Great Expectations: 150th Anniversary Edition

Mass Market Paperback | February 3, 2009

byCharles DickensIntroduction byStanley WeintraubAfterword byAnnabel Davis-Goff

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From the agony of Charles Dickens’ disenchantment with the Victorian middle class comes a novel of spellbinding mystery and a profound examination of moral values.

An orphan living with his older sister and her kindly husband, Pip is hired by wealthy and embittered Miss Havisham as a companion for her and her beautiful adopted daughter, Estella. His years in service to the Havishams fill his heart with the desire to rise above his station in life. Pip’s wish is fulfilled when a mysterious benefactor provides him with “great expectations”—the means to be tutored as a gentleman.
 
Thrust into London’s high-society circles, Pip grows accustomed to a life of leisure, only to find himself lacking as a suitor competing for Estella’s favor. After callously discarding everything he once valued for his own selfish pursuits, Pip learns the identity of his patron—a revelation that shatters his very soul.
 
With an Introduction by Stanley Weintraub
and an Afterword by Annabel Davis-Goff

 

From the Publisher

From the agony of Charles Dickens’ disenchantment with the Victorian middle class comes a novel of spellbinding mystery and a profound examination of moral values.An orphan living with his older sister and her kindly husband, Pip is hired by wealthy and embittered Miss Havisham as a companion for her and her beautiful adopted daughter,...

As a child, Charles Dickens (1812–70) came to know not only hunger and privation, but also the horror of the infamous debtors’ prison and the evils of child labor. A surprise legacy brought release from the nightmare of prison and “slave” factories and afforded Dickens the opportunity of two years’ formal schooling. He taught himself s...

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Format:Mass Market PaperbackDimensions:528 pages, 6.94 × 4.25 × 0.88 inPublished:February 3, 2009Publisher:Penguin Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0451531183

ISBN - 13:9780451531186

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Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Depressing hilarity. Often bleak, but quite hilarious at the same time. Charles Dickens' classic Great Expectations is something that everyone has to at least try to read. There is a lot going on in this book. Duality, character development, commentary on class division, ambition, and a good deal of heart break. Welcome to England.
Date published: 2012-01-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Fantastic Read This book was really a lot of fun to read. Dickens is such an animated writer and he includes a bunch of characters here that are unforgettable. You really don't see the twist coming, and when it does, it wrenches your insides on so many levels. My sympathies found themselves moving all over the board until the very end. Dickens criticizes society in such a unique, timeless way that still resonates as strongly today as it did in 1861.
Date published: 2010-03-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from As the others Dickens' books, this one is outstanding An outstanding book that I read this year was Great Expectations. This was a wonderful classic written by the magnificent author Charles Dickens. Charles Dickens wrote a book that truly captivated the power of human love. He showed us that life can be very difficult, and you have to work very hard in order for you to succeed. In the beginning of the book, a character named Pip lived on a forge near some marshes in England. His family was generally poor. He lived with his older sister and her husband named Joe. Joe was a fairly poor blacksmith. One day, Pip was walking on the marshes. Suddenly, a strange man came up to Pip and threatened him. The strange man was a convict who was put to die on the marshes. He was handcuffed and chained. He told Pip that he would kill him if he didn't bring him a steel file and something to eat. Pip then ran back to the forge and brought the convict a steel file and some food. This vivid occurrence haunted Pip for the rest of his life. After the incident on the marshes, Pip met a lady named Miss Havesham. Miss Havesham was a very weird lady. She always wore her wedding dress in her house. She never left her house. Miss Havesham had a very beautiful adopted daughter named Estella. She was an arrogant woman. While looking at her, Pip fell in love with Estella. One day, a mysterious man came to Joe's forge. This man was sent by a secret benefactor who was residing in London. The man didn't give his name. He told Pip and Joe that someone in London was requesting him. The secret benefactor wanted Pip to come to London so that he could become a gentleman. Pip was very excited when he heard that he could work in London. Pip and Joe agreed upon the proposal. Later in that same week, Pip left Joe's forge to travel to London. There he could be a gentleman with a bright and bold future. While in London, Pip encountered many strange mysteries. Pip finally met his secret benefactor. Read the book to find out who the secret benefactor was... Overall, Great Expectations was an outstanding book. It really captivated the vast stretches of life. Great Expectations really made me feel quite sad. I felt very sorry for Pip. He had a very difficult life. He had change his personality forever once he became a gentleman. I would recommend this book to anybody who enjoys reading classics. I have read other excellent books by the wonderful author Charles Dickens. I have read Oliver Twist and The Christmas Carol. They were also excellent books.
Date published: 2009-09-06

