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Bleak House ❮PDF❯ ✭ Bleak House ✩ Author Charles Dickens – Thomashillier.co.uk Over twenty consecutive months Charles Dickens enthralled readers with his monthly installments of the novel Bleak House a complex and compelling portrayal of the English judicial system Serialized in Over twenty consecutive months Charles Dickens enthralled readers with his monthly installments of the novel Bleak House a complex and compelling portrayal of the English judicial system Serialized in his own magazine Household Words between and the book is deemed to be his finest work and is his ninth novel Using an innovative literary techniue known as “free indirect discourse” where the narrator himself speaks through the medium of one of his main characters Dickens uses the heroine Esther Summerson and an unidentified narrator as the vehicle for his story Esther Summerson is a young woman who is brought up under mysterious circumstances by several people including an aunt who hates her a Chancery lawyer and finally another lawyer John Jarndyce a wealthy extremely kind and compassionate man After completing her education she moves into the Jarndyce residence appropriately named Bleak House where two other wards of his also live Secrets begin to tumble out of many cupboards as one of the wards Richard Carstone begins investigating a century old case Jarndyce vs Jarndyce It concerns a complicated and huge inheritance case which has been going on for generations In fact the phrase “jarndyce and jarndyce” has entered the English language as a metaphor for interminable court proceedings Almost all the major characters in the book are connected in some way to this case There are plenty of wonderfully named extremely memorable characters in the convoluted structure of plots and subplots masterfully constructed by a writer working at his peak Many of them are based on real people Dickens knew while the accounts of the legal system are based on his real life experiences as a court clerk The portraits of scheming lawyers like Mr Tulkington and the merciless moneylender Grandfather Smallweed and an almost bewildering host of minor characters make Bleak House one of the most interesting and entertaining novels Dickens' magnum opus focuses extensively on the ills of the English judicial system but it is also a brilliant detective story Inspector Bucket a police detective is put in charge of the murder of Mr Tulkington and this leads to the unraveling of a deep and secret plot A mysterious note written by a dead man known only as “Nemo” an aristocratic lady with secrets of her own her suspicious husband her disappearance and Esther's romance with a country doctor are some of the elements that make up the sweeping panorama of Bleak House Whether you're reading it for the first time or it's an old favorite Bleak House is indeed an invaluable addition to your bookshelf.


10 thoughts on “Bleak House

  1. Emily May Emily May says:

    This is a very clever book because the main issue with it is exactly the point Dickens is making it is so long and dragged outBleak House is uite the achievement It's a 900 page monster made up a thousand different subplots with a large cast of characters It also fanned the flames that led to a huge overhaul of the legal system in England Buried beneath and entwined with the many subplots is the case of Jarndyce and Jarndyce Dickens's parody of the Chancery Court system because the case is dragged out over many yearsI like Dickens and I can appreciate what Bleak House does but I'm sorry to say I won't be joining the ranks who consider this their favourite His best work objectively? Maybe Who even knows what that means? But definitely not my favourite That would be Great Expectations a novel that just rips my heart out and stomps all over itI really do understand that this is the whole point but so many chapters and events in this book were extended needlessly padded out with waffle and meanderings that seemed to have nothing to do with the novel at large That's very clever and all given that this is a critiue of a court system that extends everything needlessly and gets nothing done but it's a bit of a chore to read It's a shorter book than Les Misérables The Count of Monte Cristo and War and Peace but it truly doesn't feel like itThe characters too were not as memorable as many of Dickens others Having read it I can now see why the Bleak House characters are not household names like Miss Havisham or Bill Sykes I found them bland in comparison I also think it was a mistake to have the simpering I'm so modest and unintelligent Esther Summerson as a narrator Dickens's only female narrator It's unfortunate because I think Dickens usually excels at first person narration but Esther's constant need to reiterate her modesty and lack of intelligence is frustratingIf I were rating this book based on how well it achieved what it set out to do it would be an easy five stars If you believe classics are not there for enjoyment but for self flagellation this is an easy five stars Dickens successfully wrote a long and slow book to show how the legal system is so long and slow Some of the subplots and character dramas were interesting; many were notBlog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube


  2. Paul Bryant Paul Bryant says:

    Okay so this is the 1853 version of The Wire But with less gay sex And no swearing And very few mentions of drugs And only one black person I think maybe not even one And of course it's in London not Balti But other than that it's the samePound for pound this is Dickens' best novel and of course that is saying a great deal I've nearly read all of them so you may take my word Have I ever written a review which was anything less than 101% reliable honest and straightforward? Well there you are thenBleak House gives some people a leetle problem insofar as you have half of it narrated by Esther Goody Three Shoes too good for just two Summerson who you ache to have a few bad things happen to because she trills she sings she sees the best in everyone tra la la tweedly dee dee This does get on some people's nerves But I downloaded a dvd called Dickens Girls Gone Wild last week and let me tell you there's a whole other side to Esther Summerson given the right surroundings I think it was Malta and the sangria was flowing she could be good company However Bleak House as a whole does no than take it upon itself to explain how society works And it's utterly gobsmacking There are a lot of words in Bleak House's 890 pages but gobsmacking is not one of them It's a word that was invented to describe Dickens novels


