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To Paul Dombey, business is everything. He runs his domestic affairs as he runs his firm: coldly, calculatingly and commercially, neglecting his daughter Florence. In Dombey's mercantile terms, she is 'merely a base coin that couldn't be invested'. Through this portrayal of a dysfunctional family, where hearts have no market value, Dickens creates a broader picture of a society that places profit above compassion. He also explores the possibility of redemption through familial love, for it is Dombey's relationship with Florence, his emotional deprivation and eventual fulfilment that form the heart of the book. Despite its world of bustling commerce, roaring streets and railways, Dombey and Son is in many ways 'Dickens's most domestic novel'.
This volume uses the text of Dickens's first edition of 1848.
About the Author
Charles Dickens (1812-70) was a political reporter and journalist whose popularity was established by the phenomenally successful Pickwick Papers (1836-7). His novels captured and held the public imagination over a period of more than thirty years. David Trotter is Quain Professor of English Language and Literature and Head of Department at University College London. Charlotte Mitchell is Lecturer in English at University College London.
"There's no writing against such power as this--one has no chance."--William Makepeace Thackeray
ISBN: 9780140435467 ISBN-10: 0140435468 Series: Penguin Classics Audience:
For Ages: 18+ years old Format:
Number Of Pages: 1040 Published: November 2002 Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd Country of Publication: GB Dimensions (cm): 19.7 x 13.1
Weight (kg): 0.72
Edition Number: 1
Charles Dickens was born at Portsmouth on 7 February 1812, the second
of eight children. Dickens's childhood experiences were similar to
those depicted in David Copperfield. His father, who was a government
clerk, was imprisoned for debt and Dickens was briefly sent to work in
a blacking warehouse at the age of twelve.
He received little formal education, but taught himself shorthand and
became a reporter of parliamentary debates for the Morning Chronicle.
He began to publish sketches in various periodicals, which were
subsequently republished as Sketches by Boz. The Pickwick Papers were
published in 1836–7 and after a slow start became a publishing
phenomenon and Dickens's characters the centre of a popular cult.
Part of the secret of his success was the method of cheap serial
publication which Dickens used for all his novels. He began Oliver
Twist in 1837, followed by Nicholas Nickleby (1838) and The Old
Curiosity Shop (1840–41).After finishing Barnaby Rudge (1841) Dickens
set off for America; he went full of enthusiasm for the young republic
but, in spite of a triumphant reception, he returned disillusioned. His
experiences are recorded in American Notes (1842). Martin Chuzzlewit
(1843–4) did not repeat its predecessors' success but this was quickly
redressed by the huge popularity of the Christmas Books, of which the
first, A Christmas Carol, appeared in 1843.
During 1844–6 Dickens travelled abroad and he began Dombey and Son
while in Switzerland. This and David Copperfield (1849–50) were more
serious in theme and more carefully planned than his early novels. In
later works, such as Bleak House (1853) and Little Dorrit (1857),
Dickens's social criticism became more radical and his comedy more
In 1850 Dickens started the weekly periodical Household Words,
succeeded in 1859 by All the Year Round; in these he published Hard
Times (1854), A Tale of Two Cities (1859) and Great Expectations
(1860–61). Dickens's health was failing during the 1860s and the
physical strain of the public readings which he began in 1858 hastened
his decline, although Our Mutual Friend (1865) retained some of his
His last novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, was never completed and he
died on 9 June 1870. Public grief at his death was considerable and he
was buried in the Poets' Corner of Westminster Abbey.
A Note on our choice
The Works of Charles Dickens are available in many different editions, published by many different publishers.
The Booktopia Book Guru has recommended the Penguin Black Classic paperback editions here, as Australian readers have had a long established relationship with the Penguin Black Classic editions, with their informative and erudite introductions and notes.
There are, however, other options (see the series tab below). Both Oxford Classics and Vintage Classics publish Dickens, with notes and introductions. As do many US publishing houses.
Wordsworth Classics publish cheaper, no frills, editions of the classics, Dickens included, but the cheapest option, for those who have don’t want to read the classics but have to in order to pass a course, the US publisher, Dover, issues a thrift edition: these are cheap and cheerful, read and discard productions, which offer nothing but the text.