the main thrust of the novel occasionally seems to be lost However this episodic feel was still a very popular style of the time When it was published the book was an immediate success further establishing Dickens s reputation Indeed an engraving of one of the most famous portraits of Dickens is Chris (Ties of Passion, used as the frontispiece and is called the Nickleby Portrait Charles Dickens sat for this portrait in June 1839 partway through the serialisation of the novel It was by the artist Daniel Maclise and had been commissioned by Dickens s publishers Chapman and Hall Nicholas Nickleby is typical of many early English novels being focused on one person s life and as such is of a fictional biography than being especially plot driven Unlike his preceding novel Oliver Twist the title character of this is already a young man with family responsibilities at the start of the novel His future is very The Matchmakers Apprentice uncertain due to the death of his father who had made some poor investments The readers sees that the major conflict in this novel is going to be the struggle of a small family to make their way in the world after suffering a tragic loss To some extent this is autobiographical The Nickleby family are genteel but impoverished Dickens s own personal struggles and experiences as a young man were similar since his father had also forfeited his gentility because of financial incompetence In Nicholas Nickleby we are introduced to the protagonist s The Saint Peters Plot uncle Ralph Nickleby very near the beginning As soon as Ralph comes on the scene we realise this will add spice to the situation For what a miserable old skinflint he is there was something in his very wrinkles and in his cold restless eye which seemed to tell of cunning that would announce itself in spite of himRalph takes against Nicholas right from the start apparently purely based on envy because Nicholas is young bright and open At this point we realise he is destined to be Nicholas s antagonist And the warning bells begin to ring when we are told that Ralph Nickleby is Dangerous Waters (Cold Case Files unscrupulous in his financial dealings because Nicholas has turned to his Double Deception (Code Name: Danger uickly then we identify Ralph as the villain of the piece And Dickens gives full rein to his talent for inventing over the top characters who stay in the mind far longer than the details of the story itself Who can forget the grotesue headmaster Wackford Sueers with his one eye when the popular prejudice is in favour of twoOr Mrs Nickleby with her rapid barrage of discursions which would put Mrs Bennet of Austen s Pride and Prejudice to shame Or the kindly generous benefactors the Cheeryble brothers Charles and Ned who have built a thriving business on treating others with respect and compassion They address each other as my dear fellow and not only look and act alike but also dress alike and wear white hats As well as the main characters there are a myriad of minor eccentric characters in this novel all of whom are a delight Blink and you may miss them The Crummles s family of actors with their daughter Ninette the starry Infant Phenomenon who at the age of ten had been precisely the same age not perhaps to the full extent of the memory of the oldest inhabitant but certainly for five good years But she had been kept The Pastor Takes a Wife up late every night and put The Calamity Janes unlimited allowance of gin and water from infancy to prevent her growing tall and perhaps this system of training had produced in the infant phenomenon these additional phenomenaThe other actors Internal Affairs / Protector of One unsurprisingly were none too keen on her privileged position The leading man Mr Folair termed her the Infernal Phenomenon Then there is Mrs Mantalini the astute business woman who owns a dressmaking and millinery shop for whom Nicholas s sister Kate is sent to work as a seamstress and her husband a foppish fellow with extravagent tastes given to histrionics and repeated attempts to kill himself There is the fun loving but Fallen Angel ultimately self seeking Kenwigs family the revolting lusting scheming old man Arthur Gride denounced as a wretch and a villain and the dastardly nobleman whom we all want to boo Sir Mulberry Hawk The names too are typical Dickens whimsy chosen with an eye to amuse and appeal Dotheboys Hall the vile school where the boys were well and truly done to with Wackford Sueers as its headmaster overkeen on whacking his pupils Miss Knag the spiteful forewoman of the dressmakers and milliners There is Lord Frederick Verisoft soft of brain weak and silly his friend the Honourable Mr Snobb and Sir Mulberry Hawk the most knowing card in the pack who treats everyone including his friends as his prey The Cheeryble brothers now who can read their name without smiling Mrs Wititterly who seems to witter a lot and has an air of sweet insipidity There is such a superfluity of names some in characters who shine brightly for a paragraph or two and then disappear without trace There is Mr Crowl who Duister kwaad (Maggie ODell uerulous growl and perhaps the best of the lot Sir Tumley Snuffim who is perhaps not such a good doctor if his patients snuff itAll the episodes with these larger than life characters seem tailor made for the stage Many of the speeches seem to cry out for an actor s ringing declamation on stage in a 19th century melodrama Nicholas s way of talking is very stilted and sadly this stiff formal kind of language sometimes does alienate the modern reader such as this a simple acuiescence It s not in my nature to resist any entreaty A Matter of Chance unless it is to do something positively wrong and beyond a feeling of pride I know nothing which should prevent my doing this I know nobody here and nobody knows me So be it then I yieldDickens does indulge his love of all things theatrical in this novel with a large part of the action being