Item description for The Old Curiosity Shop (Penguin Classics) by Charles Dickens & Norman Page...
Overview Little Nell Trent lives in the quiet gloom of the old curiosity shop with her ailing grandfather, for whom she cares with selfless devotion. But when they are unable to pay their debts to the loathsome Quilp, the shop is seized and they are forced to flee, thrown into a shadowy world in which there seems to be no safe haven.
This edition, based on the original text of 1841, contains an introduction discussing the various contrasting themes of the novel and its roots in Dickens's own personal tragedy, with prefaces to the 1841 and 1848 editions, a chronology, notes and the original illustrations produced for the serial version. 576 pages, paperback. From Penguin Classics.
Publishers Description The sensational bestselling story of Little Nell, the beautiful child thrown into a shadowy, terrifying world, seems to belong less to the history of the Victorian novel than to folklore, fairy tale, or myth. The sorrows of Nell and her grandfather are offset by Dickens's creation of a dazzling contemporary world inhabited by some of his most brilliantly drawn characters-the eloquent ne'er-do-well Dick Swiveller; the hungry maid known as the "Marchioness"; the mannish lawyer Sally Brass; Quilp's brow-beaten mother-in-law; and Quilp himself, the lustful, vengeful dwarf, whose demonic energy makes a vivid counterpoint to Nell's purity.
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Studio: Penguin Classics
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 7.68" Width: 5.52" Height: 1.09" Weight: 0.9 lbs.
Release Date Jul 1, 2001
Publisher Penguin Classics
ISBN 0140437428 ISBN13 9780140437423
Availability 0 units.
More About Charles Dickens & Norman Page
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.
Reviews - What do customers think about The Old Curiosity Shop (Penguin Classics)?
Another great Dickens child protagonist Jan 14, 2008
Little Nell is the protagonist of Charles Dickens's _The Old Curiosity Shop_. This sweet, angelic, beautiful, almost godly young adolescent, travels throughout England with her beloved grandfather to escape the clutches of the evil, money-hungry dwarf, Quilp. Like many of the child heroes/heroine of his books, Nell lives in dire circumstances. Everyone seems to love her and she often repays these kindnesses, not monetarily, by performing little acts of goodness towards these individuals. There is nothing Nell or grandfather would not do for each other, including engaging in gambling at cards so that he could win enough money to support Nell. Unfortunately, her grandfather is an inept card player.
Other children in the book include Kit (Christopher), a friend of Little Nell's, and his younger brother. Kit is a good and honest young adolescent, who is falsely set up by several dishonest and venial adults in the novel as a thief. Dickens goes into some detail about Kit's travails, as well as the suffering of Kit's loving mother and of his innocent little brother. As usual, Dickens is very strong in character development and the reader must bear the ghastly way Kit, his mother, and even Quilp's wife are treated. Assisting Quilp in the intended ruination of Kit are the completely slimy lawyers, Sampson Brass and his "lovely," equally corrupt sister, Sarah. Other decent characters in the novel include Richard Swiveller and his woman friend, whom Richard lends the sobriquet, the Marchioness. Her tininess of stature stands in contrast to her worthiness.
Although many avid fans of Charles Dickens's works know of the fate of Little Nell, I will not ruin this part for those who intend to read this novel by revealing it. Also, unlike Oscar Wilde, I cannot be as blithely cruel as Mr. Wilde by stating that a certain section of the novel made me laugh. I loved Nell as much as the other people who knew her did, and found her to be one of the most unforgettable characters in all of literature.
Little Nell was an Idea That Dickens Had to Revive Sales, but it Does Not Quite Work Aug 7, 2007
This is among the bottom four novels by Dickens and it ranks a mediocre #25 in sales among the Dickens novels and short story collections. There is a reason. Unfortunately, this is a poorly planned and executed novel, partially saved by a few interesting characters including little Nell and Kit. It is not one of his great ones; and, if you are new to Dickens be encouraged because the others are mostly better.
After reading many of Dickens's novels and short stories in the last year or two, my pick for the best is the 750 page David Copperfield. It is both entertaining and it is a literary masterpiece, or close to it. There is a degree of charm and enthusiasm that is better the other novels. Oliver Twist is a close second, and I like the sleeper that is less well known: Nicholas Nickleby. Great Expectations is one of the lighter and fast moving novels, and it is very popular with many readers. It is a shorter work, about 400 pages. The novel does have a few interesting and famous Dickens characters such as the protagonist, Pip, Miss Havisham, and Abel Magwitch. Tale of Two Cities is a good read as well, and Edwin Drood is the worst book. Skip that one.
Now, back to the present book. Dickens only real writing failure was the Master Humphrey's Clock series which was stopped due to readership rejection after approximately six serial publications, and the readers had mostly gone after the first story. It followed his third and wildly popular novel, Nicholas Nickleby. In short, he departed from his popular themes and got ahead of the readers. As a result, he found himself with no audience. In his next novel, "The Old Curiosity Shop," he refers in the forward to the Humphrey series as "desultory" and was obviously not content with his own efforts there. But he carries some of the problems of that failed series into the present novel. He searched for a literary mechanism to get the readers back for his fourth novel, the present novel, and he decided that a small vulnerable girl surrounded by grotesque characters would make a good theme, hence we have the present novel.