Extra Content

Read from the Book

Chapter I.My father's family name being Pirrip, and my christian name Philip, myinfant tongue could make of both names nothing longer or more explicit thanPip. So, I called myself Pip, and came to be called Pip.I give Pirrip as my father's family name, on the authority of his tombstoneand my sister – Mrs. Joe Gargery, who married the blacksmith. As I never sawmy father or my mother, and never saw any likeness of either of them (fortheir days were long before the days of photographs), my first fanciesregarding what they were like, were unreasonably derived from theirtombstones. The shape of the letters on my father's, gave me an odd ideathat he was a square, stout, dark man, with curly black hair. From thecharacter and turn of the inscription, "Also Georgiana Wife of the Above,"I drew a childish conclusion that my mother was freckled and sickly. Tofive little stone lozenges, each about a foot and a half long, which werearranged in a neat row beside their grave, and were sacred to the memory offive little brothers of mine – who gave up trying to get a living exceedinglyearly in that universal struggle – I am indebted for a belief I religiouslyentertained that they had all been born on their backs with their hands intheir trousers-pockets, and had never taken them out in this state ofexistence.Ours was the marsh country, down by the river, within as the river wound,twenty miles of the sea. My first most vivid and broad impression of theidentity of things, seems to me to have been gained on a memorable rawafternoon towards evening. At such a time I found out for certain, thatthis bleak place overgrown with nettles was the churchyard; and that PhilipPirrip, late of this parish, and also Georgiana wife of the above, weredead and buried; and that Alexander, Bartholomew, Abraham, Tobias, andRoger, infant children of the aforesaid, were also dead and buried; andthat the dark flat wilderness beyond the churchyard, intersected with dykesand mounds and gates, with scattered cattle feeding on it, was the marshes;and that the low leaden line beyond was the river; and that the distantsavage lair from which the wind was rushing, was the sea; and that thesmall bundle of shivers growing afraid of it all and beginning to cry, wasPip."Hold your noise!" cried a terrible voice, as a man started up from amongthe graves at the side of the church porch. "Keep still, you little devil,or I'll cut your throat!"A fearful man, all in coarse grey, with a great iron on his leg. A man withno hat, and with broken shoes, and with an old rag tied round his head. Aman who had been soaked in water, and smothered in mud, and lamed bystones, and cut by flints, and stung by nettles, and torn by briars; wholimped, and shivered, and glared and growled; and whose teeth chattered inhis head as he seized me by the chin."Oh! Don't cut my throat, sir," I pleaded in terror. "Pray don't do it,sir.""Tell us your name!" said the man. "Quick!""Pip, sir.""Once more," said the man, staring at me. "Give it mouth!"