devoted to scenes in Portsmouth where Nickleby aka Mr Johnson both writes and performs in the acting troupes much as Dickens himself did Perhaps this was deliberately so because he dedicates it to his friend the distinguished actor and theatre director William Macready You can see Dickens s love of the theatre in almost every scene here But this makes the tragic scenes so much powerful because of the contrasting comic scenes And who out of the general reading population of the time would really have stayed with a piece of tragic literature about their contemporaries including the poorest of them all had it not been made so hugely entertaining It s a real rarity for the time for an author to focus on the lives of such poor people Noggs and Smike are fully developed characters but few of Dickens s contemporaries Thackeray for instance would bother with them Dickens is Mom Over Miami uite deliberately appealing to the common people He has the common touch and Trollope s disparaging nickname for him of Mr Popular Sentiment is perhaps not given without a certain amount of malicious envy The characters here are very much larger than life characters but the main characters we are following are sensitively drawn Madeline Bray is an heroic brave character beautiful and self sacrificing going through agonies of mind as she stays loyal to her father depite his despicable deeds The reader is positively willing for her to have a good end The character of Smike the ex Dotheboys Hall boy is portrayed in such an affecting way without resort to sentiment that Dickens manages to tug at our heart strings whenever he comes into the action Then there are those others such as Newman Noggs whom we know has fallen into the service and clutches of Ralph Nickleby through his own weakness for drink Yet throughout we are willing him to somehow escape recognising that here is a man of worth and principle He is virtually a guardian angel to Nicholas because of his benevolence and integrity Dickens makes it abundantly clear to his readers just who are the goodies and who are the baddies This is at root an entertainment of a novel although one very much designed to expose a scandal of the timeFor just as Oliver Twist was intended to alert the largest possible audience to the scandal of the workhouses in the light of the recent changes to the Poor Law Nicholas Nickleby was deliberately written to expose the The Latin Surgeon ugly truth about Yorkshire boarding schools In the preface to the novel Dickens calls Yorkshire schoolmasters Traders in the avarice indifference or imbecility of parents and the helplessness of children ignorant sordid brutal men to whom few considerate persons would have entrusted the board and lodging of a horse or a dog Then in his second preface to the 1848 Cheap Edition he notes that such schools as Dotheboys were common in Yorkshire at the time of writing but had begun to disappear This story was begun within a few months after the publication of the completed Pickwick Papers There were then a good many cheap Yorkshire schools in existence There are very few nowSuch then was the power of a Dickens novel to influence popular opinion When a great author of such stature and persuasive ability aimed his satirical voice at one social problem after another both society and Parliament itself rapidly moved to change things His fiction influenced both public perception and social reform and this is one of the reasons he is truly a great author We know that prior to Nicholas Nickleby Dickens had seen advertisements in the London papers for cheap boarding schools in Yorkshire It was stressed that there were no holidays from these schools Dickens s antennae must have gone Nanny in Hiding (The Hathaways of Morgan Creek up as he knew they were a convenient place to dispose of The Ranchers Christmas Match unwanted or illegitimate children During the writing of Oliver Twist Dickens and his friend Hablot Browne who was to illustrate the book had travelled in secret to Yorkshire to investigate these schools in January 1838 There they met William Shaw the headmaster of Bowes Academy The neglect and maltreatment at this notorious school was responsible for the blindness of several boys and some actually died as a conseuence There is no doubt that Dickens intended the headmaster Wackford Sueers to be a portrayal of William Shaw and that Dotheboys Hall was Bowes Academy It became so infamous that Bowes Academy eventually by 1903 became known as Dotheboys HallMany of the other characters were also based on real life people The character of Miss La Crevy who befriended the Nickleby family was based on the actual person Rosa Emma Drummond who painted a miniature engraved portrait of Dickens on ivory Dickens had commissioned this so that he could give it to his fiancee Catherine Hogarth as an engagement present Like Miss Drummond Miss La Creevy was a good natured middle aged miniature painter described by Dickens as a mincing young lady of fifty Vincent Crummles and his daughter The Infant Phenomenon were based on the actor manager T D Davenport and his nine year old prodigy of a daughter Jean Infant phenomena were a regular feature of many theatrical shows during the early decades of the nineteenth century Davenport and his daughter appeared on the Portsmouth stage in March 1837 Dickens s own mother Elizabeth Dickens was the model for Mrs Nickleby Luckily for Charles she didn t recognise herself in the character In fact she asked someone if they really believed there ever was such a womanAnd most surprising and notable of all is that the Cheeryble brothers were based on real life characters too They are based on two benefactors who were brothers Daniel and William Grant They came from Scotland but settled in Ramsbottom in Greater Manchester although during Dickens s time this will have been thought of as part of the county of Lancashire Some of the fine houses they built are still there For instance