The first few chapters of The Old Curiosity Shop follow the narrative style of Humphrey's Clock. But then after three chapters he switches gears. There is a feeling of darkness or foreboding in the novel that is not offset with positive characters, and instead it is dominated by the negative the character named Quilp, who is a wife beater and nasty character. His impact on the story is very negative. There are few sympathetic characters here, unlike say Oliver Twist where we have an array of nasty people offset by good characters. Also, the novel contains two parallel plots which leaves the reader somewhat scratching their head and wondering why?
Overall, I thought the read was just average or worse. It is not a difficult read. The reading experience is smooth and sometimes interesting. I read the book then read the analysis and found that I agreed almost completely with the critical analysis: it is was a problem novel. It contains many signature elements of a Dickens novel, but also includes many problems and poor planning for the story. Dickens tried to save it using a highly dramatic ending in the last few chapters. But is it enough? I think not: too little too late.
As background information, I am in the process of reading most of Dickens's 22 novels and longer short stories, and set up a Listmania list. As a suggestion, avoid the Penguin Popular Classics with the plain green covers (I bought two). They fall apart and do not stand up to a read, especially books over 500 pages in length. The Regular Penguin Classics with the photo or painting on the front are excellent and some have maps and illustrations (drawings). The Wordsworth Classics are not as good, and some are illustrated.
Little Nell dies but this great novel is vibrant with life, laughter and pathos Jan 11, 2007
The Old Curiosity Shop appeared in 1840-1841 in monthly installments in a magazine edited by the young Charles Dickens (1812-1870). The novel was an instant success winning the author of "The Pickwick Papers" and "Oliver Twist" great fame and riches. The long novel deals with Little Nell Trent. She lives in the Old Curiostiy Shop with her granfather. He is an alcoholic old man who is weak and has a dangerous gambling addiction. Due to this vice he loses his shop which is taken over by the evil dwarf Quilp. Quilp delights in evil and is one of Dickens most malevolently grotesque creations. Nell and her granfather flee London encountering many adventures and meet many characters on their peregrinations throughout England. Among the most interesting characters are the kindly schoolmaster who befriends the hapless pair; Mrs. Jarley who owns a waxworks employing in a time of dire need and the old church sexton who shares advice on eternity with Nell. Back in London we meet the man about town Dick Swiveller and Nell's wild brother Fred Trent. Swiveller becomes a clerk at the notorious lawfirm of Sampson Brass and his mannish sister Sally Brass who is also an attorney. Here in this law office we meet the little servant the Marchioness who falls in love with Swiveller. Kit Nubbles works for Quilp and is accused of theft by Brass. He is an endearing simpleminded young man who cares for Nell. He and his mother and family are delightful. Nell dies as the novel concludes. She is modelled on Dickens' 17 year old sister-in-law Mary Hogarth who died in that year of her short life. Dickens mourned for her all of his days. Nell is an etheral angelic girl who lacks realism but does make one love her. A New York mob awaited the arrival of the installment dealing with her demise by crying out "Does Little Nell live?" Alas, the answer is no regarding the charcter but yes in literary annals. She will always live as long as Dickensians savor this fine novel. "The Old Curiosity Shop" is episodic but does contain scense of great comicality and wit. Dickens also writes a good mystery story and this novel is no exception as we learn who the solitary gentleman is! This is a good novel to begin your reading of the immense corpus of works left by Dickens. I enjoyed it very much. The period illustrations in the Penguin edition are also an enhanced pleasure to the total experience of this journey back to the days when Victoria ruled the British Empire. Excellent!
The Old Curiosity shop Jul 20, 2005
i have never read Dickens before, and I found this book intriging. I love his characters, and the way he intertwined all of them, and brought them all together in the end.
A strange brew May 19, 2005
A Curiosity, indeed, that Dickens should still be read today when most of his then-popular contemporaries are long forgotten. His stories are rambling, with little action, and sometimes don't even make sense. They take place in a mystical early Victorian age that exists only in Dickens's imagination, and the characters are placed like chess pieces in their places to be manipulated.
But what characters! Little Nell, Daniel Quilp, Dick Swiveller and the Marchioness, Sally Brass - just the names bring a fully detailed picture to life with all their delicious idiosyncrasies. It's in them that Dickens's appeal lives on.
This book was written in installments for a magazine, and the chapters don't always follow one another logically, so that's the way I read it, a chapter or two at a time, without worrying too much about continuity. It's a strange mix of sentimentality and sexual perversity, innocence and evil sometimes repelling one another and sometimes attracting one another.
It's not a good introduction to Dickens, but a definite recommendation for the Dickens veteran.