  3. Jessica Jessica says:

    Shivering in unheated gaslit uarters Mrs Winklebottom my plump and inuisitive landlady treats the heat as very dear and my radiator which clanks and hisses like the chained ghost of a boa constrictor when it is active had not yet commenced this stern and snowy morning I threw down the volume I had been endeavoring to study; certainly I am not clever neither am I intrepid nor duly digligent as after several pages I found the cramped and tiny print an intolerable strain on my strabismic eyes Straightening my bonnet I passed outdoors into the frigid sooty streets where shoppers bustled by in a frenzy now rushing into the 99 cent store bedecked with PVC Santa Claus banners now into Nelson's Xmas Shoppe in search of glistening ornaments Bowing my head perversely against busy crowds and fierce wind I stepped into a subway which conveyed me to a winding street down which I hurried until I reached a peculiar establishment the shingle for which had been battered by the strain of city winters by pollution and no doubt by the small mischievious hands of vandals who had modified the sign with their colorful signatures and illustrations but upon which could still be read with some effort Amperthump Hagglestern BooksellersI entered to a sound of tinkling bells affixed to the heavy door the hinges of which creaked as I propelled myself through its narrow passage Proceeding forward I heard a sullen voice sueak Check yer bag miss? and glanced up to see an urchin nearly lost amidst piles of remaindered volumes beckoning with one grubby hand while clutching a wrinkled comic in the other; I refused smiling gently and passed into the densely cluttered shop where I was intercepted by Mr Amperthump the proprietor a gentleman of about three and forty whose thick rimmed spectacles and corpulent physiue recall two of a tragic trinity of dead singers who upon seeing me took my cold hands in his ink stained ones and kissed them How can I assist my dear? he boomed so loudly that a little one eyed spaniel started from its slumber and the urchins shelving books glared up at their master with undisguised annoyanceDrawing out my small copy of Bleak House which I had obtained from the ueens Public Library supported to wonderous effect by the subsciption of tax dollars and no doubt supplemented by charitable impulses of certain gentleladies and endeavored to explain as simply as I could that I desired an edition of the same narrative writ larger and in mercifully legible print However Mr Amperthump appeared distressed and could not remain silent long flinging my book away NO he cried You are too young and pretty at this I blushed and tried to protest for I am not pretty in fact I am plain to be reading this antiuated rot Here instead is the latest experimental fiction from Rajistan D McGingerloop At this he placed in my hands a ueer volume unlike any I had seen before Throughout his controversial career McGingerloop has exploded one by one conventions of the novel in this latest work he has done away with pages And indeed when I examined the book I discovered he was uite right and that the book I held was a brick of paper and could not be opened having as he indicated no pages at all I thanked Mr Amperthump for his solicitude at which point he pressed that I try Petunia al Gonzalez Mjobebe's story of a love affair between an Iranian transexual and a Chinese android a meditation Mr Amperthump assured me on globalization and identity but also he said a suspenseful legal thriller in its own right albeit one subverting the conventions of that genre uite he added subversively Finally I was given to understand that in addition to Mr Amperthump's conviction that I should not be reading Dickens he had none in stock and finally I gave my thanks for all his kindness and passed out again into the filthy snow and gloom


  4. Henry Avila Henry Avila says:

    Is a lawsuit justice when it goes on and onand on seemingly in perpetuity ? In Bleak House located in the countryside outside of London that is the center of the story years pass too many to count the lawyers are happy the employed judges likewise ; the litigants not money is sucked dry from their bodieslike vampires whose fangs are biting hard the flesh weakens and the victims blood flows cash evaporates and soon nothing is left but the corpses the gorged lawyers are full until the next too trusting suckers walk by In the case of Jarndyce and Jarndyce the uite unimportant truth be told little known except to thoseinvolved in the Court of Chancery notorious well renowned for its slow pace ZZZ The court clerks audiences or should I say spectators and even the attorneys are amused laughter freuently heard not a surprise this British institution no longer exists Esther Summerson is a typical orphan in another Charles Dickens book raised by a cold woman and others previously of the same type that calls herself the child's godmother Miss Barbary with a mysterious background too somehow connected to the young girl but how Often telling the unloved Esther it would have been better for all if she had never lived Nevertheless this enigma which the few people in contact with Summerson maybe that name is really hers none will discuss with the teenager The unfriendly lady keeps the puzzle a puzzle from the past she won't reveal who the Miss is the old woman Barbary can keep a dark secret Sent to a girls boarding school later Esther bills are paid by an extraordinary kindly gentleman John Jarndyce yes the man unwillingly entangled in the detestable lawsuit like many others started by his uncle ironically deceased still he inherited the case Soon the courts give custody to him his two distant cousins orphans there are many in Victorian England set circa the 1830's before the railroads made travel easy Richard Carstone an amiable but lazy boy and the beautiful loyal Ada Clare they are also distant relatives Bleak House Mr Jarndyce home is not empty any to this rather gloomy place arrives another ward of the court Esther their guardian is the bright spot strangely she has somehow a relationship to the suit also The three become uick friends all around 17 Richard and Ada fall in love Esther is their best friend Sir Leicester Dedlock the arrogant Baronet get the symbolism is a party in the suit his haughty wife Honoria pretty and intimidating but there is something not uite clear there The family lawyer Mr Tulkinghorn has unseen power over the proud aristocrats he is a very capable man yet somewhat soft spoken and very uiet for his noisy professionbut what is it ? And the Inspector Mr Bucket of the London police he never seems to sleep hovering over everyone especially the notorious underworld criminals ofthe entire city solving crimesOne of Dickens best novels and I've read ten so farThe opening scene a description of London's famous bad weather is priceless nobody could have done it better


  5. B0nnie B0nnie says:

    Bleak House How can it be over? I hold this incredible book in my hand and can’t believe I have finished it The 965 page 2 inch thick tiny typed tome may seem a bit intimidating Relax you can read it in a day that is if you read one page per minute for 16 hours And you might just find yourself doing that Bleak House is Twilight Zone than Masterpiece Theatre However there is enough spirit of both to satisfy everyone And indeed it should it has it all unforgettable characters intrigue plot within plot ruined love enormous themes complications and description and what description it goes so far a lesser writer would be lost forever trying to find their way back Above all it has that brilliant constant satirical voice of Dickens That is the thing lost in TV film and radio adaptations of his work One merely gets a hint of it in the best of theseThe plot the characters the very fog that we encounter in the introduction are all connected to one main thread a lawsuit the Jarndyce and Jarndyce case It involves an inheritance with several wills and it cannot be decided which one is legitimate The case is before the Courts of Chancery and has dragged on for generations Someone stands to gain a lot of money and property but the long entanglement of the law has made it a curse While greed and madness consume certain characters sometimes literally there are also those who know how pointless and destructive it is to live under such hope Bleak House is another reminder what an important influence Dickens was on Dostoyevsky who understood his power very well Bleak House is alternatively narrated by the orphan Esther Summerson and an omniscient third person Dickens's sophisticated juggling of narrative invents a style that really can't be defined just like the novel itself Is it a thriller a romance magic realism a murder mystery? Yes and no Is it a treatise on poverty domestic violence false charity obsession? Again yes and no All is mixed into the fog along with that forty foot long Megalosaurus that Dickens summons in the opening paragraph – and emerges as one of the best novels ever written


