Pip's life as an ordinary country boy is destined to be unexceptional until a chain of mysterious events lead him away from his humble origins and up the social ladder. His efforts to become a London gentleman bring him into contact not just with the upper classes but also with dangerous criminals. Pip's desire to improve himself is matched only by his longing for the icy-hearted Estella, but secrets from the past impede his progress and he has many hard lessons to learn.
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He's a marvellous writer... He's very, very good -
A story of the traumas of sex and class. My favourite moment is the one where Magwitch makes his stumbling way up the shadowy staircase towards an unnerved but unsuspecting Pip: the halting but inexorable rise of the repressed 'from the darkness beneath' -
This was the author's last great work, the defects in it are as nearly imperceptible as spots on the sun or shadows on a sunlit sea -
I would always prefer to go get another Dickens off the shelf than pick up a new book by someone I've not read yet... I love the tradition of Dickens, where even the most minor walk-on characters are twitching and particular and alive -
There is no one Dickens novel I could pick over all the others. Dickens is huge-like the sky. Pick any page of Dickens and it's immediately recognizable as him, yet he might be doing social satire, or farce, or horror, or a psychological study of a murderer-or any combination of these -
Charles Dickens was born on 7 February 1812 in Landport in Portsmouth. When he was twelve years old he was sent to work in a shoe polish factory because his father had been imprisoned for debt. The Pickwick Papers, his first commercial success, was published in 1836, the same year that he married Catherine Hogarth. The serialisation of Oliver Twist began in 1837 while The Pickwick Papers was still running. Dickens became a celebrity in America as well as Britain. He set up and edited the journals Household Words (1850-9) and All the Year Round (1859-70). Charles Dickens died on 9 June 1870 leaving his last novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, unfinished. He is buried in Westminster Abbey.