Saturday, April 7, 2018

Book Review- The Pickwick Papers

For the Classics Club I read Charles Dickens' first novel The Pickwick Papers.
Synopsis from Goodreads: Few first novels have created as much popular excitement as The Pickwick Papers–-a comic masterpiece that catapulted its 24-year-old author to immediate fame. Readers were captivated by the adventures of the poet Snodgrass, the lover Tupman, the sportsman Winkle &, above all, by that quintessentially English Quixote, Mr Pickwick, & his cockney Sancho Panza, Sam Weller. From the hallowed turf of Dingley Dell Cricket Club to the unholy fracas of the Eatanswill election, via the Fleet debtor’s prison, characters & incidents sprang to life from Dickens’s pen, to form an enduringly popular work of ebullient humour & literary invention.
A couple years ago there was a challenge I tried to participate in that consisted of reading The Pickwick Papers as they were originally published in serial form. I did not get very far before I gave up... something I very rarely have ever done. Maybe it was the pace of reading it or it just wasn't time. However, recently I decided to pick it up again and thankfully I was not only able to finish it but I enjoyed it. It's a quirky book and definitely not for everyone. It starts out slow and it needs warming up to. Like most of Dickens' novels, the characters drive the story and they are each an oddity. It took me a while to warm up to them because they're so ridiculous but you come to love them all. The style of the story is different as well as it kind of meanders with the characters moving about and having "adventures" as the travel about. It's just a laid back story.
What I enjoyed most about The Pickwick Papers though was the humor hidden in the writing... that delightful British humor. Some of it quite reminded me of P.G. Wodehouse, who's of course one of my favorite comedic authors. I had to read some of the quotes aloud to my husband as they were just so funny! I've read a lot of Dickens' novels (almost all of them now!) and I feel like it might be the funniest of them all but since it's such a rambling read it takes more commitment then probably most are willing to put in to a book. It's just not a normal Dickens novel. Granted it was his first though and you can tell that in how it was written. The writing, while more humorous in my opinion, wasn't as good. He finessed his work with time.
All that to say, I enjoyed it a lot, it's slow to get in to, but it's worth it, but definitely not for everybody.
Here's a few of my favorite quotes from it, though I know there were many other good ones hidden in the pages that I've missed.
“The gout is a complaint as arises from too much ease and comfort. If ever you're attacked with the gout, sir, jist you marry a widder as has got a good loud woice, with a decent notion of usin' it, and you'll never have the gout agin.... I can warrant it to drive away any illness as is caused by too much jollity.”

“She dotes on poetry, sir. She adores it; I may say that her whole soul and mind are wound up, and entwined with it. She has produced some delightful pieces, herself, sir. You may have met with her 'Ode to an Expiring Frog,' sir.”

“Can I view thee panting, lying
On thy stomach, without sighing;
Can I unmoved see thee dying
On a log
Expiring frog!”

“Hush. Don't ask any questions. It's always best on these occasions to do what the mob do."
"But suppose there are two mobs?" suggested Mr. Snodgrass.
"Shout with the largest," replied Mr. Pickwick.
Volumes could not have said more.”

“There are very few moments in a man's existence when he experiences so much ludicrous distress, or meets with so little charitable commiseration, as when he is in pursuit of his own hat.”

“Mr. Pickwick gazed through his spectacles for an instant on the advancing mass, and then fairly turned his back and -- we will not say fled; firstly because it is an ignoble term, and, secondly, because Mr. Pickwick's figure was by no means adapted for that mode of retreat...”

“Mr Pickwick awoke the next morning, there was not a symptom of rheumatism about him; which proves, as Mr Bob Sawyer very justly observed, that there is nothing like hot punch in such cases; and that if ever hot punch did fail to act as a preventive, it was merely because the patient fell in to the vulgar error of not taking enough of it.”

“Company, you see - company is - is - it's a very different thing from solitude - an't it?”
Follow my blog with Bloglovin


  1. I too tried this once and put it down, but I picked it up in recent years. I was amazed to find that Dickens was so young; you can already tell how great a writer he was. His not-best is most peoples not-ever. I did find some parts funny, but it is not my favorite.

  2. It's weird I never think of Dickens being young. I've never read any of his (except a Christmas Carol) but just started Oliver Twist and been really surprised how funny and sarcastic it is! If that's not a a one off, will definitely read more.

  3. I love this novel but I agree it's very unlike most of his other stuff. I think my favourite bit is Mr Jingle telling the story of the woman on the top of the omnibus going under a bridge... :)

  4. Thank you for sharing these hilarious quotes! I may have to get around to Pickwick after all.


I allow anyone to comment but be aware that I reserve the right to delete your comment if I find it inappropriate. Please do not make me have to exercise that right. :)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...