  6. Bionic Jean Bionic Jean says:

    Which house in Charles Dickens's novel is Bleak House?It surely cannot be the house which bears its name; a large airy house which we first visit in the company of the young wards of Jarndyce Ada Clare and Richard Carstone and their companion Esther Ironically this Bleak House is anything but bleak It is a pleasant place of light and laughter Mr Jarndyce imprints his positive outlook on life never allowing the lawsuit to have any negative influence Indeed when he first took on the house from a relative Tom Jarndyce he says the place had become dilapidated the wing whistled through the cracked walls the rain fell through the broken roof the weeds choked the passage to the rotting door When I brought what remained of him home here the brains seemed to me to have been blown out of the house too; it was so shattered and ruined”Neither can it be another house which is to bear its name far later in the novel So does the title perhaps refer to Tom All Alone's originally owned by Tom Jarndyce but now a decrepit edifice inhabited by poor unfortunates who have nowhere else to go sleeping crammed on top of each other? Tom All Alone's certainly represents the worst of society's injustices Or could it be the immensely grand laybrinthine mansion Chesney Wold owned by Lord and Lady Dedlock? That is a magnificent abode complete with its ominously suggestive Ghost Walk; much admired much respected but devoid of happiness It embodies a bleakness of spirit; those living in it live a lie and mourn the past Or is it likely to be one of the smaller neglected dwellings such as that of Krook the rag and bone merchant whose house is packed to the brim with junk and paper or his neighbour the mad Miss Flite herself once a ward of Jarndyce now reduced to living with her caged birds Hope Joy Youth Peace Rest Life Dust Ashes Waste Want Ruin Despair Madness Death Cunning Folly Words Wigs Rags Sheepskin Plunder Precedent Jargon Gammon and Spinach Or the house inhabited by Mrs Jellyby; yet another neglected house near to falling down as she furthers her missionary zeal leaving her daughter Caddy to cope as best she can with the crumbling household? Her self righteous friend Mrs Pardiggle's house is also a candidate The room which was strewn with papers and nearly filled by a great writing table covered with similar litter was I must say not only very untidy but very dirty We were obliged to take notice of that with our sense of sight even while with our sense of hearing we followed the poor child who had tumbled downstairs I think into the back kitchen where somebody seemed to stifle himAnd the hovel lived in by Jenny and her brickmaker husband is surely a contender; that meagre hut visited with an ostentatious show of charity by the abominable Mrs Pardiggle with her rapacious benevolence if I may use the expression? There is no shortage of candidates for a Bleak House in this behemoth novel but it is by far from clear which house is meant Dickens has given us a surprisingly short title but it is as well disguised as the sixty two word long title for the novel we now call The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit or even simply Martin Chuzzlewit in which throughout the novel we think it is called after one character but on consideration it is likely to be about another Dickens loved his mysteries and this is his greatest completed mystery novel Even the characters are in disguise One has called himself Nemo no one and another has taken great pains to obfuscate her history; yet another has never known his own name In some cases the disguise is not by intention; one of the main characters genuinely does not know who she actually is and thinks she is someone elseBut before this review becomes as baffling as some of the nascent strands in this novel never fear with Dickens everything is tied up nicely by the end perhaps I should set the scene properlyBleak House was Charles Dickens's ninth novel written when he was between 40 and 41 years of age Whilst writing it Dickens's wife Kate gave birth to their tenth child Edward or Plorn A few months later Dickens himself went on tour throughout England with his amateur acting troupe He then became seriously ill with a recurrence of a childhood kidney complaint and was bedridden for six days but still had 17 chapters to write He went to Boulogne France to recover and celebrated finishing Bleak House by holding a banuet in Boulogne for his publishers Bradbury and Evans his close friend the writer Wilkie Collins and several others Each part of the serial was illustrated by his favourite illustrator and great friend Hablot Knight Brown or Phiz with remarkable skill His illustrations take great care to convey the dark brooding mood of the novel or the uirkiness of the characters They even cleverly manage to convey the novel's theme of disguise Esther's face for instance is rarely shown She is usually turned away from the viewer's eye This novel is often considered Dickens's finest work although it is not by any means his most popular His working title for Bleak House was actually Tom All Alone's which seems to indicate that of all the many themes in this book the paramount one in his mind was his hatred of the London slums Dickens loathed both the despicable conditions there and the governmental practices which allowed them to exist He tirelessly campaigned for their improvement But the action itself is intended to illustrate the evils caused by long drawn out suits in the Courts of Chancery Much of it was based on fact as Dickens had observed the inner workings of the courts as a reporter in his youth In Bleak House he observes bitterly The one great principle of the English law is to make business for itself There is no other principle distinctly certainly and consistently maintained through all its narrow turnings Viewed by this light it becomes a coherent scheme and not the monstrous maze the laity are apt to think it Let them but once