Bookclub Guide

INTRODUCTION"When, as a child, I wrote my name for the first time, I knew I was beginning a book."—Edmond Jabes, The Book of QuestionsConsidered by many critics to be Charles Dickens's most psychologically acute self-portrait, Great Expectations is without a doubt one of Dickens's most fully-realized literary creations.Work on Great Expectations commenced in late September of 1860 at what proved to be a peak of emotional intensity for its author. Two years before, Dickens had separated from Catherine, his wife of twenty-two years; and several weeks prior to the beginning of this novel, Dickens had burned all his papers and correspondence of the past twenty years at his Gad's Hill estate. This action, in retrospect, can be viewed as a sort of spiritual purge (think of Pip's burnt hands/Miss Havisham on fire)—an attempt to break decisively from the past in order (paradoxically) to fully embrace it, as he does so resonantly in this work.The writing of Great Expectations, and by extension the creation of its protagonist, Pip, therefore, can be viewed as a kind of excavation for its author, a cathartic attempt to come to terms with the painful facts of his childhood—particularly the family's chronic economic instability, culminating in his father's imprisonment due to financial insolvency. Also paramount in his psychological make-up were Dickens's consignment at the age of twelve to work as a child laborer at Warren's Blacking factory (a secret no one but his closest friend, John Forster, knew) and his subsequent separation from his family as a result—all of which took place over the course of two months. This period in the young boy's life, then, represents both a literal and meta-phorical "orphaning" and was certainly the crucible in which his personality was formed. This sense of primal loss, and fear of impending economic ruin manifested itself later in Dickens's own Herculean and obsessive efforts to busy himself (often simultaneously) as a writer, editor, and public speaker— as if this were the only way he could ensure himself of financial solvency.Where the creator (Dickens) and his creation (Pip) diverge is that the protagonist (through his suffering and disappointment), learns to accept his station in life. By the end of his saga, Pip has, for the most part, shed his illusions (his "expectations") and is able to live a simple but fulfilling life as a clerk in the company of his great friend, Herbert Pocket.Dickens, on the other hand, it seems never adequately internalized the lessons of his own life and success. In an autobiographical fragment, he wrote: "Even now, famous and caressed and happy, I often forget in my dreams that I have a dear wife and children; even that I am a man; and wander desolately back to that time of my life" (as a child laborer).Written in the last decade of his life, Great Expectations is also a meditation on the act of writing (as a book of memory) and the creative imagination, opening as it does with the young Pip (aged seven) in the churchyard, attempting to conjure up through sheer will, a physical picture of his (never-seen) parents by carefully studying the lettering on their tombstones. This memorable scene is a metaphorical attempt to raise the dead through an act of pure imagination.Serialized between December 1, 1860 and August 3, 1861, Great Expectations was an extraordinary success, selling (midway through its run), over one hundred thousand copies weekly in Dickens's magazine All the Year Round. Published in book form in July 1861, it was considered by contemporary critics to represent a return to Dickens at the peak of his powers, deftly mixing comedy and tragedy and with a rich brew of major and minor characters. By the end of that summer, the book had gone through four printings. Later critics were equally responsive. Playwright George Bernard Shaw felt that Great Expectations was Dickens's "most compactly perfect book." The poet Swinburne believed the story of the novel to be unparalleled "in the whole range of English fiction."Narrated by a middle-aged Pip, Great Expectations can be read on many levels—as a morality play of a young boy's coming of age; and his sudden and unexpected rise from the lower to that of the leisure class (due to the anonymous efforts of a mysterious benefactor). The novel can also be read as an ironic commentary: a social critique on money (as commodity) and how that commodity affects everyone around it. It can also be enjoyed as a rattling good mystery story replete with secrets; as well as with shady characters, thieves and murderers of all stripes. In the end, Great Expectations is an unforgettable tale about fate, and how a chance encounter between an orphan named Pip and an escaped convict radically and arbitrarily alters the lives of everyone around them. ABOUT THE AUTHORCharles Dickens was born in Portsmouth on February 7, 1812, the first son of John and Elizabeth Dickens. His father John was a clerk in the Navy Pay office. Owing to his father's low-level position and his inability to manage money, the Dickens family moved often throughout his childhood, living variously in Chatham, Kent and Camden Town, London. In 1824, at the age of twelve, Charles went to work at Warren's Blacking (a shoe-polish factory) in order to help provide additional funds for the penurious family. This event, along with the family's routine evictions due to non-payment of rent and his father's eventual imprisonment for debt at Marshalsea Prison, were pivotal events in the young boy's life.In 1827, following the completion of his formal education, Dickens went to work for various London legal firms and became a court reporter. Shortly after his eighteenth birthday, Dickens met Maria Beadnell with whom he was involved for several years. Due, perhaps in part, to the Dickens family reputation, this relationship did not prosper, although it no doubt left its imprint on the young Charles who subsequently based the character of Estella in Great Expectations on Maria. Estella was also conjured from the character of the actress Ellen Ternan with whom Dickens was deeply involved during and following the dissolution of his marriage.In December 1833, when Dickens was