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Great Expectations (Classic Fiction)

By Charles Dickens & Anton Lesser (Narrator)
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Item description for Great Expectations (Classic Fiction) by Charles Dickens & Anton Lesser...

Cambridge Literature is a series of literary texts edited for study by students aged 14-18 in English-speaking classrooms. It will include novels, poetry, short stories, essays, travel-writing and other non-fiction. The series will be extensive and open-ended and will provide school students with a range of edited texts taken from a wide geographical spread. It will feature writing in English from various genres and differing times.

Dickens considered Great Expectations one of his "little pieces," and indeed, it is slim compared to such weighty novels as David Copperfield or Nicholas Nickleby. But what this cautionary tale of a young man raised high above his station by a mysterious benefactor lacks in length, it more than makes up for in its remarkable characters and compelling story. The novel begins with young orphaned Philip Pirrip--Pip--running afoul of an escaped convict in a cemetery. This terrifying personage bullies Pip into stealing food and a file for him, threatening that if he tells a soul "your heart and your liver shall be tore out, roasted and ate." The boy does as he's asked, but the convict is captured anyway, and transported to the penal colonies in Australia. Having started his novel in a cemetery, Dickens then ups the stakes and introduces his hero into the decaying household of Miss Havisham, a wealthy, half-mad woman who was jilted on her wedding day many years before and has never recovered. Pip is brought there to play with Miss Havisham's ward, Estella, a little girl who delights in tormenting Pip about his rough hands and future as a blacksmith's apprentice.
I had never thought of being ashamed of my hands before; but I began to consider them a very indifferent pair. Her contempt for me was so strong, that it became infectious, and I caught it.
It is an infection that Pip never quite recovers from; as he spends more time with Miss Havisham and the tantalizing Estella, he becomes more and more discontented with his guardian, the kindhearted blacksmith, Joe, and his childhood friend Biddy. When, after several years, Pip becomes the heir of an unknown benefactor, he leaps at the chance to leave his home and friends behind to go to London and become a gentleman. But having expectations, as Pip soon learns, is a two-edged sword, and nothing is as he thought it would be. Like that other "little piece," A Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations is different from the usual Dickensian fare: the story is dark, almost surreal at times, and you'll find few of the author's patented comic characters and no comic set pieces. And yet this is arguably the most compelling of Dickens's novels for, unlike David Copperfield or Martin Chuzzlewit, the reader can never be sure that things will work out for Pip. Even Dickens apparently had his doubts--he wrote two endings for this novel. --Alix Wilber

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Item Specifications...

Format: Abridged,   Audiobook
Studio: Naxos Audiobooks
Pages   4
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 1" Width: 6" Height: 5.25"
Weight:   0.45 lbs.
Binding  CD
Publisher   Naxos Audiobooks
ISBN  9626340827  
ISBN13  9789626340820  

Availability  0 units.

More About Charles Dickens & Anton Lesser

Charles Dickens Charles Dickens was born on February 7, 1812, in Landport, Portsea, England. He died in Kent on June 9, 1870. The second of eight children of a family continually plagued by debt, the young Dickens came to know not only hunger and privation, but also the horror of the infamous debtors' prison and the evils of child labor. A turn of fortune in the shape of a legacy brought release from the nightmare of prison and "slave" factories and afforded Dickens the opportunity of two years' formal schooling at Wellington House Academy. He worked as an attorney's clerk and newspaper reporter until his Sketches by Boz (1836) and The Pickwick Papers (1837) brought him the amazing and instant success that was to be his for the remainder of his life. In later years, the pressure of serial writing, editorial duties, lectures, and social commitments led to his separation from Catherine Hogarth after twenty-three years of marriage. It also hastened his death at the age of fifty-eight, when he was characteristically engaged in a multitude of work.

David Pascoe is Lecturer in English Literature at the University of Glasgow. He has also edited Thackeray's The Newcomers for Penguin Classics.

Charles Dickens was born in 1812 and died in 1870.

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Product Categories

1Books > Audio CDs > Authors, A-Z > ( D ) > Dickens, Charles
2Books > Audio CDs > Literature & Fiction > Classics
3Books > Audio CDs > Literature & Fiction > General
4Books > Special Features > New & Used Textbooks
5Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Authors, A-Z > ( D ) > Dickens, Charles > General
6Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Classics
7Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Literary
8Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General
9Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > World Literature > British > British > Dickens, Charles

Reviews - What do customers think about Great Expectations (Classic Fiction)?