clearly perceive that its grand principle is to make business for itself at their expense and surely they will cease to grumbleThis then is the crux of the story but it is wrapped in a magnificently complex tale of mystery and intrigue In fact there are about five major stories all interwoven in Bleak House and it would be difficult to say which the main story is Each is connected to the case of Jarndyce versus Jarndyce and the destructive ramifications of two conflicting and contesting wills echo down the generations and across all strata of society It is a breathtaking accomplishment to plot develop and tell such a complex story in such a riveting way For it has to be borne in mind that this like his preceding novels was only accessible to Dickens's readers in small chunks of three or four chapters at a time once a month stretched over a year and a half March 1852 to September 1853 Yet his readers were gripped entranced demanding; able to remember the myriads of characters from one episode to the next Perhaps this is why Dickens gave his characters such memorable tags Jo the crossing sweeper who don't know nothink subject to grinding poverty and ignorance forever being moved on; the languid My Lady Dedlock fashionably fatigued forever full of ennui and bored with life bored with myself Miss Flite who expects a judgment shortly John Jarndyce to be avoided if the wind is in the east and he is in his growlery Harold Skimpole protesting he is but a child in matters of money The Smallweeds are a grotesue family of caricatures The miserly money lender Grandfather Smallweed is a very old man confined to a chair where he is probably sitting on a large sum of money His wife is living in fear of him and permanently panicked by any mention of money She starts up and talks nonsense until Grandfather Smallweed throws his cushion at her silencing her but reducing himself to a bundle of clothes whereupon we get his catchphrase Shake me up Judy There is the lawyer Tulkinghorn; the man of secrets a great reservoir of confidences or the lesser lawyer Vholes the evil genius There are many short uips such as these carefully planted by Dickens to jog our memories should we need themPerhaps the easiest story to follow is that of Esther Summerson a nobody whose mother was her disgrace She was a poor child with a sense of being guilty for having been born feeling that her birthday was the most melancholy in the whole year She was offered an education and a home by the benefactor John Jarndyce Dickens invites us to view her story as key by alterating passages of the novel making some chapters by an omisicient narrator and some by Esther Unfortunately for a modern audience we uickly lose sympathy with Esther who seems to protest her gaucheness and ineptitude rather too much Perhaps after all it is telling that she is Dickens's only female narratorIn the narrative she makes it very clear how unworthy she is how unattractive and dull compared with her peers She also makes it abundantly clear that anyone reading her words knows that everyone in Bleak House argues with her about this always complimenting her kindness virtue wisdom hard work and her strong sense of gratitude and duty It is tempting to view this as an ironic depiction of Esther were we not now to know that a modest self effacing woman such as this was what Dickens himself admired or at least professed in public to admire The character of Esther was thought to be based on Georgina Hogarth his wife's youngest sister who had joined his household in 1845 and was taking over and of the running of the house She was apparently a self sacrificing sort of person who immersed herself in household duties and was dedicated to the welfare of othersMany other characters in Bleak House were also as was so often the case based on people Dickens knew and sometimes they were famous with his readers too For instance Harold Skimpole that dissembling conniving hypocrite lover of Art Music culture and everything that was fine and tasteful was a thinly veiled portrait of Leigh Hunt an English critic essayist poet and writer who continually sponged off his friends Shelley and Byron Dickens himself admitted this I suppose he is the most exact portrait that was ever painted in words It is an absolute reproduction of a real man Mrs Jellyby was based on Caroline Chisholm who had started out as an evangelical philanthropist in Sydney Australia and then moved to England in 1846 Over the next six years Caroline assisted 11000 people to settle in Australia Dickens admired her greatly and supported her schemes to assist the poor who wished to emigrate However he was appalled by how unkempt her own children were and by the general neglect he saw in her household hence his portrayal of Mrs JellybyAnother character Laurence Boythorn who was continually at odds with Sir Leicester Dedlock over land rights was based on Dickens's friend Walter Savage Landor He also was an English writer and poet; critically acclaimed but not very popular His headstrong nature hot headed temperament and complete contempt for authority landed him in a great deal of trouble over the years His writing was often libellous and he was repeatedly involved in legal disputes with his neighbours And yet Landor was described as the kindest and gentlest of men Perhaps the most poignant character is Jo the crossing sweeper He has No father no mother no friends yet is essential to the plot and clearly has a lot of innate intelligence Perhaps Dickens took especial care with this portrayal as according to Dickens's sixth son Alfred Jo was based on a small boy a crossing sweeper outside Dickens's own house Dickens took a great interest in the lad gave him his meals and sent him to school at night When he reached the age of seventeen Dickens fitted him out and paid his passage to the colony of New South Wales where he did very well writing back to his benefactor three years laterIf Jo is the character likeliest to tug at the heartstrings