Our Mutual Friend: Introduction by Andrew Sanders

Our Mutual Friend: Introduction by Andrew Sanders

Our Mutual Friend: Introduction by Andrew Sanders

Our Mutual Friend: Introduction by Andrew Sanders

Hardcover(Reissue)

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Overview

Notes From Your Bookseller

The last completed work of Charles Dickens retains his buoyant narrative voice, unique and intentional characters and sheer depth of meaning. It all begins with an inheritance and spirals into a memorable story satirizing life, death and the state of industrial London.

When John Harmon—who has been left a fortune if he will marry the girl his miserly father chose for him—is found floating dead in the Thames, he sets in motion a story overflowing with cases of deception and mistaken identity, of murder and attempted murder, of sin and redemption. The influence of the notorious Harmon inheritance ripples through a large cast of vividly drawn characters from every level of society, including Noddy Boffin, known as “the Golden Dustman”; the one-legged villain Silas Wegg; willful Bella Wilfer; saintly Lizzie Hexam; the sharp-witted doll’s dressmaker Jenny Wren; the social-climbing Veneerings; the ruthless speculator Fascination Fledgeby; and the river-scavenging corpse robbers Gaffer Hexam and Rogue Riderhood. Out of this flurry of invention Dickens creates in Our Mutual Friend a portrait of a city and a civilization that is at once indignant, compassionate, and utterly unforgettable.

Charles Dickens’s last completed novel features one of his most surreal and haunting visions of  London, shadowed by towering dust heaps that supply the corrupting riches at the heart of the plot and washed by the dark river that winds its way insistently through the story.

This edition reprints the original Everyman’s preface by G. K. Chesterton and features forty illustrations by Marcus Stone.


Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780679420286
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/10/1994
Series: Everyman's Library Classics Series
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 880
Sales rank: 656,099
Product dimensions: 5.22(w) x 8.29(h) x 1.87(d)
Lexile: 1090L (what's this?)

About the Author

About The Author
Charles Dickens was born in a little house in Landport, Portsea, England, on February 7, 1812. The second of eight children, he grew up in a family frequently beset by financial insecurity. At age eleven, Dickens was taken out of school and sent to work in London backing warehouse, where his job was to paste labels on bottles for six shillings a week. His father John Dickens, was a warmhearted but improvident man. When he was condemned the Marshela Prison for unpaid debts, he unwisely agreed that Charles should stay in lodgings and continue working while the rest of the family joined him in jail. This three-month separation caused Charles much pain; his experiences as a child alone in a huge city–cold, isolated with barely enough to eat–haunted him for the rest of his life.

When the family fortunes improved, Charles went back to school, after which he became an office boy, a freelance reporter and finally an author. With Pickwick Papers (1836-7) he achieved immediate fame; in a few years he was easily the post popular and respected writer of his time. It has been estimated that one out of every ten persons in Victorian England was a Dickens reader. Oliver Twist (1837), Nicholas Nickleby (1838-9) and The Old Curiosity Shop (1840-41) were huge successes. Martin Chuzzlewit (1843-4) was less so, but Dickens followed it with his unforgettable, A Christmas Carol (1843), Bleak House (1852-3), Hard Times (1854) and Little Dorrit (1855-7) reveal his deepening concern for the injustices of British Society. A Tale of Two Cities (1859), Great Expectations (1860-1) and Our Mutual Friend (1864-5) complete his major works.

Dickens's marriage to Catherine Hoggarth produced ten children but ended in separation in 1858. In that year he began a series of exhausting public readings; his health gradually declined. After putting in a full day's work at his home at Gads Hill, Kent on June 8, 1870, Dickens suffered a stroke, and he died the following day.

Date of Birth:

February 7, 1812

Date of Death:

June 18, 1870

Place of Birth:

Portsmouth, England

Place of Death:

Gad's Hill, Kent, England

Education:

Home-schooling; attended Dame School at Chatham briefly and Wellington

Read an Excerpt

PART I
(Continues…)



Excerpted from "Our Mutual Friend"
by .
Copyright © 1994 Charles Dickens.
Excerpted by permission of Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