twenty-one, his first published pieces were printed anonymously in the Monthly Magazine. In the following years his sketch fiction appeared under the by-line of "Boz" and Dickens commenced his career as a newspaper reporter. By the mid 1830's, his book Sketches by Boz, appeared and in 1836, Dickens married Catherine Hogarth, daughter of a prominent theater and music critic. That same year, his first novel The Pickwick Papers began serialization, increasing sales of the magazine in which it appeared from fourteen thousand to forty thousand during its run.In 1837, Dickens was hired to edit Bentley's Miscellany where his novel Oliver Twist was serialized over a period of two years. This work as an editor and fiction writer continued throughout the rest of his life. In many cases, the serialization of his fiction in the journals he edited was a marketing ploy to ensure successful sales of the magazine.In the coming years, Dickens achieved tangible success publishing Nicholas Nickleby (later dramatized on the London stage), The Old Curiosity Shop and Barnaby Rudge; and was widely sought after as a dinner guest, dining with the cream of London society: literary luminaries, various Lords, lawyers and judges.In 1843, at the age of thirty-one, Dickens published his immortal holiday tale, A Christmas Carol, completing the text in a space of two months. The story proved to be an enormous success with the general public, was dramatized and represented the first of many Christmas stories he would write over the years. In the seven years of their marriage, Dickens and his wife raised three children and, despite his oppressive schedule, managed to travel to Italy, Switzerland and France.At the close of the 1840's Dickens began serialization of his novel, David Copperfield, followed in the early 1850's by arguably one of his finest creations, Bleak House. In 1853, Dickens gave his first public reading in Birmingham, England of A Christmas Carol and The Cricket on the Hearth. A year later in Bradford, Dickens performed for an audience of 3,700 people.The latter part of the 1850's found Dickens increasing his pace with a series of public readings (over 472 between 1858 and his death in 1870). Between August and November 1858, the author gave 83 readings which proved to be a great popular and financial success. By the late 1860's Dickens's readings became so eagerly anticipated that sometimes thousands were turned away.In the spring of 1859, he initiated a new magazine All the Year Round which began serialization of A Tale of Two Cities in weekly installments. In the fall of 1860, Dickens, now separated from his wife but with custody of all but one of his children, began work on Great Expectations. In the fall of 1867, Dickens visited the United States where he gave 75 readings between the months of November 1867 and April 1868. During this period, he visited with Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Ralph Waldo Emerson and, on his 56th birthday, had an audience at the White House with President Andrew Johnson.The following fall he began, what would prove to be, his farewell reading tour of England. On June 9, 1870, Dickens died of a cerebral hemorrhage, leaving an estate of 93,000 pounds. At his death, the writer Anthony Trollope claimed Dickens's novels had enormous impact at all levels of society ranging "from the highest to the lowest, among all classes that read." And furthermore his popularity was such that, at the time of his death, it was estimated that his magazine All the Year Round was, according to critic Janice Carlisle, "selling three hundred thousand copies a week and reaching, by one estimate, half the population of London." DISCUSSION QUESTIONSIn this novel, Great Expectations, things are often not what they seem. Discuss how the theme of "expectations" is illustrated by and through the various major characters in this book. How are Pip's expectations different and similar from those of his surrogate father, Joe (the blacksmith), Miss Havisham (the eccentric recluse), Estella (the daughter of a convict and murderess) and Pip's benefactor, (the convict) Magwitch? Why do you think it is one of Magwitch's principal conditions that Pip (his nickname) "always bear the name of Pip" in order to receive his financial support? If Pip had not received his "Great Expectations" and never left Joe's forge, how do you think his life would have been different? Are the lessons he learns during his physical and emotional journey necessary for him to arrive at the wisdom he evinces as the middle-aged narrator of this tale? In what ways?Why do you think Miss Havisham manipulates and misleads Pip into thinking she is his secret benefactor? What, if anything, does she derive from this action? Given Dickens's portrayal of Estella, what do you think attracts Pip to her in the first place and what, when he learns of her cold-blooded manipulation of men such as her husband, keeps Pip devoted to her until the end, loving her, as he says, "against reason, against promise, against peace?" In the final chapter Estella says to Pip: "Suffering has been stronger than all other teaching."Discuss the theme of suffering in this book—specifically how it instructs Pip, Miss Havisham and Estella. In Chapter 49 Miss Havisham confesses to Pip that in adopting Estella, she "meant to save her (Estella) from misery like my own." Do you believe this, given Dickens's harsh characterization of Miss Havisham throughout the novel? And in the same Chapter (49) when Miss Havisham is set afire, do you believe that, given her state of mind, Dickens intends us to read this as an accident or a kind of penance/attempted suicide on her part for her cruelty to Pip and Estella? What do you think makes Pip change his opinion of his benefactor Magwitch from one of initial repugnance to one of deep and abiding respect and love? In Chapter 59, when Pip places Joe and Biddy's son (also named Pip) on the same tombstone that opens the novel, what do you think Dickens intends to tell us with this image? Given the novel's theme of how the sins of others are visited upon us, do you view this image as a foreboding one in any way? 

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