Inspector Bucket may be the one to admire most; the one who seems before his time presaging much of the detective fiction we enjoy today The character of the astute Inspector Bucket uncomfortable unless he gives Sir Leicester Dedlock Baronet his full title every time is the first ever portrayal of a detective in English fiction as he stands there with his attentive face and his hat and stick in his hands and his hands behind him a composed and uiet listener He is a stoutly built steady looking sharp eyed man in black of about the middle agethere is nothing remarkable about him at first sight but his ghostly manner of appearingDickens based him on the real life Inspector Charles Frederick Field about whom he had already written three articles in Household Words Lady Dedlock's maid Mademoiselle Hortense is one of Dickens's most powerful females; a prototype of Madame Defarge in A Tale of Two Cities full of passion outrage and talk of blood She was modelled on a real life Swiss lady's maid Maria Manning who along with her husband were convicted of the murder of Maria's lover Patrick O'Connor in a case which became known as The Bermondsey Horror All Dickens's contemporary readers would have been familiar with the caseAmusingly one character is named after a real person though she is not a human being at all but a cat Krook's cat Lady Jane is named after Lady Jane Grey who reigned as ueen of England for a mere nine days in 1533 She was forced to abdicate imprisoned and eventually beheadedAlthough the theme of greed and corruption within the law is bitingly serious and a passionately held belief by Dickens and although the mysteries pile one on top of another throughout the book Dickens provides plenty of comic characters to lighten the mood and pepper his stories As well as those mentioned there is the twittery Volumnia Dedlock a poor relation of Sir Leicester Dedlock described as a young lady of sixtyrouged and necklaced And we have the junior lawyer Mr Guppy almost too clever for his own good presented in a ridiculous light although actually having a sound and loyal moral core He is one of my personal favourites There is also Mr Turveydrop the owner of a dance academy and a model of deportment He was pinched in and swelled out and got up and strapped down as much as he could possibly bear Esther comments As he bowed to me in that tight state I almost believe I saw creases come into the whites of his eyes His hardworking dancing master son Prince named after the Prince Regent is another humorous portrayal as is Caddy Jellyby Albeit a drudge and slave for her philanthropic mother we are first intoduced to Caddy as a comical crosspatch with inky fingers The tiny tot Peepy Jellyby is a delight and Caddy's father too is almost pathetically comical finding consolation in leaning his head on walls; any wall seeming to suffice We do get a slightly different view of the other characters through Esther's eyes which makes for interesting reading Harold Skimpole for instance is I think only shown within her purview But with the comic episodes it matters not whose eyes we are viewing them through; we just enjoy their exuberance as a contrast to the simpering sentiments of Esther Dame Durden Old Woman Little Woman Mrs Shipton Mother Hubbard or any of the other appellations coined by the inhabitants of Bleak House She herself is irritatingly wont to call Ada my dear my darling my pet or my love rarely using her actual name even in reported speech My how tastes do change So which house do I personally think Bleak House refers to? It could well be Chesney Wold which by the end has itself become a kind of tomb for the ghosts no flag flying now by day no rows of lights sparkling by night; with no family to come and go no visitors to be the souls of pale cold shapes of rooms no stir of life about itBut given all the metaphors in the novel I am bound to conside the title itself as a metaphorIn most of his works Dickens imbues buildings particuarly old houses with their own personality Each become a character in its own right Bleak House in my view is a metaphor for the High Court of ChancerySo would it be too fanciful of me to suggest that the main character in this novel in the Law itself? Read it and see what you think You don't need to take 18 months as Dickens's public had to But it may be a good idea to not race through this book if you want to follow all the mysteries Perhaps you may wish to explore the contrasting themes of antiuity and tradition represented by Sir Leicester Dedlock set against the ever encroaching Industrial Age; an age of progress represented by the housekeeper's grandson the iron master's son Watt such an appropriate first name Rouncewell Or perhaps the theme of being trapped being a prisoner being caged calls to you There are a host of examples within Or the theme of unhappy families; bad child rearing is shown time and time again in all its many guises with eually devastating effects for rich and poor alike Nearly all the lives of these characters seem to be unfulfilled and have been blighted by coincidences or misunderstandings They are people trapped by their circumstances You may find that you enjoy spotting the codes or the continuing motifs of paper birds disguised faces fire and so on; not to mention getting the most out of Bleak House's masterly complexity and thrilling atmosphere You may love the richness of the language and description Or you may in the end become addicted to the mystery element and read it strictly for the story itself There are many interwoven plots in this novel and altogether there are ten deaths as it proceeds; all of them tragic in different ways and most of them key characters One is due to a hot topic in scientific debate so contentious that Dickens felt the need to defend it in his preface In February 1853 just over halfway through this novel he became involved in a public controversy about the issue of view spoilerspontaneouse combustion hide spoiler