What's in addition in this edition  Feb 4, 2010
Since a potential buyer might be wondering which edition to buy, I've decided to give a brief review of the edition instead of one of the story.

This is the 2003 reissue of the 1986 edition of the Bantam classic edition. This edition has the 1986 introduction by John Irving. It contains the Dickens classic in its intact form, with the original ending following it separately. It is 528 pages.

When Dickens first wrote Great Expectations, it had a different ending. There are some who feel that the original ending is more in line with modern tastes, and that Dickens "caved in" by changing the unhappy ending to one that was "more acceptable." Some feel that Dickens went too far in order to cater to his audience rather than stick to a literary standard. In the introduction, Irving discusses this issue among many others and suggests that Dickens was not so much driven by the audience as he was in touch with their lives when it came to inspiration. Ideas in literature may seem fantastic and improbable, but Irving points to events in Dickens's life that would seem equally improbable had they appeared in fiction. He also mentions modern real life events that, if put in a novel a decade earlier, would have seemed impossibly unrealistic.

Yes, Dickens was an optimist. But the new ending is not a "happily ever after" one so much as one that leaves the door open. I can't think of anything more suitable for a book entitled "Great Expectations."

Love is...beautiful and heartbreaking.  Dec 20, 2009
Philip Pirrip, otherwise known as Pip, has great expectations. Given the opportunity to become 'a gentleman', his life becomes a quest fueled by his misguided and false hopes and dreams. And most of all: of unrequited love. All of which unravels.

There is something there for everyone: mystery, thriller, drama, comedy, social commentary, romance (in a twisted sort of way). GE is about human nature and love, forgiveness and hope; a perfect blending of all these gritty elements that make up Life.

I'm not going to go into the plot, others have done it, and much better than I ever could. What I will say is that Great Expectations is a book that everyone should try to read. Don't rush, but peruse, read slowly, savor it, appreciate it. The characters are vivid and heart-breaking, the personal growth of Pip from young boy to man, emotional and dramatic. You will feel for all the characters that will stay with you long after you've finished it.

The introduction by Irving should be read. But AFTERWARDS. He gives an interesting biosketch on Dickens, the story arch and influences of GE. I was definitely enriched for having read it. The back also has the Original Ending of GE that Dicken's wrote, a list of works and a short but concise bibliography about Dicken's the man and his works.

This was my first read of Dicken's and I was expecting a book bogged down and heavy with prose or overtly poetic speeches, and a book that would make me want to go to sleep: I was pleasantly surprised. While the style can be difficult & you will have to re-read parts of it, it's manageable, though, it's a good idea to have a dictionary on hand. There are parts that do go on and chapters that seem static, but the language and rendering of 19th century England and the characters make it all the worth while. Only then, will you understand why this book is a true Classic.
Loved the story  Sep 15, 2009
I got this book for my grandson, but I read it many years ago and also saw the movie when I was around eleven years old. It had an emotional impact on me then, maybe partly because I liked the girl who was about my own age then.

Besides the quality of the writing and the interesting story, the book gives one some idea of a period of history.

I would give it five stars, but my grandson didn't seem to like it. I think one has to take much are in choosing books for kids, as some will dislike, and others will like, the same book for no apparent reason. It is just the personality of the kid. The applies even more so to toys.
A More Mature Dickens, But Not His Best  Jul 24, 2009
"Great Expectations" was Charles Dickens' third attempt at writing semi-autobiography, and his most successful. Poor Oliver Twist barely registers in his own book, while David Copperfield becomes a pasteboard figure after reaching adulthood. Pip only grows richer and more complex, and it's no wonder critics thus see "Great Expectations" as the best of the lot.

We open with the finest sequence in the novel, along a swampy coastline in southern England where a small boy at his parent's grave is threatened by a desperate convict. The convict wants food and a file to help cut him free. The boy, Pip, must wrestle with some serious guilt, not to mention the threat of his sister and guardian's overzealous discipline. Social expectations cut one way, but a rogue feeling of sympathy for the convict guides him another. Which will win out?

Pip's a bit of a prat, but he's meant to be. After coming into some mysterious money, the former blacksmith's apprentice abandons those who love him in a doomed attempt to win over Estella, the high-class, heart-challenged ward of balmy Miss Havisham. Estella bothers some people. How could Pip love her? Man, I've been there, and I reckon a lot of others have been, too. Estella is one of the great fictional representations of unrequited love, and in Dickens' hands, becomes something even more potent, a symbol of class division and status-scrambling folly.

