Classic Novels Everyone Should Read

Charles Dickens :

British novelist Charles Dickens was born on February 7, 1812, in Portsmouth, England. Over the course of his writing career, he wrote the beloved classic novels Oliver Twist, A Christmas Carol, Nicholas Nickleby,David Copperfield, A Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations. On June 9, 1870, Dickens died of a stroke in Kent, England, leaving his final novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, unfinished.

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David Copperfield :

This is the eighth novel by Charles Dickens. It was first published as a serial in 1849–50, and as a book in 1850. Many elements of the novel follow events in Dickens’ own life, and it is probably the most autobiographical of his novels. In the preface to the 1867 edition, Dickens wrote, “like many fond parents, I have in my heart of hearts a favourite child. And his name is David Copperfield. The novel traces the life of David Copperfield from the time of his birth to his  mature manhood, when he is married and familiar with the vicissitudes of life. His early years are enjoyable with his mother — who was widowed shortly before his birth — and with her servant, Peggotty. Life is happy for David until his mother decides to marry Mr. Murdstone; afterward, life becomes unbearable for David. He is soon sent to a miserable school where he becomes friendly with James Steerforth, a fellow student.

David Copperfield

Great Expectations  :

Great Expectations is Charles Dickens’s thirteenth novel and his penultimate completed novel. Great Expectations tells the story of Pip, an English orphan who rises to wealth, deserts his true friends, and becomes humbled by his own arrogance. Great Expectations is his best book. The story, while set in the early part of the 1800s, was written in 1860 during the Victorian era that began with the coronation of Queen Victoria in 1837 and lasted until her death in 1901. Virtues emphasized at that time included integrity, respectability, a sense of public duty, and maintaining a close-knit family. It also introduces one of the more colorful characters in literature: Miss Havisham. Charles Dickens set Great Expectations during the time that England was becoming a wealthy world power. Machines were making factories more productive, yet people lived in awful conditions, and such themes carry into the story.

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Little Dorrit :

Little Dorrit is a novel by Charles Dickens, originally published as a serial between 1855 and 1857. It satirizes the shortcomings of both government and society, including the institution of debtors’ prisons, where debtors were imprisoned, unable to work, until they repaid their debts. Dickens’s masterpiece about prison life is set in an English debtors’ prison where his own father had been imprisoned. Amy Dorrit, the heroine, has spent her entire life caring for her imprisoned father. The novel portrays both the physical and psychological horrors of imprisonment and the hypocrisy  of a society that allows them to continue. Little Dorrit, like many of Charles Dickens’ work, involves a large number of characters–from the mightiest to the lowliest–whose paths cross. It would seem that Dickens had a concept that each person can impact the lives of numerous others in profound ways, and that this could have a  great impact on society. Of all  his books, I would say that Little Dorrit displays this concept the most. It is also a look  into human nature, and many of the problems that are addressed in the book can find examples of even today. What is truly fascinating though, is to see how all these characters- some rich and powerful, some the lowliest dreads  of society are entwined.

Little Dorrit

The Mystery of Edwin Drood  :

The Mystery of Edwin  Drood is the fifteenth novel by Charles Dickens. The story is a murder mystery in which Edwin Drood is supposedly murdered and suspicion is cast on his uncle. Dickens guarded the mystery very closely while writing the story. Much conjecture about the actual outcome of the novel has taken place and The Mystery of Edwin Drood remains a mystery to this day. The story is set in the Cathedral town of Cloisterham. Edwin Drood and Rosa Bud, both orphaned, had been promised to each other in marriage by their parents. Their attachment, made in early childhood, has cooled as they are reaching adulthood.

The mystry of edwin drood

Bleak House :

Bleak House, published in monthly parts Mar 1852 – Sep 1853, Dickens’ ninth novel. This is considered to be one of Dickens’ finest novels, containing vast, complex and engaging arrays of characters and sub-plots. Bleak House has a strong and obvious theme whose point may, in fact, be more debatable  than Dickens realized; yet the book is not a thesis novel, or at least not a clear example of one. Foremost, Bleak House is a romance — affairs  of the heart for Esther, Ada, and Caddy figure very prominently — and it is a murder mystery, as well. This novel, like many other works of Dickens, balances  themes of social criticism with motifs dealing with the truths of personal experience. Esther Summerson, one of the principal characters, is relatively little affected by the deplorable workings of the Chancery Court. In the main, her story  centers around her initiation into life — her discovery of her own identity, and the development of her emotional relationships with Lady Dedlock, John Jarndyce, Allan Wood-court, and others.

Bleak House

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