BOOK THE FIRST (THE CUP AND THE LIP)
I. On the Look-out
II. The Man from Somewhere
III. Another Man
IV. The R. Wilfer Family
V. Boffin's Bower
VI. Cut Adrift
VII. Mr. Wegg Looks after Himself
VIII. Mr. Boffin in Consultation
IX. Mr. and Mrs. Boffin in Consultation
X. A Marriage Contract
XI. Podsnappery
XII. The Sweat of an Honest Man's Brow
XIII. Tracking the Bird of Prey
XIV. The Bird of Prey Brought Down
XV. Two New Servants
XVI. Minders and Reminders
XVII. A Dismal Swamp
BOOK THE SECOND (BIRDS OF A FEATHER)
I. Of an Educational Character
II. Still Educational
III. A Piece of Work
IV. Cupid Prompted
V. Mercury Prompting
VI. A Riddle without an Answer
VII. In which a Friendly Move is Originated
VIII. In which an Innocent Elopement Occurs
IX. In which the Orphan Makes his Will
X. A Successor
XI. Some Affairs of the Heart
XII. More Birds of Prey
XIII. A Solo and a Duet
XIV. Strong of Purpose
XV. The Whole Case so Far
XVI. An Anniversary Occasion
BOOK THE THIRD (A LONG LANE)
I. Lodgers in Queer Street
II. A Respected Friend in a New Aspect
III. The Same Respected Friend in More Aspects than One
IV. A Happy Return of the Day
V. The Golden Dustman Falls into Bad Company
VI. The Golden Dustman Falls into Worse Company
VII. The Friendly Move Takes up a Strong Position
VIII. The End of a Long Journey
IX. Somebody Becomes the Subject of a Prediction
X. Scouts Out
XI. In the Dark
XII. Meaning Mischief
XIII. Give a Dog a Bad Name, and Hang Him
XIV. Mr. Wegg Prepares a Grindstone for Mr. Boffin's Nose
XV. The Golden Dustman at his Worst
XVI. The Feast of the Three Hobgoblins
XVII. A Social Chorus
BOOK THE FOURTH (A TURNING)
I. Setting Traps
II. The Golden Dustman Rises a Little
III. The Golden Dustman Sinks Again
IV. A Runaway Match
V. Concerning the Mendicant's Bride
VI. A Cry for Help
VII. Better to be Abel than Cain
VIII. A Few Grains of Pepper
IX. Two Places Vacated
X. The Dolls' Dressmaker Discovers a Word
XI. Effect is Given to the Dolls' Dressmaker's Discovery
XII. The Passing Shadow
XIII. Showing How the Golden Dustman Helped to Scatter Dust
XIV. Checkmate to the Friendly Move
XV. What was Caught in the Traps that were Set
XVI. Persons and Things in General
The Last. The Voice of Society
Postscript. In Lieu of Preface






What People are Saying About This

George Orwell

The fact that Dickens is always thought of as a caricaturist, although he was constantly trying to be something else, is perhaps the surest mark of his genius.

From the Publisher

‘The great poet of the city. He was created by London’
—Peter Ackroyd

Adrian Poole writes in his introduction to this new edition, ‘In its vast scope and perilous ambitions it has much in common with Bleak House and Little Dorrit, but its manner is more stealthy, on edge, enigmatic’.

Donna Tartt

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

Reading Group Guide

1. Many of Dickens’s contemporaries thought the world of eccentrics depicted in Our Mutual Friend went too far. Do you think this conceit got away from Dickens, or did he have a purpose?

2. Henry James, in his review of Our Mutual Friend in The Nation, says “In all Mr. Dickens's stories, the reader has been called upon . . . to accept a certain number of figures or creatures of pure fancy. . . . He was, moreover, always repaid for his concession by a peculiar beauty or power in these exceptional characters. But he is now expected to make the same concession with a very inadequate reward.” Does Dickens offer little reward?

3. Do you think Dickens originally meant to have Boffin have a change of heart?

4. Some scholars characterize Dickens’s work as giving a voice to the masses that, in his society, were never heard. Is this true of his Jewish characters? Consider the character of Riah and the role he plays in Our Mutual Friend. Do you think Dickens was anti-Semitic?

5. Consider Bella Wilfer and John Harmon/John Rokesmith’s relationship. Was Dickens making the novel neat when the betrothed couple truly falls in love, or was he creating a plot twist? Is this a comment about marriage?

6. Could it be said that Jenny Wren and the life she leads is the true heart of this novel?




From the Trade Paperback edition.

Foreword

1. Many of Dickens’s contemporaries thought the world of eccentrics depicted in Our Mutual Friend went too far. Do you think this conceit got away from Dickens, or did he have a purpose?

2. Henry James, in his review of Our Mutual Friend in The Nation, says “In all Mr. Dickens's stories, the reader has been called upon . . . to accept a certain number of figures or creatures of pure fancy. . . . He was, moreover, always repaid for his concession by a peculiar beauty or power in these exceptional characters. But he is now expected to make the same concession with a very inadequate reward.” Does Dickens offer little reward?

3. Do you think Dickens originally meant to have Boffin have a change of heart?

4. Some scholars characterize Dickens’s work as giving a voice to the masses that, in his society, were never heard. Is this true of his Jewish characters? Consider the character of Riah and the role he plays in Our Mutual Friend. Do you think Dickens was anti-Semitic?

5. Consider Bella Wilfer and John Harmon/John Rokesmith’s relationship. Was Dickens making the novel neat when the betrothed couple truly falls in love, or was he creating a plot twist? Is this a comment about marriage?

6. Could it be said that Jenny Wren and the life she leads is the true heart of this novel?

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