The Old Curiosity Shop

Paperback | July 1, 2001

byCharles DickensEditorNorman Page

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The story of Little Nell and her "tragedy of sorrows," told in a blend of realism and fairy-tale

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.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

From the Publisher

The story of Little Nell and her "tragedy of sorrows," told in a blend of realism and fairy-taleThe 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 gran...

From the Jacket

The story of 'Little Nell' gripped the nation when it first appeared. Described as a 'tragedy of sorrows', it tells of Nell uprooted from a secure and innocent childhood and cast into a world where evil takes many shapes, the most fascinating of which is the stunted, lecherous Quilp. He is Nell's tormenter and destroyer, and it is his ...

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 fort...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:608 pages, 7.8 × 5.2 × 1.1 inPublished:July 1, 2001Publisher:Penguin Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0140437428

ISBN - 13:9780140437423

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Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from Most Dickensian Novel That Still Captures Our Imagination Of all what Dickens wrote, there never was one like "Old Curiosity Shop." Most Dickensian in the sense that it exudes everything he created in his career. Outrageous characters including an angelic heroine and impossibly theatrical villain, (too) kind-hearted gentlemen and hilarious comic relief. The story follows the fate of Little Nell, who together with his grandfather embarks on a wandering trek through England to find her place where they can live quietly. Around her and her old friend Kit appear the colorful characters such as incredibly cheerful, optimistic Dick Swiveller, or grotesque, villainous Quilp (who somehow attracted a pretty lady's attention for he got married!) On top of them, you encounter a lot of vividly described characters only Dickens can create. As the novel started as a short vignette in a magazine, and then Dickens extended it, following his imagination, to boost the readers' subscription (because the magazine's circulation dropped badly after the initial issue), the plot is very thin, and the whole work is incoherent. The first-person narrator who opens the story disappears soon; Nell's brother Fred is gone almost silently ("Did Little Nell have a brother?" those who had read it may say. So unmemorable.); even Kit, who adores Nell deep in his heart at first, seems to forget her existence before Barbara, his love, after Nell ran away from her house. But all these flaws must be forgotten. Dickens wrote it without a prepared plan; he just used his creative power, and his double plot device, which is awkward, is an inevitable result. It is like some TV sitcoms or dramas (like "Ally McBeal" or "X-Files") that keep on running for years -- you never know where it is going. So read it slowly, turn your blind eye to the holes in the plot, and enjoy the characters. One of the most favorite episodes was once the last scene of Little Nell, for whom every Victorian actually shed tears, but you might now feel differently about a series of sentimental sentences. Well, remember it was how they felt at that time. And don't miss one very good thing about the book; it is the budding love between the most unlikely couple in the history of English literature, that of Dick Swiveller and the Marchioness, an abused little girl. That comsenpates for the shortcomings of "Old Curiosity Book," most gargantuan novel coming from Dickens's imaginative power. There are many editions of the book, and as far as I know, EVERYMAN "PAPERBACK" EDITION provides complete, clear-cut original illustartion. Watching them is another joy you can have.
Date published: 2009-09-06