  7. Lisa Lisa says:

    Nomen Est Omen in the world according to Dickens But don’t take it literally especially not when reading the title of Bleak House For Dickens also reuires you to read between the lines and letters just like in an acrostic poem BLEAK HOUSELovely charactersElegant proseAgonising cliffhangersKnowledgeable descriptionsHumorous plotOutrageous social conditionsUnusual dual narrativeSuits in ChanceryEverlasting favouriteYes Christmas is approaching it’s Dickens time I spent it in Chancery this year And what can I say? Bravo Dickens? No I stole that Thackeray phrase for David Copperfield last year already Bravissimo you fulfilled every single one of my great expectations as did Great Expectations? Yes I will just say a simple “Thank you Sir” I have spent delightful hours in the company of good and bad funny and passionate silly and intelligent characters brought to life in inimitable prose Where else can I laugh and cry and bite my nails at the same time while bowing to the elegance of the sentences that follow each other like pearls on one of Lady Dedlock’s expensive necklaces? Where else can I hate and feel compassion and wonder at the immense difference between my contemporary world and the London society of Dickens’ times and yet recognise it anyway for being almost identical? For could not Dickens’ short comment on the state of British politics have been heading a newspaper article in 2016 just as well“England has been in a dreadful state for some weeks Lord Coodle would go out Sir Thomas Doodle wouldn’t come in and there being nobody in Great Britain to speak of except Coodle and Doodle there has been no Government”Following my reading itinerary from start to finish I realise how much I grew to love the many characters all different but eually at home in the Bleak House chocolate box some nutty some sweet some rather plain others exotic In the end they all lived up to my expectations from the very first encounter with the complicated lawsuit of Jarndyce and Jarndyce which gives the novel its uniue flavourIn which I would say every difficulty every contingency every masterly fiction every form of procedure known in that court is represented over and over again?And what a range of characters I met circling around the two stable elements of Mr John Jarndyce and Miss Esther Summerson a young woman who shares the narration of the story with an omniscient voice so that the narrative is swapping back and forth between her personal experience and impersonal overarching descriptionSome characters like Skimpole get away with sponging ruthlessly on others because of their presumed innocenceAll he asked of society was to let him live That wasn't much His wants were few Give him the papers conversation music mutton coffee landscape fruit in the season a few sheets of Bristol board and a little claret and he asked no It is not as innocent as that of course as the story will tellMany characters have reason to be frustrated and Bleak House inspired me to rename my workroom as well in honour of John Jarndyce’s favourite placeThis you must know is the Growlery When I am out of humour I come and growl here The Growlery is the best used room in the houseThere is no one like Dickens to introduce the reader to a love story in the making simply by changing the tone used to add a small piece of information at the end of a long chapter on something completely unrelatedI have forgotten to mention at least I have not mentioned that Mr Woodcourt was the same dark young surgeon whom we had met at Mr Badger's Or that Mr Jarndyce invited him to dinner that day Or that he cameAnother favourite feature in Dickens’ novels is the punny sense of humour that appears over and over again and shows off both his talent for and his pleasure at playing with words for their own sake as well as his mastery when it comes to giving all his characters their own stage time beautifully shown in the following short lesson in mental geometry and verbal comedyBut I trusted to things coming roundThat very popular trust in flat things coming round Not in their being beaten round or worked round but in their 'coming' round As though a lunatic should trust in the world's 'coming' triangularI had confident expectations that things would come round and be all suare says Mr JoblingSociologists must love Dickens too There is than just a little irony in the sermon that Mrs Snagsby takes to be literal truth directly applicable to her faulty perception of reality What a comedy show A victim of her own imagination and jealousy Mrs Snagsby interprets preacher Chadband's words as a revelation of her husband’s infidelity which leads to her total collapse during a sermon completely inexplicable to the rest of the assembled communityFinallybecoming cataleptic she has to be carried up the staircase like a grand pianoMeanwhile Mr Snagsby trampled and crushed in the pianoforte removal hides in the drawing room What a marriageThe linguistic pleasure of reading Dickens should not be underestimated either His vocabulary is diverse rich and sophisticated but he does not shy away from repeating the same word over and over again if he thinks it has a comical effect and suits the story line He was clearly on a mission to ridicule the habit of having missions when he introduced a whole society of different do gooders who were absorbed in their own commitments and oblivious of the existence of anything outside their narrow field of visionOne other singularity was that nobody with a mission except Mr uale whose mission I think I have formerly said was to be in ecstasies with everybody's mission cared at all for anybody's missionAs always Dickens has a special place in his heart for his minor characters and fills them with so much intensity that they could easily lead the whole plot A favourite example is the Bagnet marriage Mr Bagnet knowing that his wife is a better judge of situations than he is himself and worth than her weight in gold has a habit of letting her express his ideas whenever he is consulted about anything for it is important to him that the appearance of marital authority is maintainedOld girl murmurs Mr Bagnet give him another bit of my mindAnd then there is sweet crazy Ms Flite who sums up the tragedy of her family in a few lines of incredible suggestive power showing the effect of long law suits on the dynamics of generations of people living in suspense and frustrationFirst our father was drawn slowly Home was drawn with him In a few years he was a fierce sour angry bankrupt without a kind word or kind look for anyone He was drawn to debtor's prison There he died Then our brother was drawn swiftly to drunkenness And rags And death Then my sister was drawn Hush Never ask to whatMs Flite herself is also completely guided by Jarndyce and Jarndyce in every aspect of her life She follows the suit in Chancery almost like a contemporary woman would watch the interminable episodes of EastEnders always expecting a judgment despite knowing that the ultimate purpose of the show is to keep the actors and producers busy and the spectators in excitement She cries when the show finally wraps up and she sets free her birds named after the passions that constituted the essence of Jarndyce and JarndyceThat’s it for now? No wait there is Dickens is also a master of special effects almost cinematic in natureEverybody starts For a gun is fired nearbyGood gracious what's that? cries Volumnia with her little withered screamA rat says My Lady And they have shot himEnter Mr Tulkinghorn And this shot turns out to be one of foreboding for nothing happens without purpose and connection in Dickens’ world and the story turns into a murder mystery The man whose specialty was using secrets to control others finds his end with a bullet in his cold heart What a good thing that Hercule Poirot has a worthy predecessor in Mr Bucket who has the immeasurable advantage of being married to Miss MarpleThat’s it now finally? No I can’t leave Dickens to tie up loose ends and make his surviving characters lead the lives they deserve without mentioning the little boy who broke my heartJo is brought in He is not one of Mrs Pardiggle's Tockahoopo Indians; he is not one of Mrs Jellyby's lambs being wholly unconnected with Boorioboola Gha; ; he is the ordinary home made article Dirty ugly disagreeable to all the senses only in soul a heathenThe description of how that illiterate starving child’s heart stopped beating is one of the most touching moments in the whole story along with the haughty elegant Sir Leicester’s love and anxiety over his disappeared wife In Dickens’ world pity is to be found in very different placesThat all? Nope But I will be uiet now anyway Just stealing a phrase from Oliver Twist and applying it to Dickens’ novels rather than food“Please Sir I want some ”