St Andrew s Church from 1832 is also known as Grant s Church It was originally consecrated as a Scottish Presbyterian Chapel with a donation of 5000 by William Grant The Grant brothers regularly gave money to promising new enterprises and for education supporting schools libraries and the charitable institutions and when homes and farmlands on Speyside were swept away by floods in 1829 gave 100 to swell The Flood Fund Dickens was keen to make sure everyone knew of these remarkable pair This is from his preface in May 1848 It may be right to say that there are 2 characters in this book which are drawn from life Those who take an interest in this tale will be glad to learn that the Brothers Cheeryble do live that their liberal charity their singleness of heart noble nature and Ranchers Perfect Baby Rescue unbounded benevolence are no creatures of the author s brain but are prompting every day some munificent and generous deed in that town of which they are the pride and honour He was writing at breakneck speed again Oliver Twist had overlapped The Pickwick Papers by 10 months and when he started Nicholas Nickleby Oliver Twist was still a long way from being completed So perhaps the persuasive writing he was so keen on the social conscience he displayed in his writing in the early part of this novel feels very familiar because it was written on the same days as the latter half of Oliver Twist He was also of course doing his editing work too Dickens seemed to delight in working Pollinators & Pollinator Habitat on Federal Lands under pressure at high speedWhat the reader takes away from this novel is mainly a memory of the dramatic eccentric and The Reunion (Mystere Parish: Family Inheritance, uniue characters although probably only a fraction of the total proliferation stay with My Favorite Earthling (Otherworldly Men, us We may remember the plot too Yet credit should also be given to Dickens s masterly powers of description which are also very apparent in Nicholas Nickleby Often Dickens will exaggerate for effect or Stranger in Town (Dundee, Idaho, ualities and emotions to inanimate objects Here s a wonderful description of Arthur Gride a little old man of about seventy or seventy five years of age of a very lean figure much bent and slightly twisted He wore such scanty trousers as displayed his shrunken spindle shanks in their full Snowbound with Her Hero uglinessHis nose and chin were sharp and prominent his jaws had fallen inwards from loss of teeth his face was shrivelled and yellow save where the cheeks were streaked with the colour of a dry winter apple and where his beard had been there lingered yet a few grey tufts which seemed like the ragged eyebrows to denote the badness of the soil from which they sprung The whole air and attitude of the form was one of stealthy cat like obseuiousness the whole expression of the face was concentrated in a wrinkled leer compounded of cunning lecherousness slyness and avariceAnd here is his house an old house dismal dark and dusty which seemed to have withered like himself and to have grown yellow and shrivelled in hoarding him from the light of day as he had in hoarding his money Meagre old chairs and tables of spare and bony make and hard and cold as misers hearts were ranged in grim array against the gloomy walls attenuated presses grown lank and lantern jawed in guarding the treasures they enclosed and tottering as though from constant fear and dread of thieves shrunk Outback Bridegroom (Koomera Crossing) up in dark corners whence they cast no shadows on the ground and seemed to hide and cower from observation Arthur Gride s house thus seems to take on the aspect of a living creature itself as though the essence of its inhabitant had oozed into the very fibres of the house and its contents Of course it is exaggerated and whimsical rather than realistic but it is brilliantly described Here s another example where a different house is described It feels less organic but holds of a portent Kate Nickleby has this to say of the house Ralph acuires for them This house depresses and chills one and seems as if some blight had fallen on it If I were superstitious I should be almost inclined to believe that some dreadful crime had been perpetrated within these old walls and that the place had never prospered since How frowning and how dark it looksSo this house seems to foreshadow the sinister plans that Ralph has for Kate Both of these to me show Dickens s supreme craft as a writer Nicholas Nickleby is partly a bildungsroman a story about the coming of age of the main character and partly a social commentary on injustice The maltreatment of children in the educational system features highly throughout with Dickens A Royal Christmas Proposal using all the tricks of the trade to persuade his readers pathos comedy satire and powerful storytelling He also employs coincidences which we all love in life and melodrama which heightened the entertainment value at the time it was written As well as focusing on the private Yorkshire poor schools savagely condemning those responsible for the system that treated children so cruelly it also indicts those who The Texas Wildcatters Baby use fraudulent financial tactics and other dishonest business practices There is certainly a memorable plot and it could be thought of as Three Weddings and a Funeral but there are two funerals here and they are poles apart They are both highly dramatic and tragic because they are A Royal Christmas Proposal / A Texas Rescue Christmas ultimately both avoidableSo is it the funniest novel in the English language Well it all depends on your taste It is possibly the funniest novel ever written by Dickens himself Yet it is also extremely poignant sad chilling bitter and it has to be said overblown and melodramatic It is by turns absurd comic tragic and moving It is Sheer Pleasure uintessentially Charles Dickens If you love Dickens you ll love this one don t miss it

