It kept getting sidetracked from the Nell story I wanted to read and focusing on other, repulsive characters. If it wasn't a classic, I'd probably give it two stars. I am quite worried by this insipid-looking woman on the cover So far my favourite character is Whiskers the pony. I'm not sure if that bodes well. I confess: I abandoned Little Nell.
I did however finish the book, after lugging it about since March. I'm afraid my initial reservations were confirmed: Nell was insipid, and Whiskers the pony was ace.
Especially as it is reported that his final act was to kick his doctor in his last illness. The doctor is nev I am quite worried by this insipid-looking woman on the cover The doctor is never introduced, but there are many other characters in this book that could do with a good kicking. Daniel Quilp stands short in stature, but has a large spirit. A dwarf, he has endured the prejudice and the malign intentions of people who judge him solely on his appearance.
For example, one character Kit says of Quilp that he is uglier than anyone you might pay to see in a circus freak show.
Despite the relentless hostility towards him, Quilp, through his intelligence, his energy, and his large spirit, has managed to rise in the ranks of the business world. But even his success does nothing Daniel Quilp stands short in stature, but has a large spirit. But even his success does nothing to temper other people's scorn of him. At one point, when he is though dead, the people who should be closest of him celebrate his death, and make fun of his memory, all while drinking his own liquor. The owner of the Curiosity Shop has borrowed money from Quilp under false pretenses.
Instead of using the funds to develop his business, the owner blows it all to feed his secret gambling addiction. Quilp lends him money more than once before he discovers what the owner is doing with it. The shop is worthless, so even after legal foreclosure proceedings, Quilp only recovers pennies on the pounds that he has lent.
It seems likely, however, that the owner has hidden a large treasure from Quilp and is trying to escape from his obligations. The owner has a granddaughter, Nell Trent. She helps the owner escape from his responsibilities. She is a devious girl. She hides her motives from Quilp, assists her grandfather in fleeing his just obligations, then helps the two of them conceal their identities in order to avoid Quilp. In time, this girl stoops to lying even to her grandfather.
And eventually, her dark spirit descends into an unhealthy obsession with morbidity. Quilp, in the meantime, tries in vain to find these two who have gone to such lengths to avoid paying him his due. The strange thing is that Dickens insists that Nell is a perfect angel and that Quilp is a monster. But in terms of what they do, almost all of the bad can be put at the feet of Nell and her grandfather. And I had a hard time finding any single act of Quilps that was wrong.
He's a monster because he's a misshapen dwarf, and that's that. For a while, I was hoping that this was some grand play of irony, and that Dickens would eventually wink at us and let us in on the joke. But it never happens.
Despite what's going on in the story, Quilp is always said to be a monster, and Nell is always a perfect picture of Victorian passive virtue. And the affect ranges from the oppressively dull to the nauseating. There is little to no narrative drive here. What does pass for story amounts to little more than gross coincidence.
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There are all sorts of details that do not bear the slightest scrutiny. For example, an unnamed stranger takes up residence with the villainous attorneys. He then goes to great lengths to interview every Punch and Judy show that comes into town.
He's looking for Nell and her grandfather. When I found out who he is, and reflected back on these actions, I could think of absolutely no reason why he might suspect that the owners of a Punch and Judy show would know anything of Nell's whereabouts. And the characters are not even one dimensional.
I find it interesting that Nell and her grandfather, on their picaresque adventures, encounter first a Punch and Judy circus, then a traveling wax works, and finally a graveyard by a church. It's almost like they are trying to find a community where their characters belong. Punch and Judy have way too much depth of character and motivation, so they are not a good home. The wax works people are a little closer to the mark, but wax figures have a certain amount of energy and spirit that Nell and her grandfather are lacking. Only in the graveyard do Nell and her grandfather find a group with whom they are truly akin.
The remaining characters are even less deep and vivid than this pair. So, with no plot and horrible characterization, who is the hero behind this book? He is truly a great writer. So great, that its a shame that he here has refused to write a good book. Instead, he has written a colossally great failure. Everything is overdone, except for any element that might make a book good.
This probably isn't the worst book I've ever read. But I do find myself wondering what circle of hell would have sinners forced to read this. Maybe, somewhere a bit deeper than the circle where a trio plays sonatas for banjo, accordion and bagpipes. But perhaps not quite as deep as the Jaws 2 viewing room.
The Old Curiosity Shop seems the perfect title for this novel, even thought the titular shop hardly features beyond the first few chapters.