  8. Kalliope Kalliope says:

    Reading Bleak House has had a redeeming effect for me Before this marvel took place Dickens evoked for me either depressing black and white films in a small and boxy TV watched during oppressive times or reading what seemed endless pages in a still largely incomprehensible language Dickens meant then a pain on both countsIn this GR group read I have enjoyed Bleak House tremendouslyIn the group discussion many issues have been brought up by the members First and foremost the critiue on the social aspects has been put on the tray but also the treatment of women andor children the critiue of the Empire and of the Legal profession and institutions the interplay between the two narrators he humour the richness in literary and historical references the musings on ethics etc All this makes for a very rich analysisFor me this book is certainly a reread And apart from all the aspects above what have struck me most because it has surprised me were the very rich plot and the way it was constructed That is why if I read Bleak House again I will do so while drawing a diagram that similarly to those charting engineering processes would plot the plotUsing an Excel sheet as my basis the graph I have in mind would be a two dimensional chart with the X or horizontal axis extending up to the 67 chapters of the book while on the vertical or Y axis I would mark out three different bands These bands would correspond to what I see as the main threads of the story I am thinking of1 The Chancery with all the Legal aspects In this story line belong the Court itself and the legal offices such as Kenge and Carboy and Mr Tulkinghorn’s The characters related to these legal aspects would belong to this band 2 Esther with her upbringing and Godmother And here belong major characters such as John Jarndyce and the two Wards Ada and Richard3 Chesney Wold with the Dedlocks Mrs Rouncewell and Rosa etcEach chapter would be plotted according to its number and to the story band to which it belongs and so it would be drawn as a suare To each chapter suare I would give one of two colors depending on who is narrating it When Esther is telling the story I would color the suare pink and when it is the Narrator it would be blue For the early chapters Band #2 would be mostly pink while the other two would be mostly blue; but as the novel advanced I think the pink would begin to invade other band stories and vice versaIn each chapter suare I would include little cells each one corresponding to one character as they first appear in the story As the chapters advanced and the characters reappeared I would draw connecting lines for those reappearing cells which would trace clearly how those character cells started to move from story band to story bandI wish I could draw the graph I have in mind in HTML format for this GR box But to give you an idea I think it would look like a combination of the following graphs and thisThen I would also mark when some episodes or stories within the stories were presented To these I would give the shape of a sort of elongated bubble or ellipse and they would be superposed on the chapter boxes since they would not uite belong nor not belong to the three story lines above In this ellipse category I place the episodes involving the Jellybys the Badgers the Turveydrops etcSome of the characters even if they first appear in the context of one of the bands eventually move from one story to another a great deal In the end they do not really belong to any one of them in particular These characters I conceive as major connectors in the plot I would then mark them with bold big dots linked by lines and would eventually look like a connecting grid I call these the Connexions and Jo Mr Guppy Mr Smallweed amongst others belong to this category Mr Guppy one of my favourite characters has a major “connexion” function although he is succeeded in his ability to precipitate the plot by the most determinant of the connecters Mr Bucket As The Detective his role is precisely that of connecting everything and thereby reach or propitiate the conclusion There is another group of characters who have a lighter connexion function because they do not really advance the plot but help in pulling it together and make it cohesive To this class I place Miss Flint and may be Charlotte Charley Neckett As we draw further to the right of the X axis the connecting lines linking the pivotal characters become increasingly busy and tangled as they extend over and boxes The connecting nodes would become something likeBy the end as we approach the final chapters all the story bands would have conflated into Esther and the graph would become something like this one in which the central heart stands for the All Loving EstherAnd Charles Dickens planned all this without a Computer


  9. Adam Dalva Adam Dalva says:

    Incredible blows away any other Dickens that I have read although it has been a couple of years Now there are issues with it it FEELS long in a way that some great long books don't which I think is due to the varying narrative stakes of the subplots; Esther Summerson though delightfully written is perhaps the most consistently GOOD character in the history of literature you root for her but it is the rooting of a manipulated reader; and the absurdity of the coincidences is just downright staggering But it's a huge achievement on 5 fronts1 On the line level it's gorgeous Dickens was on a roll for 800 pages I am often guilty of skimming through landscape descriptions but not here2 The plot should seem Byzantine but there are confluences of subplots and A plot that are massively satisfying the love stuff is mostly juicy and good there is a 70 page seuence toward the end that is so suspenseful that you'll read it in 2 seconds and it is varied enough in voice that you mostly sail along with it A lot of the criticism I've read focuses on the alternating 1st and 3rd person I really dug that and thought it was an accomplishment3 I think a great book needs to have at least one completely uniue scene that just sears itself into memory eg the flood seuence in the Makioka Sisters This book has it the spontaneous combustion section is as good and creepy as anything 4 The most important part for me; This is even beyond Gaddis the most generous book with tertiary characters that I have EVER read 40 50 characters deep and they are all uniue and well drawn and uirky and hilarious A few favorites are Detective Bucket who is a mixture of Gene Parmesan and Marlowe; the woman who loves her two ex husbands than her current husband; Mr Chadband a preacher who runs on train oil; and the foppish Mr Turveydrop Throw in the exceptionally likable main supporting characters and it's a helluva cast5 it's really really really funny Bleak House is I think not uite as good as East of Eden but it slots in with it nicely It's epic familially inclined socially critical has some great evil characters and as far as I have read is an accomplishment beyond the rest of the author's oeuvre Recommended if you can spare it the time and the occasional eyeroll