Dickens' handling of Pip is subtle and worth careful re-reading. By using the device of an older, unseen Pip as narrator, we sense where he fell astray without it being pointed out overmuch. Clashing with a snooty rival for Estella's affections, he sweats the possibility of being discovered as the friend of a guileless village blacksmith, Joe: "So throughout life our worst weaknesses and meannesses are usually committed for the sake of the people whom we most despise."

Whenever the focus is on Pip, particularly when dealing with Estella, Miss Havisham, or the mysterious, vaguely creepy lawyer Mr. Jaggers, "Great Expectations" is both high art and a great read. Dickens' descriptive powers remained in high beam in this, his penultimate novel (completed in 1861). The storyline takes its time, but in such a way that it often feels like a prototype for the stream-of-consciousness narrative authors would employ a century later.

If only "Great Expectations" didn't suffer from one of Dickens' chief bête noires, compounding coincidences. Whether it's the identity of Estella's long-lost father or Miss Havisham's unworthy suitor, too many of the plot strands wind up twisted together to unwholesome effect.

Other plot strings, like the tale of a blackguard named Orlick or the romances of Pip's pals Herbert Pocket and Wemmick, do little to merit the lengthy attention they receive. Most annoying is the story of Compeyson, built up as Pip's main adversary. Yet we hardly meet the guy before he vanishes in the black waters of Dickens' top-heavy plot machinations.

Except for Jaggers, Estella, and Miss Havisham, "Great Expectations" suffers from an uninteresting cast of supporting characters. But when you have three such meaty characters, not to mention the noble yet shifting Pip at the center, you have one eminently worthy novel. Add to that Dickens' descriptive abilities, and that harrowing opening, and "Great Expectations" delivers most of the way on its title's promise.
OVERrated  Jun 21, 2009
In the first twenty or thirty pages, I was pleasantly surprised by Dickens's humor and had great expectations for his storytelling and prose-writing talent.

I mean he is hailed as one of the greatest literary giants of English literature, as well as one of the most popular novelists of his time.

But alas, my great expectations were dashed mercilessly, and I found myself - not unlike how Pip finds himself in the last portion of the novel - banging my head against the hard, boundless boredom that permeated the first 300 pages of non-drama, non-action, and non-story whose only saving grace was that it was not endless.

In the beginning, Dickens sustains the story with action, and there's nothing wrong with that as it makes the story more engaging. But aside from that in the first interminable and insufferable two stages of "Pip's Great Expectations" that span exactly 300 pages, I was thoroughly disappointed in Dickens. Other than Pip getting rich all of a sudden, NOTHING happens: no desire, no real conflict, no gaps, no turning points.

As far as the story is concerned, the 300 pages is crap.

I said it. Don't gasp.

The story finally, finally, finally picks up when Pip finds out the identity of his benefactor, goes through rather inexplicable mental ordeals about accepting the truth along with free money and sentimental outbursts with his "dear friend" Herbert about pretty much everything, followed by an incredibly maudlin confrontation with the guilt-stricken Ms. Havisham and a final showdown with the villainous Orlick into whose clutches Pip idiotically falls with a stupid letter that gives him little reason to risk the whole grand escape plan he and Herbert hatch for the next day.

My conclusion: this book is overrated.

Why is it that academics pick these boring books that can't tell stories as part of the western canon? I love reading classics, thanks, but THIS?

The book displays a glaring lack of storytelling talent, psychological insight, and restraint. His prose is dense, sprawling, and unseemly as sentences are connected by ugly semicolons and don't flow beautifully at all. The scenes are more told than shown to the detriment of the flow of the story, and characters burst out into mawkish sentiments left and right.


People are irresistibly drawn to anything related to themselves. I have a sneaking suspicion that the academics who bill this book as "most fascinating" and "greatest and most sophisticated work" see THEIR prominent characteristic in it.

Cloying, verbose, mediocre at best in the story composition, and irresistibly boring for the first 300 pages, it's "most fascinating" in the perplexing literary status it garnered over the years, "greatest" in its unnecessary length,and "most sophisticated" in the exquisite boredom it creates at that threshold pitch that is above sleep-inducing but below engaging.

I won't be reading another Dickens in a long time.

Read something else and save your time.

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