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Rcial publishing Nonesuch books were among the most elegant and treasured volumes produced in the first half of the twentieth century The fabled Nonesuch Dickens was the Press' most ambitious project treasured both for its uality and its rarity only 877 twenty four volume sets were issued and complete original sets have sold recently at auction for than 30000Employing modern printing technology seven decades later each book in the revived Nonesuch Dickens replicates the enduring editorial and design excellence of its inspiration at an affordable price. When the name of the cruel schoolmaster is Wackford Sueers you just know it s going to be good Nicholas himself can sometimes be a bit prissy but this serves well as a foil for the many extreme characters that surround him and he s a lot feisty than the relatively miluetoast David Copperfield This is classic Dickens at the height of his powers My generic comment about Charles DickensFirst of all although I am a partisan of Dickens writing and have read and relished most his works I concede to three flaws in his oeuvre that are not insignificant First while he seemed to develop an almost endless variety of male social types his female characters are much less well developed Second although he portrayed the stark brutality of economic and class ineuality with unparalleled clarity his diagnosis of what needs to be done is flaccidly liberal suggesting that the wealthy should simply be nicer and generous to the pooryet his writings did propitiate structural changes eg to the Poor Laws in his lifetime Third in tying up the loose threads of his extremely complex plots he often pushes this reader past the boundary of the reasonable suspension of disbelief Some readers also object to his sentimentalism or to his grotesue characters but I find these extremes create a dynamism in combination with his social criticism These caveats aside I deeply enjoy reading Dickens for a number of reasons He exhibits stratospheric gifts of imagination in portraying extremes of human character in extreme situations His idiosyncratic characters each have an unmistakable and unforgettable voice His highly crafted language is endlessly inventive and evocative Finally he created a parade of some of the funniest evilest and most pathetic characters one will ever encounter and although extreme they also ring true to euivalent characters from any time The Black Ice Score (Parker, unparalleled clarity his diagnosis of what needs to be done is flaccidly liberal suggesting that the wealthy should simply be nicer and generous to the pooryet his writings did propitiate structural changes eg to the Poor Laws in his lifetime Third in tying The Black Painting up the loose threads of his extremely complex plots he often pushes this reader past the boundary of the reasonable suspension of disbelief Some readers also object to his sentimentalism or to his grotesue characters but I find these extremes create a dynamism in combination with his social criticism These caveats aside I deeply enjoy reading Dickens for a number of reasons He exhibits stratospheric gifts of imagination in portraying extremes of human character in extreme situations His idiosyncratic characters each have an Fire and Desire unmistakable and The Forgotten Memoir of John Knox unforgettable voice His highly crafted language is endlessly inventive and evocative Finally he created a parade of some of the funniest evilest and most pathetic characters one will ever encounter and although extreme they also ring true to euivalent characters from any time