  10. Ines Ines says:

    Here I am after months I managed to finish this immense masterpiece I say it immediatelyit was very hard not for its length but for the complexity of the contents I didn’t care to read the story lightly just to understand the plot of this intricate narration but within the limits of the possible and the time little available I wanted to guess the thousand motivations that prompted Dickens to make talk and move his characters in this or other wayThe plot of the book revolves around a court case the Jarndyce against Jarndyce a very complicated situation of a thousand under stories and judicial fragmentations that will see contrasted at the end 3 characters ;John Jarndyce owner of a Bleak house Richard Carstone and Ada Clare two cousins under guardianship and direct beneficiaries of the Jarndyce inheritanceyou wil say all right here? No because Dickens great expert in creating meticulously and from the distant linked stories between them opens the novel with the presentation of Esther a little strange girl who will also lives at Bleak House with the two cousinsFrom here starts a cascade of events stories and a thousand narrative fragments where many characters will be presented Lady Honoria Dedlock neighbor of Bleak House whose story is kind of crazy SPOILER Eventually it will be discovered that she is the mother of Esther born from an extra marital relationship and given from birth to live under guardianship with a nurse and a housekeeper far from her origin's family Sir Laicester’s attorney this last one Sir is Honoria' s husband who will be deceived or deceived to discover stories both at the husband's reuest and Honoria's the mysteries related to the Will and various affidavit that pop up to disrupt the situations but especially the plotYou will be struck by mysteries murders but above all by very sad conditions that will affect our charactersThe disease of Esther struck by smallpox which leaves her disfigured but redeemed by the tenderness of little Charley a little girl who had saved from poverty and life on the street and put into service as a little lady in waiting and room helper But above all Esther will find peace in her heart when Honoria reveals that she is her motherYou find yourselves gazing at the madness that will strike Richard in order to obtain all the inheritance which then at the end of the book will occur but leaving the two cousins holding only air in their hands since all the money were eaten by the expenses for the causeWhat can I say about all this magnificence read? That is very complex that my time reduced to playing against the subtle ties between the characters which are many so I have sometimes found myself confused and deceived in believing and confusing between themThe ruthless attack that Dickens makes against the English judicial system is without reticence judges and lawyers described almost always as half men good only to swell pockets of money to proceed and postpone sentences just to reread or insert codicils or irrelevant documents in the judicial processWhat conspired most was Dickens' ability to tell us of this humanity bent by the pains of life each characters move for their purposes and interests but always having in their heart a present and fundamental morality for the events that will occur in the plot; it is not first that most of them have a soul now corrupted and bent by the vices of life but their goals are always carried forward by a clear motivation that will also move the events of this beautiful history The psychology of these people is well described clear and insightful of their being this for me is the genius of Dickens who in half a sentence tells you and defines you everything there is to know about a character and nothing else The end of the story is a joy of redemption and grace Richard and John will acknowledge their ignoble behaviors and ask each other for mercy Esther will have the chance to dissolve an engagement and marry Woodcourt her true beloved not the protected and chosen by JarndyceLady Dedlock after discovering her daughter will ask forgiveness for all the evil committed and truths kept from her husband Sir LeicesterWhat magnificence what beautyEccomi dopo mesi sono riuscita a finire uesto immenso capolavoro lo dico subito ho faticato molto non per la sua lunghezza ma per la complessità dei contenuti Non mi interessava leggere la storia in modo leggero giusto per capire la trama d uesta intricatissima storiama nel limite del possibile e del tempo poco a disposizione volevo intuire le mille motivazioni che hanno spinto Dickens a far parlare e a muovere i suoi personaggi in uesto o in altro modoLa trama del libro gira tutto intorno ad una causa giudiziaria la Jarndyce contro Jarndyce una situazione complicatissima di mille sotto storie e frammentazioni giudiziarie che vedrà contrapposti alla fin fine 3 personaggi ;John Jarndyce propietario di Casa desolata e Richard Carstone e Ada Clare due cugini sotto tutela e beneficiari in linea diretta dell' eredità Jarndycevoi direte bene tutto ui? E no perchè Dickens grandissimo sapiente nel creare minuziosamente e dalla lontana storie concatenate tra di loro apre il romanzo con la presentazione di Esther una giovinetta un pò strana che andrà a vivere anche lei a casa desolata insieme ai due cuginiDa ui parte una cascata di eventi storie e mille frammentazioni narrative dove pian piano verranno presentati tantissimi personaggi Honoria Dedlock vicina di tenuta di Bleak House la cui storia è pazzesca SPOILER alla fine si scoprirà che è la madre di Esther nata da una relazione extra coniugale e data sin dalla nascita a vivere sotto tutela con una balia e una governante lontana dalla sua famiglia di origineL'avvocato di Sir Laicester uest'ultimo è marito di Honoria che si lascerà trarre in inganno o sotto raggiro per scoprire storie sia sotto richiesta del marito che di Honoria ovvero i misteri legati al testamento e vari affidavit che spuntano fuori sparigliando le carte ma soprattutto la tramaVerrete colpiti dai misterie omicidi ma soprattutto da condizioni tristissime che colpiranno i nostri personaggiLa malattia di Esther colpita da vaiolo che la lascia sfigurata ma redenta dalla tenerezza della piccola Charley una bimba che aveva salvata dalla povertà e vita d strada e messa sotto servizio come piccola dama di compagnia e aiutante di camerama soprattutto Esther troverà pace nel cuore uando Honoria svelerà di essere sua mammaVi ritrovete a sgranare gli occhi nel leggere la pazzia che colpirà Richard per riuscire ad ottenere tutta la eredità cosa che poi alla fine del libro si verificherà ma lasciando i due fratelli con in mano unicamente aria visto che tutti i soldi sono stati mangiati dalla spese per la causaCosa posso dire di tutta uesta magnificenza letta? Che è complessissima che il mio tempo risicato a giocato a sfavore nel capire bene i sottili legami tra i vari personaggi che sono tantissimi uindi mi sono a volte ritrovata confusa e tratta in inganno nel credere e confonderli tra di loroL'attacco spietato che Dickens muove nei confronti del sistema giudiziario inglese è senza reticenza giudici ed avvocati descritti uasi sempre come mezzuomini buoni solo a gonfiarsi le tasche di soldi per far procedere e slittare le sentenze o giusto per rileggere o inserire codicilli documenti irrilevanti nell' iter giudiziarioCiò che piu' mi ha colplito è la capacità di Dickens nel raccontarci uesta umanità piegata dai dolori della vita ogni personaggio si muove per i suoi scopi ed interessi ma sempre avendo nel cuore una moralità presente e fondamentale per gli eventi che si verificheranno nella trama; non è primario che la maggior parte di loro abbia un 'anima ormai corrotta e piegata dai vizi della vita ma i loro scopi vengono sempre portati avanti da una motivazione chiara che muoveranno uindi anche le vicende e gli avvenimenti di uesta bellissima storia La psicologia di ueste persone è ben descritta chiara e lapalissiana del loro essere uesto per me è il genio di Dickens che in mezza frase ti dice e ti definisce tutto uel che c'è da sapere su un personaggio e nient'altroIl finale della storia è una gioia di redenzione e graziaRichard e John riconosceranno i loro comportamenti ignobili e si chiederanno pietà a vicenda Esther avrà possibilità di sciogliere un fidanzamento e convolare a nozze con Woodcourt il suo vero amato non il protetto e scelto da JarndyceLady Dedlock dopo aver scoperto la figlia chiederà perdono di tutto il male commesso e le verità tenute nascoste al marito Sir LeicesterChe magnificenza che bellezza


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