Legends and Stories of Ireland. She is a formidable woman who doesn't take guff from anyone and runs her brother's law office. Customer Service. It took me around two weeks to finally finish the novel since I wanted to read every line carefully. Kit was weak and missing his big honest heart. Usually two wood engravings accompanied each weekly number, but some numbers contained additional vignettes, elaborate initial letters, tail-pieces, and even regular illustrations. Brass is described as "one of Her Majesty's attornies" [ sic ], putting him in the reign of Queen Victoria , which began in , but given all the other evidence, and the fact that Kit, at his trial, is charged with acting "against the peace of our Sovereign Lord the King" referring to George IV , this must be a slip of the pen.
It's a perfect curio, a ramshackle assortment of strange Dickensian characters and one never knows what one will find from one chapter to the next. There's no overarching plot or purpose, and the novel revolves around a bunch of characters, namely Daniel Quilp, Richard Swiveller, Little Nell and Kit Nubbles - for starters - all vaguely loosely connected, but The Old Curiosity Shop seems the perfect title for this novel, even thought the titular shop hardly features beyond the first few chapters.
There's no overarching plot or purpose, and the novel revolves around a bunch of characters, namely Daniel Quilp, Richard Swiveller, Little Nell and Kit Nubbles - for starters - all vaguely loosely connected, but pretty much doing their own thing. Little Nell loves everybody, has no money and goes on a road trip to nowhere.
Daniel Quilp hates everybody, makes money and ruins other people's lives. Richard Swiveller is a layabout who discovers he has a heart of gold and Kit Nubbles finds his fortune in the world. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense and there are moments in the novel aplenty where Dickens introduces a plot strand that he evidently felt he might expand upon, and then changes his mind and takes the book somewhere else.
With most other authors this kind of abysmal plotting would be a huge detriment to the book; yet Dickens was pretty much creating serial fiction at this point and laying down the rules, working out for himself what works and what doesn't, so whilst he perfects narrative coherence in later efforts, here the lack of consistency merely adds something to the charm. In terms of "towering masterpieces" then, for Dickens this is not it.
This is a classic example of Dickens early fiction and I happen to love it for the enthusiasm, vibrancy, charm and comedy that Dickens brings to the table.
Nobody ever loved telling stories more and his love of the thing oozes through every page there are even narrative devices whereby Dickens talks to his audience saying "I bet you're glad we're back with this story because I love this character". He loves incidents and situations. It's easy enough, also, to pull out some of Dickens classic concerns from this novel - that those with a good heart shall win out incidentally Quilp's demise was a moment of pure sublimity - his heart was certainly not good and that those not blessed with good finances are still worthy people.
That the rich should look after the poor, that the legal system is a system set up and designed to protect the rich and offers no recourse to the poor his plot resolutions somehow undercut this a little bit early on. It's all here in The Old Curiosity Shop and it's all completely charming.
One must indeed have a heart of stone not to care for Little Nell who doesn't seem overtly sappy to me since Dickens is careful not to overdose the reader on her adventures, but use her as a "good" paor of eyes to observe the strange and often bittersweet goings on around her and she's the catalyst for some fine prose musings throughout Kit Nubbles feels like a prototype Pip as the young poor lad whom chance and a good heart makes good although he's beset upon by darker forces, they don't come from within.
Swiveller is a little Skimpole-ish and one of my favourite Dickens creations, bumbling about as he does in a haphazard manner, alongside Quilp whose pure evil and malevolence oozes off of the page, whether he's trying to intimidate a young 14 yr old Nell into agreeing to be his wife very creepy! This is one of Dicken's weaker novels but it's still firmly a 5 star effort I've since decided that I was wrong to downgrade any Dickens to lower than 5 stars, I was simply trying to be politic since Dickens writing is simply that vivid, that entertaining, that compulsive and that damn good.
I was sorry when I turned the last page since I'd really started to fall in love with the characters yes, including poor Nell. He has many sub-plots going all at once, and he abandons some of them for so long in order to focus on just one. Often the one he favors is the one I'm least interested in, " Often the one he favors is the one I'm least interested in, so I have to slog through just to get back to the characters I like better.
Part of the problem is the serialized nature of the original stories, and part of it is just me and my impatience as a 21st-century reader. I won't belabor the plot. It's been done to death. There's much to love about this book, most important of which is Dickens's tongue-in-cheek descriptions of what would otherwise be dry details. I found more sneaky humor in this novel than in any other Dickens I've read so far. I especially enjoyed his many ironic references to the mannish Sally Brass, e.
I'm semi-grudgingly rounding up to four stars because there's no denying the genius of the writing, and especially because I appreciated the comic relief in an otherwise sad tale. Jan 01, Mikey B. Once more I find Dickens to be a story-teller of the first rank, full of zest and a love of life.
Almost everything is perfect, but more on this qualification later. The book is so engaging — all the physical and psychological traits of the characters are so well rendered.