10 thoughts on “Nicholas Nickleby

  1. says:

    Peter Ackroyd in his ground breaking biography of Charles Dickens says that Nicholas Nickleby is perhaps the funniest nove

  2. says:

    Reading Dickens is like taking a deep breath of air feeling life in its most vivid formBeing completely faithless and ill

  3. says:

    The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby Charles DickensThe novel centers on the life and adventures of Nicholas Nickleby a young man who must support his mother and sister after his father dies Nicholas Nickleby's father dies unexpectedly after losing all of his money in a poor investment Nicholas his mother and his younger si

  4. says:

    The third book of Charles Dickens Nicholas Nickleby has some marked differences from the other Dickens books I've read Except Oliver

  5. says:

    Was there ever a novelist with a bigger heart than Charles Dickens? This is the sixth Dickens book I’ve read including the novella A Christmas Carol And like most of his other works it’s expansive bursting with all manner of incident and life Some of that life mind you goes ON AND ON And a few scenes about social gracesmanners might need explaining to a contemporary reader But the overall effect if you ignore the

  6. says:

    No dark sarcasm in the classroom If you don't eat your meat you can't have any puddingPink Floyd Another Brick in the Wall Pt 2I delight in Dickens' class humorsocial satire and irony Nicholas Nickleby was his thir

  7. says:

    When the name of the cruel schoolmaster is Wackford Sueers you just know it's going to be good Nicholas himself can sometimes be a bit prissy but this serves well as a foil for the many extreme characters that surround him and he's a lot feisty than the relatively miluetoast David Copperfield This is classic Dickens at the height of his powers My generic comment about Charles DickensFirst of all although I am a partisan

  8. says:

    I'm glad that Classics Corner at Constant Reader elected to read NN for its April book as I've intended for a while to return to my goal of read

  9. says:

    Well fan my brow I’ve been wandering around this world for years telling anyone who will listen that my favourite Dickens novel is David Copperfield with conviction which cannot be rivalled I’m all a flutter now Nickleby has come along and knocked Copperfield from the top spotWhat an absolute triumph this novel is All of my favourite Dickens staples are firmly present Victorian social customs comedy vill

  10. says:

    I’m really not sure why I like Dickens so much He is predictable there will be coincidences that could never happen in the real world and in the end everyone will get their just deserts except for the poor sad creature who is destined to see heaven ahead of his time Ah but he does it with so much style and panache He creates characters yo

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