Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Pickwick Papers - Charles Dickens

G.K. Chesterton called this book, "The great example of everything that made Dickens great." Very rarely, will one come across a set of characters that one grows to love in that absolute way that will not change and when that happens, that particular book becomes a friend for life. By the time I had turned the last page of Charles Dickens's Pickwick Papers, I was well and truly crying because I did not want the book to end and I wanted to be a Pickwickian and own a waistcoat, complete with big brass buttons that said PC on them.

The Pickwick Papers give us a wonderful peep into the mind of one Charles Dickens Esquire. The Pickwick Papers, Dickens's first novel would leave even a Dickens beginner gasping in anticipation of what his later works would be like. One noteworthy observation on this book: although it is a lighthearted read for the most part, there are anecdotes that depict the sufferings of the deprived that are an indication of what I consider Mr.Dickens to have been: a sort of literary champion of the masses.

The Pickwick papers is an account put together by the recorders of the adventures of the Pickwick Club. The founder of this honorable club, that rare and amiable gentleman, Mr.Pickwick might be middle-aged but his heart is still that of a twenty year old and among the other followers of his club, his three particularly close friends Mr.Tupman, Mr.Winkle and Mr.Snodgrass provide an amusing foil to our founder. Together, these four excellent Gentlemen leave the safety of their London homes to embark upon an adventure in other parts of England with the intent of making observations and recordings on human nature, history and basically anything else that might be worthy enough of being entered in their notebooks. Along the way, they get to meet wastrels and weasels like Mr.Jingles and the lawyers Dodson and Fogg, laugh and shake their heads over the extraordinary capacity for sleep and eats of The Fat Boy, watch one or the other of their group fall hopelessly in love and generally get into all manner of delightful scrapes.

In the midst of all this is Mr.Pickwick, who is later joined by his newly appointed valet, the priceless and irreplaceable Samuel Weller. Mr.Pickwick is a soul who cannot but extend a hand to anyone who needs his help and with Sam for ballast, Mr.Pickwick has some wonderful adventures and relatively few scrapes along with his friends. Mr.Pickwick (I will consider him as something more than a character in a book) is one of those people that you love instantly: a touch of the father, the kindly uncle who slips shiny coins and toffees into your hand.

The Pickwick Papers is an unforgettable journey into the world into the world of Mr.Pickwick and the genius of the mind that created him. Do read the book and come away feeling like you have actually made fast friends with this wonderfully sanguine man in black tights and gaiters who goes by the name of Mr.Pickwick. You won't regret it and even if you don't cry like I did, you will hate to turn the last page.


Shweta said...

Hey I love the Pickwickian Papers too. I read it immediately after reading Little Women and was too young to understand it and enjoy the humor but I persisted. Since then I have read it thrice and loved it each time.Lovely review

Vaishnavi said...

@Shweta - I am so glad you liked it! I can sort of understand that it would have been a little difficult to read this one as a kid but it is one of the most amazing books I have ever read :)

Stephen Jarvis said...

Dear Vaishnavi
I have been searching for Pickwick Papers-enthusiasts online, and your enthusiasm for Pickwick is amongst the strongest I have seen so far. I can almost feel your sadness that the book ended. And certainly nobody, among the enthusiasts I have discovered, has said that they would like a Pickwickian jacket, with the big brass buttons saying “PC” on them!
Anyway, if you are still a little sorrowful that Pickwick ended, perhaps I can offer a belated tissue for your tears. I can’t give you any more pages of Pickwick itself – but what I can do is tell you about my forthcoming novel Death and Mr Pickwick, which tells the epic story of how Pickwick came into existence, and its subsequent history. The novel will be published in May by the Random House Group (in the UK) and in June by Farrar, Straus & Giroux (in the USA). Further information can be found on the website Please feel free to contact me there if you want to talk about Pickwick, or anything else. I am hoping to make many new friends by writing the novel….and I hope not TOO many enemies!
One thing I should warn you about though: mine is not a humorous novel, like Pickwick, although it does (deliberately) echo Pickwick in other ways, such as in having interpolated stories. But the humour of Pickwick would be impossible to echo – there is just too much tragedy in Pickwick’s backstory for my novel to be a barrel of laughs.
But I do believe your understanding of Pickwick will be deepened by reading my novel. Take the jacket with the “PC” buttons, for instance – in my novel, there is a scene in which the origin of the jacket is revealed.
Best wishes

Stephen Jarvis